Showing posts with label Gay Russian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Russian. Show all posts

July 24, 2019

Russian LGBT Activist Knived To Death

A prominent Russian LGBT activist who had been featured on a blocked website that encourages people to “hunt down” sexual minorities has been killed in St. Petersburg.
The website, inspired by the “Saw” horror film franchise and which encourages visitors to track down and assault people believed to be LGBT, was blocked in Russia last week. 
Yelena GrigoryevaDinar Idrisov / Facebook
Yelena Grigoriyeva was found with multiple stab wounds and signs of strangulation near her home over the weekend, fellow activists said on social media.
The activist had regularly received death threats and reported them to the police, who did nothing to protect her before she was murdered, fellow activist Dinar Idrisov wrote on Facebook on Monday.
“A reminder: Yelena was listed on the homophobic ‘Saw’ website which has long threatened LGBT activists across the country,” photojournalist Georgy Markov wrote.
Grigoriyeva had been stabbed at least eight times, the St. Petersburg news website reported.
A suspect in her killing was reported to have been detained. 
Grigoriyeva had maintained an active stance on a range of issues, according to the Mediazona news website. It reported that over the past year she had been detained at rallies against torture and the Chechen-Ingush land swap, as well as at LGBT protests.
Rights activists say violent homophobic attacks have become more frequent since Russia banned “homosexual propaganda” toward minors in 2013. Recent polling suggested that Russian attitudes toward equal rights for LGBT people were at a 14-year high.

             Image result for Yelena Grigoryeva

LGBT rights campaigner Yelena Grigoryeva Yelena Grigoryeva, an LGBT rights campaigner in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg, has been killed, the local online newspaper Fontanka reported citing police.

She was found dead with multiple stab wounds on July 20 near her house and apparently was strangled, according to Fontanka as well as a Facebook post by opposition campaigner Dinar Idrisov and the Russian LGBT Network.

Idrisov said Grigoryeva had received multiple threats both online and offline.

Aside from LGBT causes, Grigoryeva opposed Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and took part in rallies in support of political prisoners.

"Recently she has frequently been a victim of violence and received murder threats," Idrisov said. Grigoryeva "filed complaints to the police regarding the violence and the threats, but there was no reaction."

It is not clear whether the police are investigating her death as a hate crime.

Based on reporting by the AFP, Fontanka, and Meduza.

Protests in Moscow Against "Putin, Lier"

More than 10,000 people have gathered in Moscow to protest against the controversial ban of some opposition candidates from Moscow city-council elections set for September. The July 20 rally was addressed by leading figures of the Russian nonparliamentary opposition, including anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny and Lyubov Sobol, who is one of the excluded candidates.

{Radio Free Europe}

October 29, 2018

Young Gay Russian Gains A Victory Against The Russian Anti Gay Law in Court

 This is Maxim, a gay Russian full of courage

MOSCOW (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
 In an unexpected victory for gay rights, the first minor to be charged in Russia for promoting homosexuality won a court appeal on Friday in defense of his right to post photos on social media of men embracing. 
Maxim Neverov was fined 50,000 rubles ($760) in August after a commission on juvenile affairs found him guilty of “promoting non-traditional sexual relationship among minors”. 
He had posted online photos of shirtless men openly hugging in a nation where gays face legal challenges and risk widespread discrimination. 
After an appeal in the city court of Biysk and several hearings, a judge found there was not enough evidence to establish Neverov’s guilt and overturned the fine. 
“It was totally unexpected,” Neverov, 16, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview immediately after the court hearing. 
He said he had been prepared to lose the decision. 
“I had a draft of a social media post ready saying ‘the court upheld the decision and that we’re ready to continue fighting for justice’ when the judge announced the ruling,” he said. 
The prosecutor’s office in Biysk, Neverov’s hometown in Siberia, could not be reached for comment. It was not clear if an appeal, which must be lodged within 10 days, would follow.  
Neverov was the first minor - age 18 or under in Russia - to be fined under the law, which makes illegal any event or acts regarded by authorities as an attempt to promote homosexuality to minors. 
It has been used to stop gay pride marches and to detain gay rights activists. 
Neverov’s lawyer Artyom Lapov, a member of the gay rights group Russian LGBT Network, said the ruling is “a signal to the LGBT community that they can, and should, fight for their rights.” 
In Russia, “people often think that there’s nothing they can achieve, but this case shows that they, in fact, can and should,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
Russian courts rarely acquit people accused of “gay propaganda”, Network spokeswoman Svetlana Zakharova told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
“There are precedents, but they are really rare,” she said. “This case shows that the justice system is aware that the implementation of the [gay propaganda] law often goes too far.” 
Russia was ranked Europe’s second least LGBT-friendly nation in 2016 by ILGA-Europe, a network of European LGBT groups. Homosexuality was a criminal offense in Russia until 1993 and classed as a mental illness until 1999. 
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian gay propaganda law breached European treaty rules, violated the right to freedom of expression and discriminated against LGBT people - a ruling Moscow called unjustly. 
Reporting by Daria Litvinova; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths and Ellen Wulfhorst Please credit the Thomson Reuters 

