Russians charge 24 y.o. under anti-gay propaganda law

Russia’s new anti-gay “propaganda” law has found a new victim: 24 year old Dmitry Isakov.

On July 30, Isakov staged a one-man protest in the center of the town of Kazan, Russia, holding a sign reading, “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!”

The news came out of Russia yesterday that a Russian teen allegedly told his mother that he’d seen images of Isakov’s protest online, and prosecutors are now using that as the basis to charge Isakov.

The Russian authorities have now confirmed activists’ worst fears that any “gay propaganda” by Olympic athletes, guests and media at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia that is broadcast on the Internet will be cause for the arrest and persecution of Olympic attendees.

Russian LGBT leader Masha Gessen, who is working with a coalition of nearly three dozen Russian activists, under the rubric of RUSA LGBT, to fight Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Russian LGBT leader Masha Gessen, who is working with a coalition of nearly three dozen Russian activists, under the rubric of RUSA LGBT, to fight Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Adding to the concern, under the overly-vague law simply being benignly openly gay, holding your husband’s hand in public, hugging your spouse after a gold medal victory, or simply being identified in public with your same-sex spouse could be considered illegal “propaganda” under the new law.

If any of that is broadcast anywhere on the Internet, you will be a criminal under a Russian law that the Interior Ministry and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko have both repeatedly confirmed will be applied to Olympic athletes.

Ironically, not 24 hours before Isakov was charged, embattled Russian gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev gave a Kremlin propaganda network the encouraging news that Russia’s anti-gay law would not be applied in practice:

NIKOLAI ALEXEYEV: “Let’s just make it clear, one thing. Is that there is a law that has legal implications, and there is a law that has social implications.  And this is absolutely different stuff.  Legal implications: I can tell you this law is not applied in practice. The regional laws, which are absolutely similar to the federal one, are not applied in practice.”

Not more than twenty-four hours later, Isakov was charged under the discriminatory law.

Alexeyev, dogged for years by accusations of anti-Semitism, has been facing mounting questions about his future as a credible voice on human rights. A situation only made worse last week by Alexeyev’s claim on Facebook and Twitter that Jewish vodka is made from sperm, and his retweet of a vile comment that LGBT publication OUT magazine is a “jewish slut magazine that supports jews and their filthy faggotry propaganda.”

Alexeyev has refused to apologize for, or even acknowledge, the deplorable comments.  (Alexeyev is also, oddly, now claiming that the Facebook and Twitter accounts in his name may be fakes created by people impersonating him, while at the same time those accounts just issued a new call for money donations, which means such donations may be going to an impersonator, or worse, the Russian government .)

Alexeyev’s now-open embrace of anti-Semitic hate has not, however, stopped international “human rights” group Human Rights First from continuing to embrace and promote him, including a Human Rights First public conference call that Alexeyev is keynoting this week. (News of Alexeyev’s involvement in the call came immediately following last week’s anti-Semitic outburst.)

No word from Human Rights First on whether Jewish sperm vodka is on the agenda.

Regardless, it is now clear that the Russian authorities will, and have, applied the anti-gay propaganda law “in practice,” and that once again the concerns of nearly-three dozen Russian LGBT activists about this law, and about the need for a concerted international response, have been confirmed.

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. .

Share This Post

  • Bomer

    If you consider them Sowers of Discord then, yes. =)

    8th circle break down:
    Panderers and Seducers
    False Counselors
    Sowers of Discord

  • Turtaan

    We don’t tolerate laws broken in the west: Why should Russians tolerate the breaking of their laws?

  • You seem to not understand that most people in the world side with Russia and against Anglo-America on this topic.

  • Probably a full palette of Tammy Faye.

  • catherine751

    My Uncle Riley got an almost new red Audi S3 by working parttime from a computer… this article w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • Rob Dowdy

    I was still a Republican at that point

    One too many episodes of Family Ties, huh?

  • Indigo

    What colour is your war paint?

  • Indigo

    Nice to know. Do you suppose the cyber-trolls land in that realm too? ;-)

  • Bob Jones

    I admire his bravery and I have to admit that I am thankful for his actions, but I have to wonder if his decision was the wisest. Did he have any sort of resources to connect with any other members of the lgbt community in Russia? If he did, I wonder if he could have collaborated with them towards some sort of more effective set of actions. Reality is complicated and I have no idea whether his actions will send forth ripples that contribute to a greater number of actions that lead to tolerance or if his actions did more harm than good by serving more to reinforce stereotypes than create the seeds of doubt in cultural norms required for tolerance to take root.

