Showing posts with label Russia-Nazi like. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia-Nazi like. Show all posts

August 7, 2019

"Gay Hunters" in Russia is What The Name Implies } LGBT's in Russia Need To Be Careful





   



LGBT activist Yelena Grigoryeva was found brutally murdered on July 21 ( Photo/Olga MALTSEVA)
                     

Saint Petersburg (AFP) - When LGBT activist Yelena Grigoryeva found her name on a hit list of a "gay-hunting" group, she did not appear to take the threat seriously.

The group called itself "Pila", meaning "saw", after the series of Hollywood horror films of the same name, in which a serial killer plays games with his victims.

Pila promised "very dangerous and cruel little gifts" to a number of Russia's gay activists.

"That's just a threat," Grigoryeva wrote on Facebook early last month, posting a screen grab of the group's website on her page.

"This is not how crimes are committed."

On July 21, her body was found in bushes close to her home in Saint Petersburg, with at least eight stab wounds to her face and back. She was 41.

The murder has horrified Russia's LGBT community, even though there seems to be no firm evidence linking Pila directly to Grigoryeva's fatal stabbing.

"I do not know who these people are, but it's significant that people who think this way live among us," said activist Mikhail Tumasov, who has also received threats from Pila.

"Many people would like to do in reality what Pila is threatening us with. The idea has emerged that killing people over their sexual orientation is not just normal, but noble," he told AFP.

Russia's gays and lesbians are no strangers to violence, hate crimes and even homophobic murders.

But a vigilante group seeking to turn violence against LGBT people into a game and encouraging Russians to hunt them down for sport plumbs new lows, campaigners say.

Activists said the Pila website had been around for about a year, posting names and pictures of their targets and promising "awards" for attacks on them.

- 'Start protecting citizens' -

Prominent activist Igor Kochetkov accused authorities of doing little to stop it as he urged police to probe the website and the death threats against Grigoryeva.

"Dear police and other law enforcement agencies. It's time to get to work!" Kochetkov, whose name was also on the hit list, said in a recent video address.

"Start protecting all citizens! And if you believe that people like us should not be protected find yourselves a different job."

Pila's website has only recently been blocked, as have its channels on the popular encrypted messaging app Telegram.

But Pila has promised "to play until the end", despite the ban.

Late last month, investigators arrested a man suspected of killing Grigoryeva, suggesting the attack was the result of a personal dispute.

Then they said they had taken the wrong man and detained a new suspect.

But the investigators made no mention of the homophobic threats against the activist, implying she was killed by a drinking companion.

Separately, Russia's Anti-Extremism Centre said it could not conduct a probe into Pila because its website had been blocked.

LGBT activists accuse authorities of refusing to properly investigate Grigoryeva's murder and the homophobic group.

They say Pila may not be made up of cold-bloodied killers, but that its main goal was to further terrorise Russia's beleaguered gay community.

"Pila is dangerous because it sows hatred. It inspires people to commit real crimes," said Alla Chikinda, spokeswoman for an LGBT support centre in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

The centre, too, has received threats from Pila, which called for it to be shut down.

"You will be the next victims of our game if you don't comply with our conditions," the group warned in a letter.

The Yekaterinburg centre has now installed video cameras and complained to the police.

- 'Feeling of impunity' -

Even though Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, it remains a deeply homophobic society.

A rise in violence against gays has been seen since 2013, when Russia passed a law banning gay "propaganda" among minors.

At a G20 summit in Japan in June, President Vladimir Putin insisted Russia respected gay rights, but also made fun of gender identity.

"Transformers, trans... I don't even understand what this is," he said.

In July, Russia opened an unprecedented criminal case accusing officials of negligence for allowing a gay couple to adopt two children.

Activists say it should come as no surprise that groups like Pila did not fear punishment.

"They enjoy a feeling of impunity," said Vitaly Bespalov, editor at a gay online portal and one of the targets.

"They know they will face nothing for it."