August 13, 2018

The First Minor Prosecuted by Russia Under The Gay Propaganda Law

 Maxim Neverov, 16

 A schoolboy has become the first minor to be prosecuted under Russia’s strict “gay propaganda” laws.
Maxim Neverov, a 16-year-old from the city of Biysk, was reportedly fined £50,000 rubles (£580) by a court, according to campaign group the Russian LGBT Network.
The organization said a police report filed in July claimed the teenager had posted several images of “partly nude” men on the social network VKontakte.
It added the images had been determined to have “the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations”, according to an “expert opinion”.
The Russian LGBT Network, which also provided a lawyer to represent Maxim, said authorities may have pursued charges following the teenager’s involvement in an event called “Gays or Putin”.
He and other organisers reportedly submitted 12 applications to hold events around Biysk, all of which were rejected by the city.
“Maxim Neverov points to the absurdity of the fact that the proceedings for propaganda among minors were initiated against a minor, but he expected such a decision,” the network said in a statement.
“Maxim Neverov is 16 years old; he is a schoolchild.”
The teenager’s lawyer, Artem Lapov, said the decision by the court violated his client’s right to freedom of expression.
He said he intended to appeal the decision, claiming Maxim’s friends and supporters were barred from attending the hearing, while the recording of proceedings were also forbidden.
Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” rules were agreed by the State Duma in 2013 and later signed into law by president Vladimir Putin.
The stated aim of the laws is to “protect” minors from being exposed to content that presents homosexuality as being a norm in society.
Moscow claims the rules uphold “traditional family values” by “preventing children from forming non-traditional sexual predispositions”.
The laws have received widespread criticism from campaign groups and human rights organisations.
Kyle Knight, of Human Rights Watch, said the law was a "flimsy excuse to discriminate against LGBT people".
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the legislation was discriminatory and restricted the free speech of Russian citizens.