    I just hope he gets out of this okay and he keeps trying. Again, I have no idea what the best course of actions of lgbt Russians would be to further the cause of tolerance, but my best guess would be to help some sort of online community that are really the only sort of resource of lgbt Russian teens have now because of the law (which would be useful as Russian isn’t exactly the world’s most effective language) instead of a one-man protest that may seem to be expressions of individualism and other “selfish” values from the “liberal Western world” that may not have much of an impact.

    This has gotten me thinking. What do you guys think is the best course of actions for the lgbt community both in Russia and outside of it for the short-term and long term? I probably won’t reply but I’d love to read your ideas.

  • lynchie

    so much for protecting our national security or was that corporate interests….not sure.

  • Bomer

    And the 8th is split into multiple levels and if I remember right the hypocrites are near the bottom of it.

  • jomicur

    Pointing out that the administration is planning to start a war over an alleged human rights abuse (about which the evidence is ambiguous at best) while blithely ignoring another (which is happening beyond all doubt) one seems fairly pertinent to me.

  • jomicur

    “If there is one thing Amurika knows is bombs.”

    Isn’t it funny, though, how we never bomb countries that have the capacity to bomb back? I guess that’s another moral imperative.

  • Anonymous

    I agree (and by the way he is back at it with the remarks *again*). I also wonder if they have enough resources for the mentally ill in Russia. He obviously has a disorder

  • Lynchie is a long time commenter here, thank you.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    You don’t say! How could we ever figure these things out without your instructional assistance?

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Sorry you didn’t care for it.

    So far, all I’ve seen you do is police other people’s comments like a school marm. Are you capable of substantive discussion, or do you just take names?

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Really? Lynchie is perfectly capable of identifying any military action that was acceptable. So far–see below–we’ve found not one. So what was stupid, pal, was your comment.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    So you wanted intervention sooner? I don’t think so. Yeah, lots of people have already died in their civil war–by means of conventional warfare. Using weapons of mass destruction implicates international norms, as does the genocide connected with their use.

    Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you wanted me to take you seriously and respond to your demand to talk about civilian beneficiaries of past military actions. I guess you have nothing useful to say about that. How about those million Rwandans that your view allowed to die in a genocide? Would we be better off if Bosnian genocide had gone on for another five years? How self-centered are you?

  • FLL

    He was always flawed, but there was a time during the late 2000s when he was just about the only publicly known proponent of gay rights in Russia. His contribution was to constitutional law, and in 2010, he actually won the very first case for Russia’s gay rights movement at the European Court of Human Rights. The Court ruled that Russia’s ban on the Moscow Pride parades violated the European Convention, a treaty that Russia is a party to. Alexeyev is no longer a credible voice for LGBT activism. History moves on.

  • lynchie

    106,000 so far in Syria and we have done nothing till now.

  • I think we all know “can’t find” actually means “don’t want to find.”

  • Works for me.

  • Oh I hear what you’re saying. I was just trying to keep this in the realm of what would most likely actually happen to you, given your outspoken positions on this issue.

    Of course right now, I’d imagine if you applied for a Russian entry visa, they’d turn you right down. Or, if granted, would arrest and deport you as soon as you arrived at the airport arrivals lounge. Or arrest and deport you as soon as someone over there realized who you were.

    If, on the other hand, you were Russian and you posted anything like the posts you’ve been putting up here… Yeah.

  • Bingo.

  • Only subject to arrest? As an Argentine women, who had had friends abducted and killed by the military junta only a few years before, told me over lunch in Buenos Aires all the way back in 1988, during a particularly passionate political discussion we were having about the military junta that had ruled the country a few years before, “they’d have killed you if you were Argentine.” Meaning my passion about politics, and my views, were enough to get you killed during the junta (and mind you, I was still a Republican at that point, and my views on human rights were STILL too radical for the junta).

  • This blog’s proprietor, John Aravosis, would be subject to arrest in Russia, right now, because he has posted repeatedly pro-gay “propaganda” (by their definition of the word), criticized the Russian pogrom-enabling law publicly — and AmericaBlog can be seen by minors.

    For Alexeyev to suggest the Russian law wouldn’t be implemented “in practice” is a gross disservice to the cause and endangers the lives and well-being of anybody who listens to him.

    I know, folks, that for many of you, you’d rather time not be spent on this mendacious mentally-unstable jerk. But until Alexeyev is no longer in a position to do harm through his dangerously erratic behavior and periodic bigot-eruptions, it needs to be publicized.

  • Whether or not he or she was trying to do so, the thread has in fact been jacked.

