A nationalist rally for a healthy lifestyle in the Kaliningrad Region was cut short by police who mistook it for a gay pride parade, local media reported on Monday.
Some two dozen activists, many of them underage, took to the streets of Sovetsk, a town of 41,000 in Russia’s Baltic exclave, on Saturday to promote jogging, 40161.ru reported.
The joggers were carrying a black, yellow and white banner of imperial Russia, favored by nationalists, which was adorned with the slogan, “Russians choose sport.”
But police dispatched a patrol to detain them for questioning, the report said.
Officers were acting on an anonymous telephone tip, which reported the event to be an unsanctioned rally for gay rights. They also mistook the flag for a banner of some religious sect, said the organizer, Anton Uskov.
The activists were released after Uskov assured the officers in writing that the rally was a sports event, not a political rally. Uskov said he plans a follow-up, but this time would leave the “imperial” banner at home and obtain the City Hall’s permission for the event.
Nationalists in Russia are increasingly adopting healthy lifestyles as part of their platform, promoting abstinence and sports as “patriotic.” But police remain unimpressed, dispersing most such events as unsanctioned. A jogging rally in Moscow’s Izmailovsky Park last February ended with most participants fined for jaywalking.