November 19, 2017

Russia's Non Dying Gay Demons

Masha Gessen
Masha Gessen; drawing by Siegfried Woldhek

Early in Vladimir Putin’s first presidency, I spoke to a Moscow banker, with reason to care on this point, who said he detected no trace of anti-Semitism in Putin personally, but that Putin would encourage popular anti-Semitism in a second if he thought that doing so would serve his interests. So far, Putin has not felt the need to demonize Russia’s Jews. He has instead identified the enemy within as Russia’s homosexuals, whose persecution is one of the main themes of The Future Is History, Masha Gessen’s remarkable group portrait of seven Soviet-born Russians whose changing lives embody the changing fortunes and character of their country as it passed from the end of Communist dictatorship under Mikhail Gorbachev to improvised liberalism under Boris Yeltsin and then back to what Gessen sees as renewed totalitarianism under Putin.
Two of Gessen’s central characters, Masha* and Lyosha, were born into the educated middle class of the 1980s. Two more characters of the same generation have lives touched by great privilege: Seryozha is the grandson of Alexander Yakovlev, who was Gorbachev’s close adviser and a longtime member of the Central Committee; Zhanna is the daughter of Boris Nemtsov, a minister under Yeltsin and a dissident murdered under Putin. All four are encountered first in childhood and referred to throughout by their childhood names. Three characters appear first as adults, with private and public lives. Alexander Dugin is a philosopher who develops an ideology of Russian exceptionalism that wins him fame and favor under Putin. Lev Gudkov is a sociologist who seeks to model the emerging new Russia. Marina Arutyunyan is a psychologist who reestablishes the practice of psychoanalysis in Russia after its disappearance under communism.
Gessen’s deft blending of these stories gives us a fresh view of recent Russian history from within, as it was experienced at the time by its people. It is a welcome perspective. In turbulent periods, anything seems possible. Only with hindsight does causality creep in, and with it the illusion of inevitability. The infinite possibilities of the moment are lost. Through the eyes of her characters, Gessen manages to restore those possibilities, to convey how it felt to imagine that life in the new Russia could go in any direction. 
The tension between experience and hindsight is there within Gessen’s writing. She alternately zooms in on the lives of her characters and zooms out to give more general accounts of the major events of the time—the putsch against Gorbachev in 1991, Yeltsin’s shelling of the Russian White House in 1993, the reelection of Yeltsin as president in 1996, the handover of power to Putin in 2000, and so on. How familiar these events appear when Gessen arranges them in their historical order, and how unfamiliar they appear when we see them as fragments of experience. On one side is the historian explaining the rise of Putin as a logical reaction to the failings of Yeltsin. On the other is Masha’s mother, wondering how on earth that dull man she met while selling insurance in St. Petersburg a few years back is now the prime minister.
Gessen was born in Moscow, emigrated to America with her family as a teenager in 1981, and returned to Russia ten years later to pursue a distinguished career as a journalist and LGBT activist. She came back to America in 2013, fearing that if she stayed in Russia, official hostility toward homosexuals could result in her children being seized by the state. Russia’s persecution of homosexuals is the strand of Gessen’s book that shows Putin at his cruelest. She arranges this narrative around Lyosha, who was born near Perm in 1985, and who was fifteen, on holiday in Crimea, when he recognized himself as gay:
When he saw other boys, teenagers like himself or young men, dressed, like he was, in only a pair of small black bathing trunks, he felt heat shoot excruciatingly through his body and a thrilling invisible shiver set in. It happened every day after that first time…. I am a pervert, he thought. I am sick. I am the only person in the world who feels this way.
The early post-Soviet period was not the very worst of times to be gay in Russia. Between 1989 and 1994, according to surveys conducted by the Russian sociologist Yuri Levada, support for “liquidating deviants” fell from 31 percent to 23 percent. It fell again to 15 percent in 1999, shortly before Lyosha had his realization. Homosexuality was no longer illegal. Teachers and doctors could talk about it if they wanted to. Lyosha did not much want to talk, but after a horrible beating from a local thug who was tipped off by a suspicious classmate, he opened up to a school counselor and discovered the liberating power of a sympathetic ear. He returned energized to his studies, graduated with distinction, and came out. 
Lyosha built an academic career as a pioneer of gender and LGBT studies at Perm University, but when government-sanctioned hate campaigns made his work impossible and put his life in danger, he left the country. The sadistic murder in 2013 of a young gay man in Volgograd made a deep impression on him, and Gessen’s account of it will make a deep impression on you too. Whatever Putin’s legacy, it includes—among other results of his state-approved homophobia—three bloody beer bottles and one dead boy.
Demonizing homosexuality is, most obviously, a way for Putin to assert Russia’s superiority over the West. The West’s acceptance of homosexuality is given as proof of its moral and social collapse. Putin also sees, correctly, that the equality of all sexual orientations is widely proclaimed in the West but not uniformly accepted, allowing Russia to pose as a beacon of hope for Western reactionaries. To make homosexuality seem truly evil even to Russians who had ceased to think of it as such, Putin conflated it with pedophilia. If, in the age-old anti-Semitic narrative, “they” were conspiring to steal the nation’s money, in Putin’s anti-gay narrative “they” are conspiring to steal the nation’s children.
As Gessen recounts, Putin encountered few obstacles in selling this notion to the public. Politicians competed to imagine new crimes with which LGBT people could be charged and new punishments for them. Even to contest the conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia marked the objector as a friend of the pedophile conspiracy. The crudeness and viciousness of views expressed in parliament and the media verged on the medieval. According to Dmitry Kiselev, a host on state-owned television: “If [gays] should die in a car accident, we need to bury their hearts underground or burn them; they are unsuitable for the aiding of anyone’s life.”
I suppose it is worth pointing out that just as my banker friend did not think Putin to be personally anti-Semitic, so I doubt that Putin hungers to murder homosexuals with his own bare hands. He might even enjoy the company of a gay grandson. When Oliver Stone asked him a question about gay rights in a recent series of interviews, Putin responded much as a middle-aged Western male might have responded forty years ago, jocularly and gingerly:
Putin: Sometimes I visit events where people publicly declare that they’re homosexuals, these events are attended by such people and we communicate and have good relations.
Stone: Is that true in the military as well?
Putin: There’s no restriction.
Stone: No restriction in the military? I mean, if you’re taking a shower in a submarine and you know he’s gay, do they have a problem with that?
Putin: [laughs] Well, I prefer not to go to the shower with him. Why provoke him?
At such moments, thinking of a young man on a park bench in Volgograd with three beer bottles up his rectum, you have to wonder about the mixture in Putin’s character of the stupid, the brilliant, the evil, and the naive.
While Lyosha very wisely gets out of Russia, Seryozha gets by there, Zhanna gets on, and Masha gets involved with the 2011 protest movement organized by Boris Nemtsov—Zhanna’s father—and by Alexei Navalny, a younger dissident. It is an uneasy alliance. Navalny is a nationalist, whereas Nemtsov is the last and best survivor of Yeltsin-era liberalism, perhaps the last true liberal to have held any meaningful political power in Russia. When Nemtsov is murdered within sight of the Kremlin in 2015, apparently for his opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Zhanna blames the killing squarely on Putin. Others report that Putin is both surprised and angered by Nemtsov’s murder, less because he has any affection for Nemtsov than because a high-profile assassination in the center of Moscow is a direct challenge to his own monopoly on violence.
The outlier among Gessen’s seven is Alexander Dugin, the only one to favor repression, to reject freedom, to want more and better Putinism. He is too big and too strange to fit easily into the story, and instead haunts its margins. Dugin has always seemed to me a bogus thinker, a fantasist, an opportunist. But others take him seriously, and he emerges from Gessen’s account as a prodigious consumer and manipulator of philosophy and political science.
Dugin was expelled from college and has been deeply influenced by Heidegger and Hitler. He’s allegedly capable of learning a new European language in two weeks merely from reading books in that language. He appropriates the arguments of the Russian Eurasianists, including the émigré linguist Nikolai Trubetskoy and the Soviet ethnographer Lev Gumilev, to the effect that Russia’s geographical sprawl between Europe and Asia gives the nation a unique, non-Western character. Russia is not a country, but a civilization. The Russian identity belongs not to the Russian Federation but to the “Russian World,” and the West is the natural enemy of the Russian World.
Dugin had his wilderness years in the 1990s, but with the arrival of Putin, his influence rocketed. His Eurasian Youth Union marched through Moscow. He was given a teaching job at Moscow State University. When, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin referred on television to “a Russian person, or, to speak more broadly, a person of the Russian World,” Dugin’s happiness was complete. He was putting words into Putin’s mouth that articulated in a suitably lofty manner their common vision of ethnic, cultural, and religious Russian supremacy. Dugin wants his Russian World to be totalitarian, which is to say, a world in which the state polices everybody’s thoughts as well as everybody’s actions. He opposes universal human rights and the rule of law as alien ideas from the hostile West.
Gessen claims in her title that Russia is already totalitarian. I imagine that Dugin would disagree. And from a different perspective, so would I. Take, for example, Gessen’s account of a moment after Masha has been arrested as a political protester in 2012. Under prolonged police investigation, she goes to stay in her mother-in-law’s dacha outside Moscow. The neighboring dacha belongs to a senior police officer called Natalia. The two fall into a conversation:
“Hey, you are part of the Bolotnoye case, aren’t you,” she asked when they were having a cigarette Masha’s first night at the dacha. It was cool and quiet and you could see the stars.
“Yeah,” said Masha.
“Who is your investigator?”
“Ah, Timokha!” Natalia’s voice sang with the joy of recognition. “He is one of mine. I had to send three people. It’s a big case. He doing his job?”
“Oh, he is doing his job, all right.”
“Good. Say hi to him there.”
That is not my idea of how life proceeds in a totalitarian society. I sense in this brief exchange humanity and sincerity on both sides. I do not want to generalize too much from this. Many horrible things happen in Russian police stations. But totalitarianism ought surely to be total, if only among the police.
The idea of categorizing dictatorships as either authoritarian or totalitarian is a twentieth-century one. Totalitarianism took as its examples Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. The distinction was of practical significance during the cold war, when there was a political need in the West to distinguish between cruel regimes that the US supported (Pinochet’s Chile, the Shah’s Iran) and cruel regimes that the US opposed (China, the USSR). The former was deemed authoritarian, the latter totalitarian. Totalitarian regimes were beyond hope of improvement; authoritarian regimes were not.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin; drawing by Siegfried Woldhek

