A British LGBT activist was detained near the Red Square in Moscow for protesting against Russia's abuse of homosexual people Thursday, as the country kicks off the World Cup.
Peter Tatchell stood outside the Kremlin holding a banner critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying "Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people."
Several minutes later, Tatchell was approached by several policemen who told him his protest was not authorized. He was led away and taken to a police car.
Dozens of gay men have spoken about being tortured in secret prison facilities overseen by the allies of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov denied the accusations and has claimed there are no gays in Chechnya.
The World Cup has brought renewed attention to anti-gay and racist attitudes in Russia. The anti-discrimination Fare Network and Moscow-based Sova Center said this month that there were 19 incidents of abusive chants at soccer matches this season, in a rise from recent years, NBC News reported.
Tatchell's arrest comes only a day after Russian politican Tamara Pletnyova told Russian civilians to avoid having sex with non-white foreigners during the World Cup.
Pletnyova, the head of a parliamentary committee on family matters, suggested that sex with foreigners could leave Russian women alone with mixed-race babies.
Pletnyova's comments were in response to a question about the "Children of the Olympics," a term referring to mixed-race children born after the 1980 Moscow Games, purportedly from Russian women having sex with men visiting and competing from Asia, Africa and Latin America, Reuters reported.
“It’s one thing if they’re of the same race but quite another if they’re of a different race," Pletnyova was quoted as saying.