A first for Moscow: On Friday, a small group of gay-rights activists held a protest without interruption or hindrance from government authorities. Ten activists took part in the protest, which they considered a victory. The dismissal of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who held office for 18 years, prompted a momentous change in policy. For years, government authorities cracked down on gay-rights organizing, denying protesters the forum to rally and sometimes even beating those who did. Nikolai Alexeyev, head of the Moscow Gay Pride organization, said, "As soon as Luzhkov left, the policy changed. I am sure the new mayor will finally allow us to rally." President Dmitry Medvedev fired Luzhkov after 18 years of service.