If we accept the distinction between an authoritarian desire to control behavior and a totalitarian desire to control thought, then, as Gessen shows, Russia crossed that line some time ago under Putin. But what if you set Russia alongside North Korea? Putin wants all Russians to think like him, whereas Kim Jong-un would rather his subjects not think at all. That is not a very encouraging distinction, but at the darker end of government, it is surely one worth maintaining.
One problem with trying to understand totalitarianism is that, to the extent it succeeds, it is impenetrable to outsiders. Everything that is said and thought is the product of propaganda. Lev Gudkov, the sociologist in Gessen’s book, has a lucid account of this problem that merits quoting at some length, in Gessen’s paraphrase:
Looking from the outside in, one cannot see, for example, whether people attend a parade because they are forced to do so or because they so desire. Researchers generally assumed one or the other: either that people were passive victims or that they were fervent believers. But on the inside, both assumptions were wrong, for all the people at the parade…and for each one of them individually. They did not feel like helpless victims, but they did not feel like fanatics either. They felt normal. They were members of a society. The parades and various other forms of collective life gave them a sense of belonging that humans generally need…. They would not be lying if they said that they wanted to be part of the parade, or the collective in general—and that if they exerted pressure on others to be a part of a collective too, they did so willingly.
Another problem with trying to arrive at an account of totalitarianism—at least from a Western point of view—is that totalitarian societies are by definition the enemy, so we are not terribly interested in what their better points might be. “After the fall of the Soviet Union made it easier to study the country that had been,” Gessen writes, referring to the work of Sheila Fitzpatrick and others, “academics began noting how much richer private life had been in the USSR than they had once thought, how inconsistent and how widely disregarded the ideology, and how comparatively mild police enforcement became after Stalin’s death.”
This seems to be borne out by the lives of Gessen’s older characters. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, long before Gorbachev cracked open the old certainties, Arutyunyan the psychologist and Gudkov the sociologist were finding that Soviet academia allowed them a fair amount of room to maneuver, as long as this was exercised discreetly and deniable. For example, although you could not study the problems of Soviet society (Soviet society had only solutions), you could still study sociology so long as you pretended to be denouncing Western sociological theories, or if you called it something else. Gudkov’s mentor, Yuri Levada, was allowed to set up a department within the Academy of Sciences called the Institute for Concrete Social Studies. I also admire Gessen’s line that “the Soviet system offered not a vision of the future but the ability to know one’s future, much as tradesmen did in feudal times, and to make very small-scale, manageable decisions about the future.” If this was totalitarianism, you start to see why so many Russians wanted Putin to turn the clock back.
Gudkov argues that, in fact, the clock never moved. It was always striking thirteen. Institutions and systems designed for the totalitarian Soviet Union survived with little or no change into the new Russian state, encouraging totalitarian behavior to return through them. Elections became public displays of support for the regime, just like parades. Public protest was more frequent in Putin’s Russia than it had been in the Soviet Union, but only because the regime had reached a new understanding that street demonstrations changed nothing—on the contrary, they helped to maintain the existing order. Dissidents revealed themselves and were arrested. The rest of society was reassured by the regime’s show of power in shutting the demonstrations down.
Gudkov fears that the Soviet system has reshaped the Russian national character to such an extent that Russians can willingly recreate a totalitarian society among themselves even without compulsion from the state to do so. A corollary of that argument is that Russia can have a totalitarian society even without a totalitarian state—a useful formulation if one takes the view that the ultimate aim of the Putin regime is the accumulation of wealth even more than the accumulation of power. Thus Gessen, when she discusses the ideas of the Hungarian political scientist Bálint Magyar, can speak of Russia as a “mafia state ruling over a totalitarian society.”
With all due respect to Gessen and to Gudkov, the term “totalitarian” is being used loosely here. It may be useful to invoke the prospect of totalitarianism as a rhetorical way of alerting Russians to the fact that their government is a danger to themselves and to others. But to claim that Russia is already totalitarian is to absolve Russians in general from what is done in their name by proposing that they have been indoctrinated into acquiescence. One risks imagining the Russian nation which, freed from thought control, reveals itself to be liberal and freedom-loving. This is exactly the mistake that Westerners made when Soviet communism was on its last legs thirty years ago—and when, as Gessen so poignantly shows, what was revealed was the appetite for a newer and better dictator.
My own view of Putin is that he came to powerfully intending to be an authoritarian leader but also to allow some small degree of pluralism in politics and some larger degree of liberalism in private life and business, on the purely pragmatic grounds that he knew from Soviet times the weakness of totalitarianism. He would rather be Lee Kuan Yew than Robert Mugabe. But he found it personally intolerable to be criticized, let alone thwarted, so freedom to oppose him politically soon disappeared. Economics was a closed book to Putin when he took power, but he came to understand that a thriving market economy required a well-functioning rule of law capable of constraining even government—and that was the death knell for the market economy. Freedom in private life lasted rather longer but was eventually curtailed, most obviously in the sexual domain, when the stagnating regime needed new ways to mobilize popular support.
The theater and film director Andrei Konchalovsky, quoted by Christian Neef in Der Spiegel, sees roughly the same trajectory in Putin’s career, but attributes it to pressure from below:
Putin initially thought like a Westerner, but ultimately realized why every Russian ruler struggles to lead this nation: Because its inhabitants, in accordance with an unshakable tradition, freely delegate all their power to a single person, and then wait for that power to take care of them, without doing anything themselves.
We are close here to the dilemma of Bertolt Brecht’s poem “The Solution,” about the anti-Communist uprising in East Germany in 1953, and a thought that must have struck every observer of Russia at some time or other:
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia

