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Russia Cracks Down on Gay Activism

Police detain Russia's leading gay rights campaigner Yuri Gavrikov during an unsanctioned gay rally near the City Hall in Moscow, May 25, 2013.
Russian police arrested at least 30 gay rights activists and their opponents in the capital, Moscow, Saturday, enforcing the city's ban on gay rights demonstrations.

The arrests coincided with the first-ever gay rights rally in neighboring Ukraine, which was allowed by authorities and protected by police.

The demonstrators in Russia gathered in front of the nation's lower house of parliament and near the mayor's office.

The lower house voted in January to give preliminary approval to a measure making homosexual "propaganda" targeting minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000.

Gay rights activists march in Kyiv, May 25, 2013.
Gay rights activists march in Kyiv, May 25, 2013.
Meanwhile, in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, about 100 gay rights activists held the country's first gay rally, accompanied by a heavy security presence.

As in other former Soviet republics, opposition to homosexuality is widespread in mainly Orthodox Ukraine. Saturday's march saw a number of religious opponents seek to disrupt the event. At least one anti-gay activist managed to break through a police cordon before being detained. About a dozen anti-gay activists were detained overall.

Despite its detractors, organizers hailed Saturday's march in Ukraine as historic.

The rally went ahead despite strong public resistance.

Last year, gay activists in Ukraine canceled a planned rally in Kyiv because of threats of violence. Following the cancellation, one activist was brutally beaten.