Britons warned over protests in World Cup cities after Peter Tatchell arrested
The gay rights activist had staged a one-man protest near the Kremlin.
Britons in Russia have been warned to avoid demonstrations in World Cup host cities in the wake of the arrest of gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice following the detention of LGBT campaigner Mr Tatchell after he staged a one-man protest near the Kremlin on Thursday.
The Russian government has put in place regulations meaning all protests of any size during the World Cup must be cleared with authorities in advance.
Steel workers in Volgograd, which will host England’s first game against Tunisia on Monday, are reportedly planning to demonstrate over temporary lay-offs.
The Foreign Office advice said: “Unauthorised demonstrations can lead to a robust response from the Russian authorities, occasionally leading to violence.
“Special regulations are in place in host cities during the Fifa World Cup. All protests (of any size) must have prior authorisation from the local authorities.
“Check the local media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any demonstrations.”
Mr Tatchell was arrested near the statue of Marshal Zhukov, in a public square which was busy with football fans, while holding a poster attacking Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It read: “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”
He was held and questioned at a nearby police station for more than an hour before being released and given a court date later this month, although he said he had been told he could leave the country.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said: “The response to Peter Tatchell’s protest is straight out of the Russian authorities’ playbook – protest in a high-profile location like Red Square, hold a placard criticising Putin or speak in support of LGBTI rights in public, and face immediate arrest by the police.
“In present-day Russia, there’s no right to peacefully protest, no right to publicly stand up for LGBTI people, and certainly no chance of staging a street protest about last year’s sinister gay crackdown in Chechnya.”