by Masha Gessen
Riverhead, 515 pp

November 14, 2017

"I‘m going to live as I am, or I‘m going to die. Nothing else is possible" By 18yo Russian

 This is being done today!and the world just watches

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Bullied and beaten, analyzed and abused, Justin Romanov finally accepted his life in Russia was over. Being gay was a dance with death.

“I felt like I had two options: I‘m going to live as I am, or I‘m going to die. Nothing else is possible ... I cannot hide it. I cannot pretend to be straight,” he said.
Aged 18, he escaped to Canada, where he joined a crack team helping lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people flee from countries where homosexuality is banned or violently repressed.

Earlier this year he was involved in the Toronto-based group’s successful effort to bring to safety more than 30 Chechens, amid reports of mass arrests and torture of LGBT people in the deeply conservative Russian region.
As a volunteer for the group, Romanov helped them adapt to their new reality, assisting with accommodation, paperwork and bank accounts, as many did not speak English.

“I want to do as much as I can in my power to help other people, particularly from Russia,” Romanov, now 22, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.  
Advocacy group Rainbow Railroad covertly brought the Chechens, most aged between 19 and 25, out of Russia through a network of safehouses after news of mass detention of LGBT people first emerged in April.

Most had to leave in haste, bringing with them nothing more than a backpack or what they were wearing, said Rainbow Railroad’s executive director, Kimahli Powell.
“Some people...had never left their home and all of a sudden were leaving for good, so they were pretty traumatized,” he said.

The Chechens were among more than 150 LGBT people that the group helped resettle in 2017.
This year was a record year for the group, named in homage to a 19th-century network of safe houses and secret paths used by slaves to escape bondage in the United States, said Powell.

It has so far received more than 1,000 requests for help, twice as many as in 2016.
The boom was fueled by Chechnya and anti-gay crackdowns in Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Indonesia, adding to its traditional work in hotspots such as Jamaica and Uganda, said Powell.
“Unfortunately there seems to be a wave of homophobic backlash,” he said during an interview in London.

Homosexuality is outlawed in more than 70 nations and punishable with death in eight, including Iran, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, according to ILGA, an international LGBT rights group.
“Sometimes people are facing imminent danger and need to leave the country,” Powell said ahead of speaking at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual two-day Trust Conference.

Rainbow Railroad helps them find the best way out, taking care of visas and travel, including a plane ticket.


Romanov knows what it means to leave everything behind.

Born in Ulyanovsk, a city 800 kilometers east of Moscow, he came out as gay at the age of 14 - meeting a chilling reception from the local community and his own family.

His father accused him of bringing shame to his house, while his aunt took him to a psychologist to be “cured”.

At school, he was beaten up and bullied.

Tired of the abuse, he wrote for help to his then-idol: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The letter went unanswered but three months later his parents were called in by local police and told it was in their son’s best interest to keep his sexuality under wraps.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Russia but activists say homophobia is rife and a law banning the dissemination of information on LGBT issues to young people has fueled anti-gay abuse, discrimination, and violence.

The government says the legislation is solely designed “to defend morality and children’s health” and does not amount to a ban on homosexuality.

Russia ranked as the second worst country in Europe for LGBT people in a 2017 survey by ILGA.

By the time he turned 16, Romanov felt his hometown was no longer safe.

“When I walked on the street with my mum, random people would stop their car and call me ‘faggot’,” he said.

