Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Monday denounced gay rights parades as "satanic" and vowed that he would never allow such events to be held in the city.
Speaking during a Russian Orthodox Church conference at the Kremlin, Luzhkov said the city would reject any application to hold a gay pride parade and crack down on anyone who chose to march in defiance of the ban, just as it did in 2006.
"Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as a satanic event," Luzhkov said in televised comments. "We did not let the parade take place then, and we will not allow it in the future."
At last year's parade in May, marchers were overwhelmed by militant Orthodox Christians and ultranationalists throwing smoke bombs. The parade had been banned by Luzhkov, and more than 100 gay rights activists and their opponents were arrested by police.
Nikolai Alexeyev, the chief organizer of last year's march, said it was "shocking" that such a high-ranking government official could publicly express such sentiments.
"To compare us to a satanic cult is not worthy of the top official of Europe's largest city," Alexeyev said. "It is a personal insult."
Alexeyev said the parade organizers would file a libel suit against Luzhkov in the coming weeks.
Alexeyev also said that on Monday the organizers of last year's parade had filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, seeking 20,000 euros ($26,000) in damages for the violation of their constitutional right of free assembly.
Gay activists will march again this year regardless of whether Luzhkov bans the parade, Alexeyev said.
Ahead of last year's march, the Council of Europe issued a statement that offered support to gay rights activists in Moscow in their struggle against homophobia.
The statement also called on city authorities to ensure the safety of the marchers.
Father Vsevolod Chaplin, a top spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, said Monday that a majority of Russians were against gay rights parades.
Chaplin called Luzhkov a "responsible politician" for upholding the will of the people in his remarks at the Kremlin on Monday.
"Satanic" was not an exaggeration by Luzhkov, Chaplin said.
"The forces of evil are always emboldened by the propaganda of sin," Chaplin said.
A number of gay rights activists opposed last year's parade and labeled Alexeyev a self-promoter who sought to use the event to build his own reputation at home and abroad.
Gay activist Ed Mishin, director of the gay rights organization Together, said the gay parade dispute in Moscow was merely a personal conflict between Alexeyev and Luzhkov.
"This is not a conflict between city authorities and the gay community at large," Mishin said.
Luzhkov on Monday also accused countries in the West of trying to force their liberal values on Russia, thereby corrupting its children and its traditions.
Luzhkov said it was unfortunate that "religious institutions at various levels" in European countries had teamed up with governments to "bless same-sex marriages" and provide "manuals of a sexual nature" for use in the education of children "starting in the first grade."
"Supporters of such education appear in Russia propped up by generous grants from thoughtful Western 'educators,'" Luzhkov said, Interfax reported.
In April 2005, Luzhkov suggested that the construction of a golf course in the bucolic Strogino area in northwestern Moscow would help prevent homosexuals and barbecuers from frequenting the area and damaging the environment.