British LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell has been detained by Russian police in Moscow ahead of the opening ceremony of the World Cup.
Mr Tatchell was detained for what Russian police described as an illegal protest. Moscow Police have said that he will be released after being charged with breaking the law on public meetings.
A statement from the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which Mr Tatchell founded in order to campaign for human rights, says that he was protesting legally.
Upon his release, Mr Tatchell’s official Twitter account said his team had spoken to the Consultate General who says that the campaigner had been bailed and treated well.
BREAKING – Peter Tatchell has been released. I’ve spoken to the Consulate Gen. who says he has been bailed & treated well. Thank you for the all the good wishes. Let’s remember the awful plight of LGBTs in Russian & Chechnya. More from me soon. Simon at the @ptfoundation.
— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) June 14, 2018
He had attempted to hold a solitary demonstration near the Red Square to draw attention to human rights abuses against gay men in Chechnya.
Mr Tatchell stated that solitary protests did not require police authorisation and were protected by the Russian constitution.
A Reuters reporter saw a Russian policeman inform Mr Tatchell that it was illegal to hold such protests during the tournament.
Mr Tatchell was holding a sign which said: “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”
The policeman told Mr Tatchell that he had to stop or he would be detained and after what was described as a “long conversation”, Mr Tatchell was led away to a waiting police car.
According to the campaigner’s official Twitter account, he has been taken to Tverskaya Police Station.
Speaking before the protest, Mr Tatchell suggested he anticipated being arrested having been attacked several times while protesting homophobia in Russia.
“I was exercising my lawful right to protest, under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and the right to protest in Articles 29 and 31.
“A one-person protest, which is what I did, requires no permission from the authorities and the police.
“Getting arrested is standard for Russians who protest for LGBT+ rights or against corruption, economic injustice and Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its bombing of civilians in Syria,” Mr Tatchell added.
He said: “Unlike brave Russian protesters, I have the ‘protection’ of a British passport, which means I have been treated more leniently than they are.
“My fate was mild compared to what often happens to Russians who dare to challenge the Putin regime. I am awed by their courage.”
Last year, the Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported that more than 100 gay men have been locked up and tortured in a homophobic campaign in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
At the time, Sky News interviewed a man who told us how he was forced to flee Chechnya after police turned up at his home looking for him.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denies claims that gay men are killed in his country, claiming that no gay men even exist there.