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Moron Of The Week: Russian MP Alexei Zhuravlev
Ok, it’s been a long time since I last updated this list, but this guy really deserves a spot on the list. And here’s why:
Speaking to Russian magazine Slon (and translated by the Straight Alliance For LGBT Equality), the politician compares gay people to ‘thieves’, ‘sinners’ and ‘corrupters’: "We view Europe as Sodom and Gomorrah. Europe must not tell us how to live. The Europeans can live any way they like, but they mustn’t tell us what to do. Of course [a gay mother] should definitely be deprived of her rights to the child. Homosexuals must not raise children. They corrupt them. They do them much more harm than if the child were in an orphanage. I am deeply convinced of this."
Last week he introduced a bill which authorises the government to seize the children of gay parents.
Song Of The Day: Mister Chase - Wonderful
"A message for the LGBT of Russia."
Russia: MP Alexander Mikhailov Calls For Law Allowing Gays To Be Whipped In Public Squares
Pink News UK reports:
A Russian MP has reportedly called for the right of marines to whip gay people in public.
Alexander Mikhailov is deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Trans-Baikal Parliament and said he plans to put forward the violent proposal as a new regional law.
Speaking to the Chita news agency on Thursday, Mr Mikhailov linked gay people to paedophiles and suggested they should be whipped in public squares by “marines”.
He described homosexuality as a “common shame”.
Referencing a doctor, who criticised the decision of several European countries to legalise marriage rights for same-sex couples, Mr Mikhailov praised the doctor and reportedly said: “We have to deal with such things”. He added that his province should adopt a law in which the marines have the right to flog the “asses” of gay people.
“In Russia for many centuries the ass was used for educational purposes and not for love entertainment. So we should use it according to its intended purpose,” the MP said.
Last week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Russian MPs for passing a draconian homophobic censorship law.
Earlier this month,President Vladimir Putin said he would back a ban on foreign same-sex couples from adopting Russian children, but denied it amounts to homophobic discrimination.
"Imagine this: it’s the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. A huge television event, watched the world over. The American Olympians join the proud march of nations. They’re our emissaries, our exemplars. And as the television cameras zoom in on Team U.S.A., one of its members quietly pulls out a rainbow flag, no bigger than a handkerchief, and holds it up. Not ostentatiously high, but just high enough that it can’t be mistaken.
"Another American follows suit. Then another, and another. Within minutes the flags are everywhere in the American delegation, subtly recurring bursts of color and of honor, a gay-rights motif with a message: we’re here in Russia to compete, but we’re not here in Russia to assent. We have gay sisters. Gay brothers. Gay neighbors and friends and fans and probably teammates, and we reject the laws of a land that deems it O.K. to arrest them for speaking their truth or us for speaking up for them."
Russia: Homophobic Lawmaker Vitaly Milonov Targets Pro-Gay Artists With Visa Investigation
Anti-gay lawmaker Vitaly Milonov appears to be sending a message to performing artists coming to Russia: speak out in favor of gay rights and be investigated. Milonov appears to have triggered an investigation into visits to the country by Lady Gaga and Madonna, both of whom made spectacles of Russia’s anti-gay laws during their performances.
The Guardian reports:
The office of Russia’s prosecutor general has issued a statement confirming that neither singer obtained an appropriate visa prior to performing there last year. Madonna, who played in August 2012, and Gaga, who appeared in December, travelled under cultural-exchange visas. These documents “do not grant their bearers the right to engage in any commercial activity,” authorities said. According to the Russian legal information agency, prosecutors are now considering asking Russia’s foreign ministry or federal migration service to press charges.
As any foreigner who has visited Moscow will know, Russian immigration can be extremely complicated. But Gaga and Madonna’s mistakes weren’t just discovered by accident: prosecutors launched their investigation only after being contacted by one of the singers’ most outspoken enemies.The man in question was Vitaly Milonov, who serves in St Petersburg’s municipal legislature and authored St Petersburg’s law banning gay “propaganda” – a model for recent legislation passed by the Duma.
