President Obama is at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will be meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), basically what we Americans would call “non-profits,” including representatives from gay rights organizations.
President Obama’s meeting with LGBT groups is only the latest evidence of how far the world has come since a little over a month ago, when very few people were paying attention to the dire situation in Russia for gay and trans people. Not only is the President now meeting with gay Russians, but his invitation has prompted Russian president Vladimir Putin to speak out about the Russian law, and to “consider” meeting with gay representatives as well.
Now for a quick morning news round-up:
The BBC is covering the Russian vigilante groups that kidnap gay and trans people (video below), and then beat and torture them, all with a wink and a nod from the Russian authorities. The Russians did nothing to stop these groups, even after the groups videotaped their assaults (with their faces and hometowns included), and then posted them online. Only after an international uproar the past month did the Russians claim they were investigating, but not surprisingly, there appears to have been no progress in the “investigation.”
A number of Russian activists protested along St. Petersburg’s main thoroughfare, including Natalya Tsymbalova, who organized the wonderful “From Russia with Love” event that I wrote about Wednesday.
Another Swedish hockey player speaks out against Russia’s anti-gay law.
American religious right bigot Linda Harvey asks her listeners to pray for Russia’s anti-gay law, for the children of course.
Religious right bigots now think they’re “human rights groups.” Uh, yeah, kind of the opposite.
Irish foreign minister Eamon Gilmore criticizes Russia’s anti-gay law.
More reportage on the fall from grace of Russia’s once- gay advocate Nikolai Alexeyev. Alexeyev had once done great work on LGBT rights. Now, his word can’t be trusted as it’s no longer clear who he’s speaking for.
In recent weeks, Alexeyev had a huge anti-Semitic meltdown, calling Jews “kikes” and rambling on about a “jewish mafia” trying to take over the world, in addition to some bizarre observations about “jewish vodka” distilled from “sperm.” (His anti-semitic ramblings went far beyond those examples.) At the same time, Alexeyev has recently made repeated statements undermining other gay activists and undermining international concern about Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, leading Spain’s El Pais newspaper to now dub him “the activist who defends Putin.”
For example, last Saturday night, on a Kremlin propaganda TV network, Alexeyev claimed that Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law would not actually be applied against anyone. The next day, the law was applied against a 24 year old Russian. Thus, understandably, when Alexeyev yesterday said that no one should worry about the Russian parliament’s work on a new law to take children away from gay parents since, Alexeyev claims, the law will never pass, some of us wondered if that didn’t really mean that the law would in fact pass. And today Alexeyev is in the Russian press defending Russian pole vaulter, and anti-gay bigot, Elena Isinbayeva, who had earlier claimed that Gay Olympians were not “normal.”
Call it the “Alexeyev Rule” – whatever he says now, believe the opposite.
Some worry that Alexeyev may have been coopted by the Kremlin (either by choice, or through coercion), others worry that he’s perhaps been drugged by Kremlin operatives (a technique favored in the past by the KGB, which would send dissidents to psychiatric hospitals and then give them debilitating drugs), while others conjecture that perhaps he’s suffering some sort of breakdown, or is simply an egomaniac who is upset that the gay cause in Russia has finally outgrown him.
Yesterday, two gay rights advocates claimed that they’ve known Alexeyev for years, and he’s definitely not an anti-Semite, which is an interesting thing to claim about someone who believes Jews are “yids” and “kikes” who make vodka from their own sperm. If that isn’t anti-semitic, then is anything? Having said that, it is possible that Alexeyev is not an anti-semite if his anti-semitic rantings, and recent pro-Kremlin spin, are the result of being coopted by the Russian authorities – for example, if they threatened to kill his mother if he didn’t do their bidding.
But whatever the cause - and whether you pity him or loathe him - Nikolai Alexeyev, once a proud LGBT rights advocate, has sadly proven that his word can no longer be trusted, and should be ignored.