Grave concerns about well-being of Russian gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev

I’ve been avoiding this story for two weeks now, but it’s no longer possible to.  Something very scary is going on with lead Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev (also spelled Alekseyev and Alekseev), who either has been extorted by the Russian government, or has seemingly gone off his rocker.

A series of bizarre tweets and Facebook posts began two weeks ago – including one Facebook post entitled “Kidnapped,” alongside three photos of a man, apparently Alexeyev, in his undewear and then naked – culminating in Alexeyev, or someone in his name, posting a death threat on his Twitter account last night, and then today posting two incredibly anti-Semitic tweets, calling OUT magazine a “jewish slut magazine,” and the editor of gay porn mogul Michael Lucas’ recent article critical of Alexeyex a “jewish pig, israeli monkey.”  Alexeyev then went on to use the word “kike” repeatedly in Russian and English.

The story continues to grow more bizarre by the hour.  Since the publication of this story, Alexeyev posted additional anti-Semitic comments, and now is trying to claim that his threat to quit LGBT advocacy was simply a “social experiment.”  But the threat to quit came two days ago, while his erratic online behavior began two weeks ago.  Also the supposed “social experiment” surrounding his threat to quit does not explain the repeated anti-Semitic posts, the death threat he posted on Twitter, his publicly naming two western gay activists as supposed pedophiles, and now a new anti-Semitic Facebook post and several tweets on Friday referring to Jewish vodka made from sperm:

alexeyev-twitter-jewish alexeyev-facebook-jewish

Here are a few twitter comments authored by someone else, and retweeted by Alexeyev’s Twitter account, today:


This wouldn’t be Alexeyev’s first run-in with anti-Semitism (which either reinforces that he is actually a bigot, or it’s a cute trick by the Russian authorities to play off of Alexeyev’s earlier problems with this issue).

Then last night, there was this bizarre death threat against Lucas, in response to a piece highly-critical of Alexeyev that Lucas published in OUT magazine yesterday:


In a longer series of odd tweets, Alexeyev went on to say that he was quitting the gay rights battle entirely as a result of the single op ed.  It was all a bit surreal.

In my opinion, either:

1. The Russian government has threatened Alexeyev personally, or threatened his mother, and thus Alexeyev is either authoring (or the Russian government is authoring in his name) horrific tweets and Facebook posts to undermine his, and overall LGBT, credibility; or

2. Alexeyev is no longer a credible voice on any progressive issue, let alone LGBT rights.

I was worrying for the past few weeks that this was simply Alexeyev being Alexeyev.  Some people who know him say that he can be a bit emotional, to put it nicely.  But the last two weeks have been downright unhinged.  I think there’s now a serious question as to whether he’s being coerced, or whether the government is even faking these comments in his name.  And if he’s not being coerced, someone with an amazing record of LGBT activism is now finished.

First, a quick word about Lucas, who wrote the critical op ed.  I wasn’t familiar with the man, but he’s apparently a Russian Jew who emigrated to the states and made a killing in the porn business.  It’s worth noting that Lucas has had his own run-in with intolerance, vis-a-vis Muslims, and is considered controversial in his own right.

nikolai-alexeyevHaving said that, Lucas’ op ed in OUT does an accurate job of detailing the incidents of “Alexeyev’s” bizarre behavior these past two weeks, and is worth a read for getting the full background on it (the info he cites – the tweets, Facebook posts, and more – are easily confirmed via the other links I’ve posted in this story).

In addition to the tweets and Facebook posts, a horrific op ed appeared this week in the Kremlin propaganda rag Russia Today in which “Alexeyev” suggested that the Russian anti-gay “propaganda” law was no big deal because it won’t be implemented much anyway, and that gay Russians seeking asylum in the US were fakes and liars who didn’t deserve asylum because most gays don’t face serious persecution in Russia and/or they’re straight people pretending to be gay.  A similar claim was posted on Alexeyev’s Facebook page:


There was also a post on his Facebook page alleging that two American friends of his, who I believe are gay activists, were both pedophiles.


Judging by a subsequent post on Alexeyev’s Twitter account, it appears that this unsubstantiated allegation of pedophilia may be what got his Facebook page deleted:


I think you now get the flavor of the past two weeks.

All of this culminated in yesterday’s Lucas op ed in OUT, and “Alexeyev’s” bizarre responses on Twitter in which he, or someone in his name, declared that because of the one critical op ed he was quitting the gay rights battle entirely.  The tweets went downhill from there.  Here are a number of them, in order (read from the bottom up):




What’s even weirder is that the Twitter account then tweeted a few tweets wondering if the account had been hacked, which would be a strange thing to post if you were a hacker, but it’s also a bizarre thing to tweet and then not respond to if it’s really you:



One final point – Alexeyev did appear in a Reuters video on Tuesday about the Russian authorities searching his apartment.  So he was clearly alive at that point.  The video does not, however, give any indication as to the veracity of the rest of these ongoing comments and posts.  All it really tells us is that he’s alive, and did not appear to be beaten up.

As I said, I was going to leave this alone because I honestly thought he’d lost his mind, and it’s not worth getting into these kind of issues, particularly when it could undercut the important work ahead on Russian LGBT rights.  But now I’m not so sure.  The behavior is simply too erratic to be ignored.  I think there’s a real chance that he’s been threatened, or worse, the life of his mother has been threatened, by the Russian government.  Either that, or Russia’s top LGBT advocate seems to have lost his mind, and is no longer a credible representative of the LGBT community anywhere.

I don’t know which is true, but the issue has come to a head and needs to be aired publicly.  So now it has been.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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