Police detain 20 LGBT activists at rally in central St. Petersburg

Police detained about 20 people at an LGBT rally on the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole) in central St. Petersburg on Saturday, an Interfax correspondent reported from the scene.

Police detained about 20 people at an LGBT rally on the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole) in central St. Petersburg on Saturday, an Interfax correspondent reported from the scene.

The rally in defense of the LGBT community's rights was planned for 2:00 p.m., but people started to gather long before this time.

About 20 Cossacks and Orthodox activists were among the first to appear at the scene to oppose the rally.

Young men wearing clothes with symbols of nationalistic organizations appeared there some time later.

A lot of police were deployed near the Field of Mars as well.

The rally organizers said on Friday that the city authorities had been informed about the event and were supposed to ensure its participants' security.

When about a dozen LGBT activists appeared near the Field of Mars, their opponents met them with religious songs and blocked the passage toward the venue of the planned rally.

Activists made several attempts to proceed toward the center of the Field of Mars but were opposed by Cossacks and nationalists, which grew into brawls. After that, police started detaining the most active participants in the clashes.

Interfax has yet to obtain official information on the number of those detained.

The previous such action on the Field of Mars took place on September 6. Witnesses said about 20 LGBT supporters then gathered to express their protest against the violation of sexual minorities' rights.

The activists unfolded rainbow flags and held banners in Russian and English, some of them saying, 'Stop Homophobia in Russia,' 'Thanks for Solidarity', 'Injustice Somewhere is a Threat of Injustice Everywhere' and others.

About 50 Orthodox activists led by a priest were reading prayers and threw coins at the LGBT community defenders, which, in their words, symbolized their venality.

At the end of the rally, police escorted LGBT defenders to a bus.

The Interior Ministry department for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region told Interfax then that about 70 people were taking part in the rally. "The event passed without violations and detentions, and about 70 people took part in it," it said.

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