But leaving home and moving to the capital of Moscow brought no respite from the endless barrage of threats and violence.

Even walking down the street with his boyfriend gave bystanders enough reason to beat them until they drew blood.

The wake-up call came when a gay friend was attacked and died in front of him - Romanov knew the same fate awaited him.

Supported by his mother, who came to accept her son’s sexual orientation, Romanov fled to Canada in 2013.

“It felt like I died and went to heaven. I thought it wasn’t real,” he said, referring to his new life in Toronto.

“Everyone accepts me the way I am. No one cares if I‘m gay or straight,” he said.

He is now studying to become a human rights lawyer.

“I don’t want young Russian people ever to experience what I experienced,” he said.

By Umberto Bacchi and Lin Taylor

Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi and Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

August 13, 2017

While Police Looked on, Gay Activists Got Pepper Gassed at St Petersburg, Russia

After the LGBT parade activists and journalists were attacked by Russian “titushki”.

The incident occurred on Saturday, August 12 at the Champ de Mars in St. Petersburg. Young people in sports clothes attacked participants of the LGBT pride. They used pepper gas against the activists.

The police that was on duty at the scene, did not make any attempt to detain offenders. The defenders of law and order were across the street from the victims and saw firsthand the daring, the danger of injury.
The attack injured 10 people. One girl was hospitalized due to eye injuries. In addition to the participants of the pride, also journalists working at the scene got injured. The video shows that the Russian “titushki” did not spare pepper gas and liberally spray it in people’s faces.

Just like in the United States the White Supremacists Violent demonstrations which they feel empowered because they have someone in the White House with staff that is part of them feels like them so do these Russian attackers feel supported by Trump's bro Putin. Putin has had enacted anti gay laws so those that leaning toward violence towards people they don't like they pick their President's punching bag, the gays.

This law which Putin refers as to protect the children from gays. I guess his little mind can not get around that gays start as children. Gays were children and gay children or leaning that way seeing older gays being attacked, all it does is damaged their minds. Damaged because they feel shame and try to hide who they are which latter manifests in all kinds of self-hurting behavior to their lives.

Im sure Russia must have some social scientists that have studied what others have and know that being gay is not something you put on like Putin Fedora silly hat.

 Look how that ignorant pervert just gingerly attacked everyone without any fear.

August 9, 2017

Russian Court Blocks Gay Journalist's Deportation to Uzbekistan

A Moscow appeals court has temporarily blocked the deportation of a gay journalist to Uzbekistan, where rights groups had warned he could face imprisonment and torture.

The imminent expulsion of the journalist, Khudoberdy Nurmatov, to Uzbekistan, ranked by rights groups as one of the most repressive countries in the world and where homosexuality is illegal, has attracted international criticism and appeals to Russia to halt it. On Friday, the European Court of Human Rights ordered an emergency stay on Nurmatov's deportation.

The judge at the Moscow City Court today responded to that order, ruling that no deportation will take place until Nurmatov’s case has been examined by the European Court.

Nurmatov will now likely remain in a migrant detention center until the European Court ruling, one of his lawyers said. That could take between a year and 18 months, the lawyer, Tatiana Glushkova, told ABC News by phone.

Nurmatov, who writes under the pen name, Ali Feruz, works for the Russian investigative newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. He fled Uzbekistan several years ago after being tortured by the country's security forces, who had pressured him to become an informant, according to his lawyers. Nurmatov, who was born in Russia but grew up in Uzbekistan, returned to Moscow in 2011 but a year later lost his passport, leaving him undocumented.

He has appealed for asylum in Russia but was rejected and last week police arrested him as walked to work at the newspaper. He has been held at the detention center since a lower court ruled that he be expelled to Uzbekistan.

Human rights groups have warned that Nurmatov would likely face imprisonment and torture if he returned to Uzbekistan, given that he is openly gay and has been harassed by Uzbekistan’s security services.

“It’s not a death sentence, but it’s very close to it,” Denis Kriovsheev, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, told ABC News on Monday of the potential deportation. “It’s very dangerous baggage to take back to Uzbekistan,” he said.

Thousands of people are held as political prisoners in Uzbekistan, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, and torture is well-documented. The country’s LGBT community faces significant harassment; sex between men is a criminal offense, punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. An HRW report earlier this year found police extorted gay men by threatening to imprison them or publicly out them.

In court today, Nurmatov told reporters he believed the efforts to deport him were connected with his journalistic work, saying the troubles began after he published an article on elections in Uzbekistan. He said he feared a “slow painful death” awaited him in Uzbekistan, his newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported. 

Khudoberdy Nurmatov, who writes for Russian Novaya Gazeta newspaper under the pen name Ali Feruz, right, sits as his mother Zoya Nurmatova, left, gestures in a court room in Moscow, Russia.

The European Union’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, earlier this week called on Russia to release Nurmatov.

“International law prohibits sending a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that the person may be subjected to torture or ill-treatment,” Muiznieks wrote in a Facebook post last Wednesday. Nurmatov has filed a new temporary asylum application in Russia but his lawyer Glushkova said she feared it would be rejected again.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow is aware of the case but told reporters in a briefing it was “very complicated” and that migration violations by Nurmatov couldn’t be ignored.

Russia was already under scrutiny for the treatment of its LGBT community, after reports emerged early this year that authorities in the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya were systematically rounding up and torturing dozens of gay men.