Russia: LGBT Activist Nikolai Alexeyev Says Vodka Boycott Won’t Influence Politics
Prominent Russian LGBT activist Nikolai [Alexeyev] has long been the poster child for battling homophobic legislation in Russia. For years, he has personally spearheaded efforts to bring an official LGBT Pride festival to the streets of Moscow, taken his battle to the courts, and has been beaten, bruised, and thrown in jail because of it.
This week, he’s responding to calls for a boycott of Russian vodka, insisting there’s “no point” in boycotting beverages, calling it a “symbolic gesture doomed to failure,” according to Gay Star News.
“To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,” he said. “It will impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever…The producers, even if they become bankrupt because of the boycott (which is unlikely) will not be able to influence Russian politics and President Putin as well as the decisions of the State Duma.”
In place of a boycott, Alekseev said “targeting homophobic lawmakers” is the best course of action. The smartest way to do this, in his opinion, is to pressure other governments to add the authors of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law to visa ban lists, which would effectively lock them inside the country.
“Pressure your governments to put the authors of those laws on the black lists for the entrance visas,” Alekseev added. ”They will suffer and others will think twice. Nothing else will work!”
Yesterday, Stoli CEO Val Mendeleev issued a letter stating the company “has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.” Last night, Stoli’s Facebook page got a super-gay makeover with the revival of their #StoliPride campaign. Currently, company officials are responding to many disgruntled patrons in an open forum in the #StoliPride post’s comments section.
The boycott might not work out as well as we think, but it sure is making a lot of noise. Both things should proceed: the ban of visas and the vodka boycott. Why has to be one or the other?
Russia’s Homophobia, Boycott Of Vodka, Stoli’s CEO Reacts
If you haven’t been paying attention to this whole thing, this is what you need to know: Russia’s adopting and enforcing homophobic laws that has outraged the international community. Many Russian nationals have been arrested and prosecuted under this “anti-gay propaganda law” that President Vladimir Putin is championing across the country. And foreigners have been already been victims of this. Some people even have propose to boycott the Winter Olympics, which will be held on Sochi, Russia next year. This, however, has not taken off with many cause of the nature of the event and what it means to athletes, who could actually voice their opinions in favour of our community in a global platform. The Olympic Committee has voiced its opinion on this, calling for reason and the protection of Human Rights, and has declared that it got the assurance from the Russian Government that athletes and fans who attend to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will not be subjected to such law (we’ll see).
Queer Nation and many other activists, including Dan Savage, have been calling for a boycott on Russian products, specially vodka. Stoli is one of the most commercial and popular Russian products, and it has been the target of many boycotts by some of the biggest and most popular gay clubs and bars in the US, Canada, the UK and Mexico (and still counting). However, there’s been a bit of a controversy surrounding Stoli, given that it has been featured in many endorsements for gay news outlets and event organisers, including Queerty. And Stoli has sent out statements declaring that they 1) are not Russian owned, 2) they do not share the Russian Government’s views on LGBT issues. But Dan Savage is not swallowing: Stoli IS Russian, and owned by one of the most richest men in Russia. And most importantly, they have not yet voiced their opinion directly to Putin and the Kremlin, and until that, in the eyes of us all, no matter how many queer events they sponsor in America and Europe, they’re guilty by omission for the suffering and stigmatisation that LGBT Russians are going through. They owe it to their fellow countrymen.
Dan Savage reports:
The CEO of Stolichnaya Vodka released an open letter to the gay community today—so they’re paying attention, which is good, and they’re scared, which is even better.
