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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police, Protesters Wait for Gay March

A gay rights march planned for Sunday looks likely to get messy.

Some 150 people, including five European legislators, a State Duma deputy and faux-lesbian pop duo t.A.T.u are expected to take part in the march in central Moscow, organizers said Thursday.

But police said they would break up the march, which they called illegal. Ultranationalist activists promised to show their ire by throwing stones, eggs and tomatoes.

Nikolai Alexeyev, a leading gay rights campaigner, said the event would go ahead no matter what. "Of course, we fear [violence], but we will still go out," he said.

Organizers said they would release the time and place of the march at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. "Otherwise the march might not take place," co-organizer Alexei Davydov said.

Participants from Europe will include lawmakers Volker Beck of Germany, Vladimir Luxuria of Italy, and three members of the European Parliament, including Marco Cappato of Italy, Alexeyev said.

Duma Deputy Alexei Mitrofanov of the Liberal Democratic Party confirmed his intent to participate through a spokesman Thursday.

Alexeyev acknowledged that city authorities had not authorized the march, but he said they had not banned it either.

City Hall's point man on security, Nikolai Kulikov, has contradicted Alexeyev, saying he personally handed the activist a rejection notice.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov faced fierce criticism from human rights activists both at home and abroad last May when he forbade gay rights activists from staging a march. An attempt to march despite the ban was overwhelmed by ultranationalists and militant Orthodox believers throwing smoke bombs. Several of the participants were injured and detained.

Alexander Belov, head of the ultranationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration, said Thursday that many of his activists would take to the streets Sunday, along with members of Orthodox and monarchical organizations. He said they would be armed with stones, rotten eggs and tomatoes.

"Unfortunately, I will not be able to come and throw a stone myself because I will be on a trip to another city," Belov said. "Perhaps some other time."

Police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said officers were preparing to block the march. "Moscow authorities have banned the march, and we must prevent it," he said.

He refused to elaborate, other than to say "all police departments responsible for security in the city" would take part Sunday.