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British gay rights activist arrested in Russia before World Cup

AFP  |  Moscow 

British gay rights activist was arrested today in for holding a one-man protest against the country's record on rights, hours before the kick-off of

The veteran was led away by police shortly after unfolding a poster that said Vladimir "Putin fails to act against torture of gay people" near in central

"There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like that of Vladimir Putin," he said before being approached by three officers.

told one of the officers he was demonstrating for the Russian people and said a number of celebrated Russians, such as the Pyotr Tchaikovsky, were gay.

After a brief discussion about the legality of the protest, the 66-year-old was escorted to a next to the walls of the Kremlin.

He was held at the central station and released two hours later, he told AFP.

Officers ordered to appear in court on June 26, the activist said, but added he planned to leave the country before the hearing.

The said its staff was offering the assistance.

The said it was following the situation but believed it was an issue for law enforcement, in comments reported by agencies.

In 2007, Tatchell was beaten by rightwing demonstrators as he attended Moscow's second-ever gay pride parade, in an attack he says has left him with brain damage.

Last year gay men in Chechnya, a majority Muslim republic in ruled by strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, said they had been tortured by agencies.

A controversial "gay propaganda" law brought in by in 2013 officially forbids the promotion of "non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors but effectively bans gay rights

Tatchell said the law had been used to criminalise peaceful protests, sack teachers and suppress organisations that offer support to the community, in a written statement released to the media.

Russian campaigners have previously been charged for sharing information about rights on and detained for carrying rainbow flags at demonstrations.

Russian authorities have insisted lesbian and gay fans should feel safe travelling to the country for the World Cup, but some LGBT supporters told AFP they had received violent threats ahead of the tournament.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 14 2018. 22:25 IST