For the record: Regardless of where SPI Group’s corporate offices are located, the company is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia. SPI is a Russian corporation, Stoli is a Russian vodka. And while it’s nice that SPI is willing to market to homos who are lucky enough to live in Austria, the US, and South Africa, what has SPI done in Russia? The group has sponsored gay pride events in Vienna and Miami. That’s nice. But have they sponsored gay pride events in Moscow or St. Petersburg? Val says that Stoli is upset and angry. That’s nice. So has Stoli said anything to the Russian authorities? Has Yuri Scheffler expressed his anger in an open letter to Vladimir Putin? Did the SPI Group speak the fuck up before the Russian government passed a law that made it a crime to be openly gay and a crime to publicly support someone who is openly gay? Frankly I’m not interested in Stoli’s marketing efforts in the West. I’m interested in what this Russian-owned company is doing in Russia. And from this letter it’s clear they’ve done and they only plan on doing squat.
Two commenters at JMG cut to the heart of the matter:
I guess the paragraph about how Stoli is going work toward demanding that the Russian Government end discrimination went missing.
Dear Russian Oligarch: You and your friends control your nation via your fortune and connections. Fix this or GTFO.
But this comment at JMG wins the thread:
So is the CEO of Stoli now subject to arrest and incarceration in Russia for writing this pro-gay letter?
And of course, Queer Nation has responded already by saying “Marketing is NOT enough”:
A Statement From Queer Nation; Marketing Is Not Enough
Val Mendeleev, the chief executive officer of SPI Group, the owner of the Stolichnaya brand, confirmed in an open letter on July 25 that SPI produces this vodka in Russia and that SPI has offices and operations in Russia. Stolichnaya is a Russian vodka that is owned by a company that was founded in Russia in 1991.
On the same day that SPI released its open letter to the Advocate, we learned that Russian thugs, emboldened by Russia’s anti-gay law, have taken to gay web sites to lure gay people to supposed encounters where they are viciously beaten. This is just the latest in a series of violent attacks against LGBT Russians and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia.
This violence follows news reports of Russian police and prosecutors targeting LGBT people and groups in Russia for arrests and trials. At least two Russian LGBT groups have gone underground as a result.
In the open letter, Mr. Mendeleev cited a few LGBT events where SPI promoted its Stolichnaya brand as evidence of the company’s support for our community. Mr. Mendeleev, marketing will not save LGBT lives.
A single open letter that was discreetly placed with a single gay publication in the US will not help LGBT Russians nor will it have an impact on the Russian government’s anti-gay campaign. This and your refusal made in an earlier statement to confront the Russian government’s anti-gay bigotry make clear that you are not the fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community you claim to be.
By its own admission, SPI Group operates in Russia and pays taxes to the Russian government. That money funds these continuing attacks on LGBT people and organizations in Russia. Queer Nation will continue its boycott of Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas until this anti-gay law is repealed and the Russian government guarantees the safety of its LGBT citizens and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia.
We will not help you fund the Russian war on LGBT people.
Some, like Scott Shackford, do not agree with the boycott, at least, the one directed to Stoli:
"What’s sad about this effort is that if Russia succeeds in getting its hands back on Stoli, then a boycott actually makes sense. But the consequence will be that a powerful businessman who does support the gay community will lose his company. Boycotting Stoli now is a very bad idea. [Stoli owner Yuri] Scheffler is an ally who the gay and lesbian community needs to work with, not alienate. From a Western perspective it may be hard to realize that an incredibly rich person like Scheffler has the potential to be a victim of Russia’s authoritarian regime like its gay citizens or members of Pussy Riot, but it’s extremely important not to look at the nature of power and influence there the way we do here."
I must remind everybody that the boycott targets all Russian products, and because vodka is a primary export from Russia, it is the object of many. Stoli is specially targeted cause of its status in American and European market and because of its denial of being Russian owned (when actually it is). But the boycott is aimed at ALL Russian brands.
Let’s see where it leads. At least, as Dan says, they are listening.
Russia: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Sees No Need In Regulating Homosexuality
The Moscow New reports:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a press conference Friday that he sees no reason to limit homosexuality by law.
“Not every moral issue, behavioral habit or communication issue between people should be regulated. This is why not all relationships between people are subject to a legal interpretation,” Medvedev said in response to a question on banning homosexuality.
The prime minister said that there was too much fuss about the issue and that in Russia the issue concerns few people.