August 6, 2019

Gay Russian Activist Fears For More LGBT Purges Back home




    
  




DRONTEN REFUGEE CENTER, THE NETHERLANDS — Artyom Shitukhin decided last March that enough was enough. Following what he described as months of harassment by police, and expulsion from the university in his hometown of Pyatigorsk, the LGBT activist bought a one-way ticket to Morocco with a stopover in Amsterdam, where he got off the plane and requested asylum.
Speaking to The Moscow Times at an immigration center in rural Holland, Artyom, 20, said he feels safe in his new country. He has been granted Dutch residence status and is looking forward to attending his first Pride parade this weekend in Amsterdam. 
While life is good for Artyom, he can’t stop thinking about what happened earlier this month back in his native Russia.
On July 21, Yelena Grigoriyeva, a vocal LGBT rights advocate, was found with multiple stab wounds and signs of strangulation near her home in St. Petersburg. 
"We used to text a lot," Shitukhin said. "She was always there to give me and other members of the LGBT community in Russia advice."
Artyom Shitukhin says he feels safe in The Netherlands but worries for his friends back in Russia.
For Shitukhin, the activist’s murder felt personal. Last month, along with Grigoriyeva and other prominent LGBT activists, he was named on a "death list" circulated online by anti-LGBT group Pila (Saw).  
The group, inspired by the "Saw" horror movie franchise, calls for violence against members of the Russian LGBT community and posts their private information on social media, including their addresses and phone numbers.
The group first came to the attention of human rights defenders in April 2018, when it claimed credit for a series of attacks on members of the LGBT community in Russia's Bashkiria region. It also claims to have played an active role in a series of “gay purges” in Russia’s Chechnya region that made headlines across the world. 
So far, however, neither human rights organizations nor the authorities have been able to establish if Pila has actually played a role in acts of violence against sexual minorities in Russia. 
Shortly after Grigoriyeva's murder, Russia's Investigative Committee said it had evidence to show her death was the result of a domestic dispute, and arrested 38-year-old Kyrgyz man. On Thursday, investigators announced that they arrested another suspect, a 27-year old man from St.Petersburg who has reportedly confessed to the murder.
Grigoriyeva's fellow human rights activists believe the authorities are not doing enough to investigate the possible motives for the murder.
"We have no direct evidence to suggest Pila or any other hate group was responsible for the murder, but the investigators are clearly not looking at all the theories," said Igor Kochetkov, the head of the St. Petersburg-based LGBT Network.
Kochetkov, who also appeared on Pila’s list, fears that by not getting to the bottom of what happened to Grigoriyeva, the authorities are “normalizing violence against gay groups,” which could have “critical consequences." 
Nikita Tomilov, 22, a prominent LGBT activist from Yekaterinburg who is also on Pila’s list believes the timing of Grigoriyeva's murder is suspicious. 
"First the list shows up and a month later she is dead," he said.
Tomilov wasn't too worried when he first saw Pila's post online.
"When a friend sent me the 19 names on the list I was extremely skeptical it would actually lead to anything. We get these threats quite often and I didn't think it was dangerous. But damn, now there are only 18 of us, and I am frightened," he said.
Tomilov has started avoiding public spaces and decided to work from home after he was followed on two separate occasions after Grigoriyeva's murder. 
He is planning to leave Russia soon.
Following complaints from Kochetkov and others to the police, Pila's website was taken offline two weeks ago. But activists say they are still receiving threatening social media messages and emails. 
In online screenshots seen by The Moscow Times, Pila vows to inflict violence on both Shitukhin and Tomilov. In one Instagram story, the group says it has "chosen" Tomilov as its next target. 
LGBT activist Nikita Tomilov says the anti-LGBT group Pila has 'chosen' him as its next target 
According to Kochetkov, hate groups like Pila are able to operate in Russia with the tacit approval of the authorities.
He said homophobia has been swelling in Russia since the 2013 passing of the so-called gay propaganda law, which prohibits behavior that could be seen as promoting homosexuality to minors, including same-sex kissing in public or carrying a rainbow flag.
"The law has really legitimized fringe groups like Pila. The biggest danger of these groups isn't that they kill someone. By singling out people they inspire and help lunatics across the country to take matters in their own hands."
According to LGBT Network research, 90% of all violence against sexual minorities goes unrecorded in the country, as victims do not believe the police will help them. 
Shitukhin and Tomilov said they felt "abandoned" by the police that were meant to protect them.
Tomilov said that when he first approached police in Yekaterinburg to voice his concerns about Pila they told him he shouldn't defend "people that are like animals."
Shitukhin’s distrust of the authorities is more profound — he said his correct address appeared on Pila's website shortly after he went to the police to report the group, suggesting that the group has ties to officials. The Moscow Times was unable to verify this independently.
For now, despite Pila’s ongoing threats, Kochkarov believes it is important to keep calm and not let the group “attain its goal of sowing panic."
"As Roosevelt once said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ We have nothing to be embarrassed about. Love is a beautiful thing," he said.

