Must-see: Russian journalist/lesbian activist Masha Gessen on Chris Hayes’ show (video)

Russian journalist and lesbian activist Masha Gessen, who wrote a critically-acclaimed biography of Russian President Vladimir Putin (“The Man Without a Face: The unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin”), appeared on Chris Hayes’ show on MSNBC last night.

Masha did an amazing job explaining the current situation in Russia, how the international community can help LGBT Russians, and why the current campaign against Russian vodka and the Olympics matters.


During the broadcast, Masha told Chris that over the past few decades the trajectory in Russia was moving in the direction of LGBT progress. But then in the last year and a half it’s been moving backwards in terms of both homophobia and violence.

Masha talked about her decision to leave Russia, in order to protect her children, now that Russia is talking about potentially removing children from same-sex families.  She will move to NYC.

Masha goes on to say that the reason Russia was able to move so quickly in the direction of homophobia is because no one was watching, the world didn’t pay attention.  Russia figured it could scapegoat gays and get away with it.  And it’s been a big surprise to the Russian authorities that we’ve fought back, and “it’s making them squirm,” she says.

“They’ve really squirmed,” Masha says, about Russia’s position on the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia next February. The Olympics are a big deal for Putin, Masha says, he personally lobbied for them, they’re his big international moment.  He wants the Olympics to go off without a hitch.

Masha adds: “As long as the pressure is on, it’s not going to make them reconsider those laws. But it will possibly make them dial back the campaign of hate, and it can prevent the passage of further laws, including the law on removing children from same-sex families.”

The video is about 9 minutes and moves quickly.  Masha did an amazing job, as did Chris (thank you, Chris).  Do watch it, it goes by quickly.

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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