“Probably this issue does not concern too many people in the country, and it’s not discussed at all levels,” Medvedev said.
At the same time he admitted that State Duma lawmakers have the right to submit any proposals or bills to the parliament.
Medvedev’s statements come at the end of a year that has seen its share of controversy with regard to laws involving homosexuality in Russia.
A law imposing fines for “gay propaganda” took effect in St. Petersburg on March 30.
It has faced heavy criticism from the LGBT community and rights activists in Russia and abroad, but it has also been proposed that it should be made into a federal law. Any citizen who breaks the law in St. Petersburg may be subject to pay a fine for an administrative violation.
Claiming that Madonna violated the law during her St. Petersburg concert over the summer, nine plaintiffs sought upwards of $10 million in compensation for “moral damages.”
During the concert, the star handed out pink bracelets to the crowd in a show of solidarity with the city’s gay and lesbian community.
But the Russian court ruled US pop star Madonna did not break the law on the promotion of homosexual lifestyles among minors during her concert in St. Petersburg earlier this year.
Russia’s lower house may begin talks of a bill stipulating fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,220) for promoting homosexuality among minors on December 19.
And Lady Gaga thanks him, on behalf of all of us.
RUSSIA: Legislature To Consider National Ban On “Propaganda Of Homosexualism”
Next month Russia’s legislature will consider adopting a national ban on “gay propaganda” similar to the ones already existing in St. Petersburg and nine other regions. Via press release from the Russia LGBT Network (their English is slightly fractured):The Russian State Duma will consider the first reading of a federal level bill banning so-called “propaganda of homosexualism” on December 19th, 2012. This information was received from Russian State Duma calendar to address issues in the second ten days of December, which was recently approved by the Duma.Igor Kochetkov, Chairman of Russian LGBT Network: ”Today we would like to address to the deputies of State Duma with a call. Don’t discredit yourselves and Russia by adoption this absolutely senseless ith common sense and the right of law. One year of application of such laws in the regions have shown that, in practice, they are used to persecute dissidents, not to protect the children. Under the pretext of protecting the family the author of the bill actually destroy it, identifying a family as “biological union of a man and a woman.” In reality this “farm” approach to people shows how some deputies look to us, their constituents.”
The Russia LGBT Network has a blog (in Russian.)
RUSSIA: Court Acquits Madonna Of Threatening National Birth Rate By Promoting Homosexuality
The Guardian reports:
It is the country that has sent members of the punk band Pussy Riot to crumbling prison colonies and its richest man to an isolated northern jail. But Russia met its match on Thursday when it attempted to silence the world’s biggest pop star.
Madonna was widely criticised in Russia this summer for voicing support for Pussy Riot during a Moscow concert and speaking out for gay rightsduring a performance in St Petersburg. A senior official called her a “moralising slut” for the former, and nine claimants brought a $10.7m lawsuit against her for the latter.
On Thursday a court St Petersburg ruled against the plaintiffs, members of various conservative groups who argued that Madonna’s comments violated a new law banning the promotion of “homosexual propaganda” to minors and would lead to the destruction of the nation. Violation of the law is punishable by fines of up to 500,000 roubles (£10,000).
During a day-long hearing, the court examined YouTube footage and was shown screenshots of Madonna’s Facebook page as proof that the material girl was crazy for gay rights. “I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights – to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love,” Madonna said during the performance in August, as concert-goers waved gay pride flags and flashed pink wristbands the pop star had handed out as symbols of support.
The claimants argued that Madonna’s performance would adversely affect Russia’s birthrate and therefore its ability to maintain a proper army. They cited posts on the Facebook page condemning the law as proof she had prior knowledge of the potential criminality of expressing herself.
Madonna ignored repeated requests to attend the hearing, held in a tiny courtroom in Russia’s second city. “St Petersburg’s laws were brutally violated,” one of the claimants, Marina Yakovlyeva, told the court, news agencies reported. “In the coming years, this type of violation could become the norm. But we have created a precedent – any artist coming to our city will know now what laws exist.”