Nurmatov’s newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, was instrumental in uncovering those detentions in Chechnya, for which it has since received death threats.

Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the reports by asserting that there aren’t any gay men in Chechnya. After an international outcry, the Kremlin pledged to investigate but has since been accused of trying to shield the Chechen authorities.

Today’s decision is a reprieve for Nurmatov, but he will likely now remain in detention for some time. Tatiana Glushkova, his lawyer, said that the European Court had prioritized his case, meaning it should be processed within a year to 18 months. If the court upholds that Nurmatov cannot be deported to Uzbekistan, Glushkova said, the hope is Russia will release him and a European country will offer him asylum. She said one European country had already offered to help.

“I did hope that Ali will be released today and when I received the information that it didn’t happen, I was really upset,” Glushkova said by phone. But she said she was very relieved by the ruling, which she said meant Russia had recognized the European Court decision and that Nurmatov was not in Uzbekistan.

“Plan minimum has been implemented. Now plan maximum is released Ali and remove him to a third country,” she said.


    October 1, 2015

    Gays in Russia are Invisible in the Shadows


    When photographer Tatiana Vinogradova set out to document the intolerance toward homosexuality in Russia, her first challenge was finding people willing to be captured on camera.

    "Reality has driven the gay community underground," Vinogradova said. "In Russia, only 1% of the gay population dares to live openly. That is why the general mood in my work is dark and melancholic.

    "The visual concept mirrors the idea that being gay in Russia is not a rainbow-colored life. In our country, rainbows have some very somber shades."

    The numbers present a stark reality. Vinogradova read a 2013 survey by the Levada Center that said 74% of Russians did not think homosexuality should be accepted by society. Additionally, it said 16% of Russians thought gay people should be isolated from society, 22% thought they should be forced to undergo treatment and 5% thought they should be "liquidated."

    Unable to stay indifferent about this intolerance, Vinogradova wanted to use her camera as a way to promote human rights and advocate for social change. She reached out to LGBT organizations and social networking sites looking for subjects.

    Many of the responses were rejections, claiming that they saw the importance of her project but weren't ready to come out through a photograph.

    Not everyone had the same reaction, however, and Vinogradova was able to begin her project. Using natural light, she was able to reflect their inner isolation and loneliness.

    Before taking their photographs, Vinogradova would have conversations with her subjects and a personal story emerged for each one: "About rejection by their parents and intolerance from society, about coming out and accepting themselves as gay, about loneliness and fears, about their dreams and love," she said.

    The photos in her project, "Melancholy Days," were captured over a two-year span, full of men who were tired of hiding their true selves.

    Vinogradova still doesn't understand why they are so ostracized by society. But she does believe that portraits have power.

    "I chose to take poetic, intimate portraits depicting an internal beauty of the characters," she said. "And I want people to take just a few minutes to recognize each other's beauty instead of attacking each other for their differences."

    Vinogradova started photography three years ago. It gives her creative fulfillment while also immortalizing moments and emotions that she wants to share with others.

    Currently, Vinogradova is working on more portrait series.

    "For me, portraiture is the hardest and the same time, most mysterious genre," she said. "It invites the viewer to study another person with an immediacy that could never be experienced in real life without embarrassment. Also, it describes how venturous and curious you are. You're face to face with somebody and there is no escaping."

    Tatiana Vinogradova is a photographer based in Russia. You can follow her on Facebook.

    June 16, 2015

    Putin is Surrounded by the GAY


    Philipp Kirkorov
     Pop king Philipp Kirkorov at the Elena Souproun fashion in
     Moscow in 2013. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain

    “Moscow is like a small European city in the mid-90s,” says Anton Krasovsky. “Everybody knows everybody. Everybody knows who’s gay, even if nobody’s out.”
    Well, not nobody. In 2013, when the Duma was debating a new law outlawing “gay propaganda”, Krasovsky was a beloved Russian TV personality, working for a news channel he’d co-founded called Kontr TV. At the end of a wide-ranging discussion on the proposed legislation, Krasovsky said, on air: “I’m gay. And I’m just as much a human being as President Putin, or Prime Minister Medvedev, or the members of the Duma.” Less than a week later, Krasovsky was no longer working for Kontr TV, the clip was removed from the archives and his face had been scrubbed from the website.
    And yet ask him and his friends what it’s like to be gay in Moscow and they shrug. “Moscow attracts gay men from all the villages, so there are more gay people in Moscow than anywhere else in Russia. And they all just want what everyone else wants: somebody to love.”

    Journalists Anton Krasovsky and Tatyana Felgengauer at the Edward Snowden Internet Media Awards in 2014 in Moscow.

