Mob Dismantles Roof Of Beleaguered Moscow Gay Club
Moscow’s largest gay club, which was the scene of anti-gay violence multiple times over the last few months, once again came under attack on Saturday when a mob of more than 100 people dismantled the roof of the building, the Moscow Times reports.
The attackers were able to destroy the Central Station’s roof by dismantling it while in the club’s attic. In the process, they also stole some of the club’s utility equipment.
Central Station’s owner, Andrei Lishchinsky, wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the treatment of LGBT people in the country, condemning the highly controversial "homosexual propaganda" law. He said that the law creates an atmosphere of intolerance in society and does not protect children, as many of the measure’s backers believe.
He also outlined what he believed happened in the club’s most recent attack.
"The building was seized by a professional raiding company that served the interests of unknown foreign legal entities that ordered multiple illegal actions against LGBT visitors of the club," Lishchinsky wrote, which he also posted on Facebook, according to the Moscow Times. "These actions were obviously motivated by hatred toward representatives of the LGBT community and had a clear extremist tone."
Lishchinsky said there have been more than 20 attacks on the club in the last few months and that the club has filed more than 30 complaints to the police, which have not been answered. He also urged Putin to identify police who are avoiding the club owners’ complaints.
One of the first incidents occurred on Oct. 21, when a banner reading "GAY CLUB ENTRANCE" was placed on the club’s front door. Later, a megaphone was found in the club, playing Boris Moiseyev’s song "Blue Moon."
Another attack occurred around 5 a.m. on Nov. 16 when two men attempted to enter the club. When guards refused to allow them to enter, the duo pulled out guns and opened fire. Though nobody was hurt, two bullets damaged Central Station’s front door. On Nov. 23 Central Station was attacked yet again, this time the perpetrators sprayed the club, which contained about 500 people, with harmful gas. Several patrons sought out medical attention while many refused to go to the hospital.
When the gas was sprayed, the club’s staff immediately turned on a smoke removal machine, which eliminated the gas in just a few minutes.
Lishchinsky says that police have yet to identify the organizers behind the attacks and authorities refuse to open a criminal case, the Moscow Times reports. He added that the police are protecting those who orchestrated the attacks.
Though Lishchinsky did not name anyone in the attack, there have been reports that indicate there was a conflict between the club owners and the owners of the building where the club is located.
Despite the complaints the club’s owners’ complaints about the violence, police have targeted Central Station for suspected illegal activity. In December, police and the Federal Drug Control Service investigated the club for drug trafficking but police failed to find drugs during their search.
Leading LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev said that Lishchinsky’s letter to Putin will probably go unanswered because all letters go through the presidential administration first. The administration doesn’t forward the letters to Putin but sends them to different agencies. Alexeyev said he’s sent his own letters to Putin regarding LGBT rights in Russia but has never received a response. He added that the club owner’s letter will most likely be sent to the police and the Prosecutor’s General office -- the very agencies he is complaining about in his letter.
Alexeyev said he believes the attacks weren’t motivated by gay rights, however, but were the result of a "pure economic issue."
"The building got a new owner recently who tried to break the lease contract with the owners of Central Station, but failed to do so even through a court, which is why the owner started to take measures that would not allow the club to function properly," he said.