Russia has been harshly criticised over the law, which has also been adopted in eight other regions. Some MPs have floated introducing it on a federal level. Adoption of the law in St Petersburg, long seen as Russia’s most westernised city and its cultural capital, has led to a global outcry. All Out, a gay rights group, as called on travellers to boycott St Petersburg. The Canadian government has issued advisories to gay citizens planning to take a holiday there.
The judge in the case, Vitaly Barkovsky, deliberated for more than an hour before delivering his verdict, but appeared to treat the case with scepticism from the start. After one claimant, Vitaly Orlovsky, said Madonna’s concert would prompt the divorce rate to skyrocket, Barkovsky asked him why he was suing no alcoholics, since alcoholism was a well-known cause of divorce in the heavy-drinking country.
Vitaly Milonov, a local MP who has led St Petersburg’s anti-gay campaign, accused Madonna of showing no respect for the court and said the star’s actions answered the question “who’s that girl”. “You can see what kind of person she is – for her, Russia is a cow from whom she can come and get milk – that is, money – and then leave, while not following our laws,” he told the Guardian.
Russia: Madonna To Face Trial In Saint Petersburg For Promoting Gay Rights
A Russian court has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to sue Madonna for promoting gay rights during her ‘MDNA’ tour, according to reports.
In August of this year, it was reported that the singer had enraged some citizens byhanding out pink anti-homophobia wristbands to crowd members during a show in St Petersburg and telling them to “fight for the right to be free”. Her stunt was in response to a new regulation adopted in St Petersburg in March of this year, which saw the city’s yearly gay pride parade banned as it promoted “gay lifestyles” and the “propagation of homosexuality” - both of which have now been outlawed.
A lawsuit was subsequently submitted by members of the Union of Russian Citizens, the People’s Assembly and the New Great Russia party against the singer, with a lawyer for the group claiming that her actions caused “psychological stress and emotional shock” amongst the audience.
Now, according to The Times, a court in St Petersburg has given the go-ahead for the £6.5 million lawsuit to continue as the singer “crossed a line” by handing out the bracelets to “children as young as 12”. Madonna did not attend the hearing and is not expected to be present at future court dates relating to the trial, either.
Madonna courted controversy throughout her tour of Russia. Previously, she used the Moscow-leg of the jaunt to express support for the jailed members of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot. In a speech to the 20,000 strong crowd, Madonna said: “I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom,” before stripping to her bra to reveal the words ‘Pussy Riot’ written on her back. For ‘Like A Virgin’ she donned a balaclava similar to those worn by the band. She was later dubbed a "moralising slut"
Madonna was recently named as the biggest-selling female singles artist in UK chart history. New data from the Official Charts Company showed that she has shifted over 17.8 million singles in the UK since releasing her first track, ‘Holiday’, in 1984.
NEW YORK CITY: Madonna Served Summons To Appear On Gay Propaganda Charges In Russia
Russian anti-gay activists yesterday served a summons at Madonna’s New York City home, demanding that she appear in St. Petersburg for trial on charges that she violated that city’s ban on public utterances of support for LGBT people.Russia Today reports:The pro-Kremlin group Trade Union of Russian Citizens wants the Material Girl in court for blasphemy and for damaging the cultural foundations of St. Petersburg. Nine activists filed a suit against the pop star after her concert on August 9. They are seeking 333 million rubles (around US$10 million) from Madonna and from the company that organized her show. All the fuss is because of Madonna’s actions on the stage. The pop diva started her show asking fans to raise their hands with pink bracelets, which they were given on the entrance, in support of homosexual rights. It is, however, illegal to promote homosexuality in St. Petersburg. The local law, which bans so-called “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and pedophilia to minors,” was passed in March this year. “She insulted believers’ feelings, she promoted homosexuality when there were children at the concert and this is forbidden in St Petersburg. We, the residents of the cultural capital, suffered a colossal moral damage,” union spokesperson Darya Dedova was quoted as saying.
