Nikolai Alekseev is punched as he’s taken away by police.

Around 30 gay rights activists were arrested in Moscow on Saturday as they attempted to hold a gay Pride rally that had been banned by the authorities.

The event was also meant to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia.

The activists were quickly stopped and taken away by police after they unfurled a rainbow flag and held up posters calling for equality outside the Russian lower house of parliament.

Some activists, including well known gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alekseev, were also attacked by Orthodox Christian and right-wing thugs.

Alekseev was punched in the face as he was hauled away by the police. 

Another smaller Pride protest outside Moscow City Hall was also quickly quashed by the authorities. The activists were all released by Sunday morning.

Writing on Facebook after his release, Alekseev said: “My dear friends, I am released from police, I am feeling OK! Thank you all for your great support!!! It is really more important for me than all the injuries, arrests and insults. I love you! THANK YOU! I am now safe and in the safe location!!!!!!!!! We did it! Thanks to all you came out without fear despite the bans! 8th Moscow Pride took place! We did it! As promised! As ever!”

Moscow authorities have refused to allow Pride events to take place in the city for the past eight years, ignoring condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, the capital city of Kiev in neighbouring Ukraine held its first gay Pride parade on Saturday. The event had also been banned but the organisers went ahead anyway.

The Mayor of Munich, Josef Monatzeder, joined the around 80 participants in the event, which took place without serious incident, in spite of numerous anti-gay protesters.

An attempt to hold a Pride parade in Kiev last year was cancelled just thirty minutes before the start after LGBT activists were beaten and tear gassed by anti-gay hooligans.

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