Police arrested a group of around 10 LGBT activists in Moscow's Red Square on Friday evening as they sang the Russian national anthem as the Olympic opening ceremonies began while holding a rainbow flag. The detentions follow the arrest of four LGBT activists earlier in the day in St. Petersburg for taking photographs while holding a banner opposing discrimination during the Olympics.
This video captured the police breaking up the group in Red Square before taking them to the Kitai-Gorod police station:
The website OVDinfo.org, which tracks detentions in Russia, reported that the Russians in detention include Elena Kostyuchenko, Anna Anenkova Gleb Warrior, Lynne Reid, Olga Mazurova, Knicks Nemeni Tarja Polyakova, and Daria Starshinina.
The group included two Swedish activists, who were released about an hour after they were detained. One of the Swedes, Ulrika Westerlund of the LGBT organization RFSL, emailed to BuzzFeed a transcript of a text message exchange she had with Russian activists still in detention that reported at least two of the group had been beaten and threatened with sexual abuse.
Update - Feb. 7, 4:45 P.M., EST
The eight Russians were released at around 12:30 Moscow time, protest organizers Elena Kostyuchenko, told BuzzFeed by phone after her release. None were seriously injured, though she reported they police officers almost broke two of the protestors' arms by closing the door of the cage, some were kicked by police officers while handcuffed to the cage, and one protestor was momentarily choked by a police officer placing his arm across his throat. She was not formally charged, she said, because she insisted on complaining about the officers' conduct before signing a charge sheet.
Like the activists arrested in St. Petersburg earlier on Friday, Kostyuchenko believes police knew about the protest in advance by tapping her phone, and were waiting for them. She said that she changed the location 30 minutes before the protest, and only communicated the new location through phone calls and text messages, which she believes were intercepted.
"I think they hear my phone and read my text messages," she said. "I can't explain it any way."
CORRECTION: The original headline on this story suggested the video contained footage of activists being beaten. The video does not clearly show police violence.
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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