A Russian gay rights organisation vowed on Friday to press ahead with plans for an annual gay pride demonstration this weekend despite a ban by the Moscow mayor.
"We plan to gather on Sunday in front of the Moscow mayor's office. We're ready to accept another place if the authorities propose one," Nikolai Alexeyev, leader of the Gay Russia organisation, told AFP.
Mayor Yury Luzhkov -- who last year described gay parades as "Satan's work" -- has repeatedly refused permission for such events.
For two years in a row the unauthorised annual demonstration has descended into violence, with participants punched and kicked by far-right youths.
Luzhkov's stance has been criticised by the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, who is himself openly gay.
Ahead of this Sunday's march the Paris mayor sent a letter to Alexeyev voicing his "absolute and complete support" and expressing hope that recent statements by Russia's new president Dmitry Medvedev on the need for greater liberty would apply to homosexuals.
"The insults and attacks committed against your demonstrations are intolerable and I dare to hope that the recent statements of Dmitry Medvedev... concerning progress in 'liberties' are applied also in your case," Delanoe said in the letter, seen by AFP.