June 2, 2019

Elton John Furious Over Russia’s Censorship of Gay Scenes on Rocket Man


 Executive producer Sir Elton John attends the Rocketman UK premiere at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square in London
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSir Elton has previously criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin's "ridiculous" attitude to gay rights.
Sir Elton John has criticised a Russian film company's decision to cut gay sex scenes from his new biopic Rocketman.
The local film distributor told state news agency Tass it cut scenes from the film to comply with Russian laws.
The British singer and the makers of Rocketman issued a statement saying they rejected the censorship "in the strongest possible terms". 
Sir Elton has previously spoken out against Russian laws banning "gay propaganda".  
In a statement shared on his Twitter page late on Friday, he described the censorship of Rocketman as a "sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people."
"We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world," the statement said. 
Presentational white space
Presentational grey line

Another example of LGBT censorship

Analysis by Ben Hunte, BBC News, LGBT correspondent
We have seen all of this before. The same discussions were had around Bohemian Rhapsody, which was released last year. The film was accused of employing "straight washing" and "queer-erasure" for international marketability, as Rami Malek's Freddie Mercury portrayal was not out-and-proud about his sexuality. 
It also happened with Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which almost had a gay moment removed for release in certain markets. Even Eurovision was dragged into the discussion last year, when a Chinese broadcaster censored LGBT elements of the competition.
LGBT censorship is happening all over the world. 
Elton John has long been a gay icon. He came out as LGBT in the 1970s and he is easily one of the world's most well-known activists. Ultimately, this is a film about his life, and people know who he is and what he stands for. Even with some of the most revealing gay scenes being removed from the movie, for many people, his story being told globally in biopic form will still be seen as groundbreaking.
Presentational grey line
Rocketman tells the story of the popular musician's rise to fame. 
It includes a male sex scene and a photograph in the closing credits of Sir Elton, 72, and his real-life husband. 
Media captionRocketman is a musical film about Sir Elton John's career and how he broke into the industry
After watching the film during an early screening in Moscow, local journalists and critics reported that an estimated five minutes had been removed. 
Film critic Anton Dolin wrote on Facebook (in Russian) that "all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out."
"The nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale," he added, referencing a tribute to Sir Elton's husband.
Another journalist who attended the screening, Misha Kozyrev, said scenes depicting drug use had also been removed.
A spokesman for local film distributor Central Partnership confirmed that it had altered the film, telling Tass it had done so to comply with Russian laws.
Olga Lyubimova, head of the Culture Ministry's cinema department, told the news agency that no specific demands had been put on the distributor to change the film.
"You know perfectly well that numerous Western and Russian films are related to the problem of drug use... it would be wrong to say that we are engaging in any form of censorship," she said.
However, she added that films are expected comply with Russian laws on "paedophilia, ethnic and religious hatred and pornography."
Speaking to the BBC in 2015, Sir Elton criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin's "ridiculous" attitude to gay rights.
He said he wanted to meet with Mr Putin to discuss the issue.  Media caption
Sir Elton: I'll try to influence Putin's gay rights attitude
Rocketman is set to be released in cinemas across Russia on Thursday

December 9, 2018

New Internet Laws in Russia with The Help of US Tech Giants Spell Trouble to Anyone Who Dissents