     Journalists Anton Krasovsky and Tatyana Felgengauer at the Edward Snowden Internet Media Awards in 2014 in Moscow. Photograph: TASS/Barcroft Media

    Moscow is, indeed, gayer than you might think. There might not be many dedicated gay clubs – the five-floor behemoth of Central Station being a notable exception – but many bars and restaurants have gay nights, from Cafe Mart to Mono to the famous Sunday discos at Propaganda. When it comes to clubbing, at least, the biggest concern for gay men in Moscow isn’t prejudice but what Russians call “face control”, which the Daily Beast describes as “knowing the right people – or having the right look”. There’s a gay magazine, Kvir (say it out loud) with listings and frothy lifestyle features: more Out than Advocate. With all the media furore over rising anti-LGBT activity in Russia in recent years, it can be a surprise to see how pink the capital feels in some places. 
    “As if I’m so old to know about that!” bristles Tim, 22, a model agent having a drink at Sanctions Bar, when asked if gay life has got harder in Moscow over the last five years. “But no, it is getting better here. Of course I am out because I work in fashion – most people in my office are gay – but I have to hide it from other people. But there are more gay nights and I think things are improving.” 
    Sanctions Bar itself – a semi-ironic anti-western theme bar decorated with oil drums, dollar bill toilet paper and a menu featuring Barack Obama’s face crossed out – has just recently started dabbling in attracting a gay clientele. Tim is wearing a blue ribbon on his wrist. “A white ribbon means single, red means in a relationship and blue means flirting. They made us choose one. I didn’t really want to.”
    There might not be much in the way of Russian public media celebrating gay life, but Tim watches the E network and the Kardashians and considers New York his spiritual home. “Still, my dream is to be able to walk down the street holding my partner’s hand. I don’t think that will ever happen in Moscow.”
    Andrey, 27, an engineer, is one of those “gay men from the villages”. Born in Grozny and raised in a village near Moscow, he moved to the capital at 21, drawn by the Eurovision song contest that Russia hosted in 2009. “Of course I was immediately very excited in Moscow,” he said over a coffee on a sunny June afternoon in the rear courtyard of Cafe Mart, next to Moscow’s Museum of Modern Art. “In Grozny I had to keep it a secret from my parents and my friends. But of course I needed to meet men, to have boyfriends and to have sex.” Andrey used apps, but on moving to Moscow found he didn’t need to be quite so discreet any more – although he’s still in the closet at work. “It makes me uncomfortable when men talk about women. A colleague asked me which of the girls at the office I’d like to hook up with. I said I don’t date in the workplace.” 
    Apps have made being gay in Moscow a lot easier. Grindr is ever popular – a hacked location file revealed several users within the walls of the Kremlin itself – but Hornet is increasingly used because of the fact you can have public images as well as private ones, revealed only on request. Reports of anti-LGBT activists setting up fake accounts to lure and then abuse gay men (sometimes recording it on video) have made Andrey and his friends more cautious. “I don’t invite men on apps to my house. We meet up, have a conversation, go for a walk.” He doesn’t reveal his sexuality in public. “With apps, you often find friends on there who you didn’t know were gay. Then you can reveal yourself to them. In public, it’s dangerous if you’re not sure. Some men are gay but deny it.” He starts listing some famous public figures. 

    There are fewer events catering for lesbians in Moscow, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Among the most popular are women-only parties named after the US television series The L Word, run by 29-year-old Karina Krasavina.
    The  L Word takes place every two weeks at a club in the city centre, and will be celebrating its sixth birthday this weekend. Krasavina said she has never had any trouble from the authorities. Her business partner, 24-year-old Nastya Laut, laughed off any safety concerns.
    “There are so many gay women in Moscow – we’re everywhere these days,” she said. “It’s become normal. Sure, there are people who don’t understand or who are negative, but most are fine with it. My family are fine with it and my friends are fine with it and I never feel that I’m in danger. We just have a good time.”
    But LGBT activist and journalist Elena Kostyuchenko said not all homosexual women are able to be so open. She said that even the venues catering for gay women often choose not to advertise their orientation. 
    “Many of the LGBT clubs look like a normal restaurants during they day - people come to have business lunches or whatever. Then only at night do they become an LGBT club. So even the venues have a double life,” she said.  
    Indeed, Moscow’s gay people seem more stoic than angry. They’ve even appropriated their own abuse: if something silly or stupid or weird happens in Europe, it’s derided as “Gayropa”. What concerns many homosexual Muscovites most, it seems, is less fear for their safety or inability to meet other gay men and women, than legal legitimacy – the ability to share property with a partner, or pass on inheritances without interference from grasping relatives, or raise kids.
    Krasovsky wants kids; his partner, who is younger, does not. Does he worry that Muscovites wouldn’t be supportive if they say two men raising a child? 
    “Yes, of course. But there are ways. It can be done. It’s just dangerous.”

    He understands why more men aren’t out in Moscow, and while he hopes other public figures will join him, he understands the reasons they don’t. “It immediately puts you at the bottom of the food chain. You become like a migrant worker in your own country.” In general, Krasovsky wears his gay activism uncomfortably. “It’s not like in America: rah-rah, I’m so proud. In Moscow, we are more just trying to live our lives.” He self-mockingly shows me his Grindr profile: a string of messages from men, most asking: “Are you really Anton Krasovsky?”, but the occasional one saying: “It’s great to see you here.” 
    He might be Moscow’s highest-profile openly gay man, but seems embarrassed about his decision to come out on air, and keeps deflecting my questions to his friends. Eventually, however, he almost shyly admits that he knows exactly why he did it. “It’s scary [to come out]. Even in England, sometimes it scary to do. But it is better to be afraid to die in a battle, but go into this fight [anyway], than all your life be stupidly afraid and sit in a bomb shelter.
    “It’s like Pink Floyd’s The Wall … ‘new car, caviar.’ You might have that, but you still have to remember the truth. It’s pathetic, but the truth is still important.”
    This story originally posted at The Guardian. The story written by  and in Moscow

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