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Gay activists attacked with pepper spray during St Petersburg Pride

2017-08-16
St. Petersburg Pride was marred by violence on Saturday (12 August) after nationalist extremists attacked a group of gay rights activists calling for LGBT+ equality. 15 people were left injured when a group of men armed with pepper spray attacked activists on the Second Garden Bridge, leaving three victims requiring treatment in hospital for chemical burns, Russian outlet Fontanka reports. Around 100 activists had gathered St. Petersburg's Field of Mars - a specially-designated "free speech zone" - to mark the city's eighth Gay Pride on Saturday afternoon, in what organisers said was the event's largest turnout since 2010. The city was the birthplace of Russia's anti-gay 'propaganda' legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors, which was signed into law by Vladimir Putin in 2013. While Saturday's event passed mostly peacefully, it descended into violence when nationalists belonging to a known right-wing extremist group attacked activists as they dispersed following the protest's end. Footage captured at the scene shows a group of young men and women being sprayed in the face with pepper spray as a group of men run by. Russian authorities say they have launched an investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, one of the activists who attended Saturday's protest is reportedly facing up to 10 days in detention after being arrested by Russian police. Anna Grabetskaya was holding a sign declaring 'I love my wife' before being detained by officers immediately after the event ended. A post on the Facebook page of the Russian LGBT network, where Ms Grabetskayay previosuly worked as a volunteer, read: "After she finished her picket and made a few steps, she was immediately detained by the police officers.
"Right now Anna Grabetskaya is detained at the Police Station. The police officers took away all her personal belonging, including her mobile phone. "There is no official information regarding the Court hearing and Grabetskaya’s future."
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