A 2017 law regulating online activity and anonymous speech went into effect in Russia at the beginning of this month. 
The law “on information and information technology” stipulates what content search providers are legally allowed to show. Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor, known as the “censorship ministry”) already maintains a registry of banned websites, created in 2012. The list of banned sites range from online gambling to extremist material and information on the use of narcotics. Search engines are now prohibited from showing these sites in their search results. 
To facilitate the implementation of the registry, Russian agencies created the Federal State Information System to act as a bridge between the registry and search providers. These search providers are now legally mandated to connect to this system through an API so that banned websites will automatically be filtered out. Yandex, Russia's largest search engine has connected to the API, but Google has so far not compliedwith these new requirements, which may leave it subject to a petty fine (by Google's standards) of up to 700,000 rubles, or about USD $10,000.
The law also dictates when and how a user can anonymously use the internet, such as through VPN (Virtual Private Networks) software that allows users to mask the origin of their traffic through servers in other countries, thereby avoiding locally-based content restrictions and censorship.
Google has been censoring search results in Russia on the basis of local laws for quite some time. Links to popular Russian torrent sites disappeared over a year ago from both Yandex and Google as Roskomnadzor deemed the sites illegal. As RuNet Echo reported earlier, Google has also been accused of over-complying with censorship requests from the Russian government, such as removing YouTube videos posted by opposition figure Alexey Navalny, and most recently, blocking a controversial rapper’smusic video. 
Several years ago, Google moved some of its servers to Russia in accordance with laws compelling companies to store their data on Russian citizens on Russian soil. With some servers now in Russia, the authorities have a more direct means of forcing the company to comply with local law.
Users have long suggested using VPNs to go around these types of measures, but the law’s provisions took this into account as well: VPN providers must block the sites, or face being blocked themselves. But this may be easier said than done. The Russian government banned Telegram earlier this year, but the app is still up and running and being used all across Russia without a VPN. Similar attempts to block VPN services could meet limited success, due to their decentralized infrastructure. This leaves the threat of a fine as the most salient option at Roskomnador’s disposal against VPNs and search providers that do not connect to the new federal system.
While the proposed fine may seem paltry from the perspective of massive tech companies like Google, sources close to Russian tech operations have said that amendments are in the works to drastically increase fines. Rather than capping the fines at 700,000 rubles, the new rules allegedly peg the fines at 1% of the company’s earnings.
While regular internet users don’t have to worry about such excessive fines, they too could soon face other repercussions for anonymously using the internet. Roskomnadzor has spearheaded new rules that require messaging apps to identify users based on their mobile provider. This in effect ties a user’s phone number to their personal identity. 
Apps like Signal and Telegram pride themselves on allowing a user to communicate practically anonymously if they so wish. By obligating such apps to verify a user’s identity with their service provider, the Russian government is attempting to crack down on dissent and what they see as criminal activity. Telegram voluntarily registered with Roskomnadzor in 2017, which makes them liable under the new law. Signal does not keep servers in Russia and may run the risk of being banned there for non-compliance with the rule, but it also has a relatively small user base in Russia.
Aleksandr Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, stated plainly:
The ability to communicate anonymously on messaging apps makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes. The government’s current decree is a necessary step in creating a safe communication environment for both citizens and the state as a whole.  
In many instances, the ability to post content online anonymously is a major draw for users. Being able to express an opinion or expose injustices without using one's identity is now more important than ever, seeing as how people have been facing criminal chargers simply for posting memes.  
And the consequences of de-anonymizing a user have been seen in various scenarios. After last month’s suicide attack at an FSB (Federal Security Service, Russia's domestic intelligence agency) office, the administrator of an anonymous Telegram channel was arrested for spreading messages glorifying the attacker. It is unknown if Telegram cooperated with law enforcement to expose this user, but if messaging apps start to follow these new rules, more prosecutions can be expected along with an outright drop in dissenting voices online.
These new laws and rules, along with the plethora of other laws regulating the collection of online users’ data, make it difficult to use online platforms to voice discontent in Russia. At a time when both online and public spaces face increasing limitations on expression in Russia, further restrictions should worry Russians and non-Russians alike. Though individual users can take measures to protect their accounts, such as using two-factor verification, there is little they can do to protect themselves from backdoor transmission of their data to the authorities.

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