In the event that Madonna is found guilty, much less even appears for trial, an additional 50% of the $10M suit would, by law, be levied in order to further protect St. Petersburg from “homosexuals and pedophiles.”
NOTE: The lawsuit appears to be a civil action from local crackpots and not an official action of the government, although the plaintiffs surely have their support. The above-linked article does not mention if Madonna was home when the summons was served.
VIDEO: Here’s Madonna speech from that show.
Hackers Use Gay Bulgarian Pop Singer Azis To Attack Russian Court Website
Pink News UK reports:
Unidentified hackers attacked the website of the Moscow-based court who sentenced Pussy Riot last week by posting on it a video by Azis, a gay Bulgarian Romani pop singer.
Along with anti-government slogans, the hackers posted a provocative video clip for the song “Мrazish” by Azis on the website of Moscow’s Khamovnichesky District Court, as reported by Russian news agency Interfax.
The platinum-haired Azis, who is of Roma origin, is widely known in his country as the openly gay king of Bulgaria’s popfolk, a genre which has generated much controversy and combines Bulgarian sounds and culture with oriental motifs.
The themes around the genre are generally sex, money and luxury, similar to much contemporary mainstream American hip-hop. The video depicts him sprawled on a bed with men in various states of undress.
It’s by no means clear why the hackers chose the video, as Azis has no direct connection to Pussy Riot, nor is his music punk rock. However, his tendency toward provocative behavior in a conservative society bears some relation to Pussy Riot’s plight.
The original text on the homepage of Moscow’s Khamovnichesky District Court was replaced with slogans calling for freedom for the Pussy Riot women. The titles of the website’s sections were changed to sneering remarks about Russia’s justice system.
In addition, a Pussy Riot song called Putin is Lighting the Fires of the Revolution was uploaded along with a slogan reading “No Logic – Just Hardcore” placed near the Russian coat of arms in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage.
Experts believe the hack was most probably staged by the Anonymous hacktivist group.
The Khamovnichesky District Court sentenced the three members of Pussy Riot to two years each in a prison colony.
Closet Case Ed Koch: Imprisoned Russian Punkers Pussy Riot Are As Bad As ACT UP
Former NYC mayor and closeted homosexual Ed Koch has penned an editorial praising the imprisonment of Pussy Riot, saying the jailed Russian punkers are as bad as ACT UP, who also once demonstrated inside a Catholic cathedral. You may recall that Koch and ACT UP tangled many times during his 80s reign as mayor when he resisted their calls for action. Koch writes:The Western cultural elite is rallying to the defense of the disrupters in the cathedral. Some approve of the verbal attack on Putin. Others support the denunciation of the Russian Orthodox church leadership and the church disruption because of the church leadership support of Putin. All cited characterize the issue as one of free speech. I do not. I would assume that many Pussy Riot supporters would take a different position, and rightly so, if here in the U.S. a black church were invaded and three men or women engaged in comparable conduct insulting holy places within the church and the pastor.
I recall when I was Mayor in 1989 and the AIDS activist group Act Up, unjustifiably angry with John Cardinal O’Connor, invaded St. Patrick’s Cathedral and interrupted the Mass, throwing the Communion wafers – which for Catholics are the actual Body of Christ – to the floor. Some were arrested. So far as I can recall, no one was punished. I think the decision of the Russian court to punish a hate crime was just and to be applauded, rather than condemned and ridiculed. One can argue concerning the degree of punishment, whether fines rather than jail time should have been imposed, but that is a function of the Russian penalty procedures.
Famed activist and ACT UP founder Larry Kramer once wrote of encountering Koch while Kramer was walking his dog. As the then mayor leaned over to pet the dog, Kramer said, “That’s the man who killed all of Daddy’s friends.”
RELATED: Another well-known AIDS activist tips me today that when the Independent Film Channel yesterday invited Koch to a Manhattan screening of the AIDS documentary,How To Survive A Plague, Koch abruptly unsubscribed to the IFC mailing list, to which he’d belonged for years.