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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bigots Not Discriminating About Their Targets

APBeck standing with his face bleeding after being attacked by nationalists.
One of the victims of the violence that broke out at Saturday's aborted gay rights march had the misfortune of simply being the wrong color.

While walking down Tverskaya Ulitsa with a female companion, the dark-skinned man, who did not give his name, was attacked by ultranationalists looking for prey.

As he was overtaken by some of the mob, the man was knocked to the ground and punched and kicked. The young woman, a Russian, tried to shield him with her body.

An onlooker tried to tear away one of the attackers, and five or six of the assailants fled just before police officers arrived, ushering the man and woman, both in their twenties, into a squad car. None of the thugs who had attacked the man were detained.

What became clear at the march Saturday was that the ultranationalists, Orthodox Church protesters and other opponents of gay rights were not only fighting gay rights -- they were protesting anything they deemed un-Russian. Whether it was South Asians or Westerners or anyone who collided with their nostalgia for a closed, imperial Russia, everyone on "the outside" was a potential target.

One young man who only gave his first name, Alexei, happily admitted that he had taken part in the beating of a German lawmaker, Volker Beck.

"I punched him in the face myself because I'm a normal Russian guy," Alexei said, grinning.

Using a widespread Russian expression, Alexei said he and others came to protest the march to "combine the pleasant things with the useful things" -- hanging out with his friends while physically beating people he considers perverts.

Kirill Frolov, head of the Moscow chapter of the Orthodox Citizens' Union, passed out flyers to passersby saying that European officials involved in the march were seeking to instigate an Orange Revolution-style overthrow of the government in Russia. The flyers also said that the bird flu sweeping the globe was God's punishment for homosexuality.

Frolov added that the union had worked closely with law enforcement agencies.

Alexei Gozhgo, 19, marched with the Cossacks, who, he said, came from the Tula region. He said he opposed gays and lesbians because they would not do anything to boost Russia's shrinking population.

Not far away, on Tverskaya Ulitsa, two women holding hands voiced support for the display of gay solidarity.

"This is a necessary and effective action," one of the women, Yekaterina Shavyrina, said. "We're also a part of society."