  • you just sound like a pacifist ideologue who wouldn’t even have intervened to stop the Holocaust

    Cheap shot. Sorry.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Doubtful, but its still another pressure point. We’re not going to win this quickly.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    I think it may be time to thank Nikolai Aleksaev for his service and just start promoting other Russian leaders. He appears to be deeply flawed, but we shouldn’t forget this years of courageous activism. His increasingly bizarre statements and contradictory statements really don’t seem to be productive in a campaign on a world stage.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Uh, after the IOC’s stunt, I’m not heartened by organizations seeking “clarification” from Russia. Maybe FIFA will be better.

  • Tom in Lazybrook
    FIFA head Sepp Blatter is still awaiting clarification from Russia regarding its’ anti-Gay laws. He should also demand an answer to Russia’s persecution of its LGBT Gay citizens for the “crime” of holding a sign in public while at the same time, refusing to prosecute and jail those openly kidnapping, torturing, and even murdering Gay kids.

  • Just an elbow

    I’m sorry, but that was just plain stupid.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Wow. Really? That’s a great point.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Which civilians and which war? I was in the streets opposing the Iraq invasion before it even happened, so I sure as hell won’t defend that one.

    I think quite a few Afghan women and girls actually like having some some personal freedom and education without Taliban acid thrown in their faces, don’t you? It’s too bad Bush hopelessly bungled that one. There are also 750,000 residents of Benghazi who weren’t slaughtered in a threatened genocide. I think the people of Kosovo like being free from oppression by Serbia, and the survivors of genocide in Bosnia are happy someone finally intervened to stop it.

    Meanwhile, there are a million dead Rwandans whom no one helped, and the same goes for Darfur.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Totally agree with you. Move past this narcissistic asshole.

  • StraightGrandmother

    That is fucking lame.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I think you are just trying to hijack the thread.
    No thank you.

  • lynchie

    Then why did the U.S. give saddam chemical weapons to use against Iran and veto condemning him for his actions in the U.N. There is no international community enforcing shit. It is U.S. policy to bomb Libya ($1.1 billion cost) invade Iraq, invade Afghanistan and that changed what?

  • lynchie

    Well there was 100,000 already dead before the supposed gassing and he did nothing. The international community is not doing this the U.S. is. Please take a moment and look at the history since Vietnam and tell me one foreign intervention that worked out for the civilians in the country we invaded. Obama the peace nik I think not.

  • UncleBucky

    Sochi will go on, but it will be the most hated games since the 1936 games in Germany.

    Anyone see this?

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Thank God you weren’t in charge of foreign policy in 1941.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Imperialist ambitions. Oh, for fuck sake. You’re so far out on the loony left, you can’t even see the center. Obama pretty obviously loathes the idea of having to do this. But there’s this little inconvenient fact of Assad having used chemical weapons to slaughter 1,400 people in about an hour. At what point should the international community intervene? 10,000? 100,000? 1 million? 6 million? So much for never again.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I support action by the international community to enforce the world’s repudiation of chemical weapons and genocide. No, you just sound like a pacifist ideologue who wouldn’t even have intervened to stop the Holocaust.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Sorry, but why are we still talking about that little anti-Semitic bigot, Alexeyev? I no longer regard him as part of the gay community, and I would strongly recommend that everyone else similarly shun him as a pariah. There is ZERO room in our movement for anti-Semitism. Period.

  • Bomer

    Comes from going to a Catholic University and reading that book waaaay too many times in multiple classes. ;)

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    I think FIFA should be called to comment on this as Kazan is one of the sites of the 2018 World Cup.

  • Indigo

    Wow! You’re good. Thanks! Since there’s only nine circles, landing in the eighth one is pretty bad, worse than I suspected.

  • They have videos of the guys and the towns they live in, but they still apparently can’t find them.

  • Bomer

    They would be in the 8th Circle (Fraud).

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    The prosecutors have time to arrest and charge Isakov, but where are the arrests and charges of those shown on videotape kidnapping, torturing, and possibly murdering Gay teens?

  • Indigo

    What saddens me is the vast indifference of the population while the Secretary of State rambles on about moral obligations, as if morality was an appropriate veil for imperialist ambition. I need to dig out my Dante and see for which circle of Hell that hypocrisy qualifies him.

  • lynchie

    Bombing is the only thing America knows. We don’t know squat about diplomacy or getting two sides to a table and calmly negotiate a peace good for both sides. We make the best bombs (more dead per ton), we have the most bombs (god fearing bomb manufacturers making bombs day and night to protect Amurika), we drop the most bombs (in Iraq ” Since the beginning of the war, the press release said, the 3rd
    Marine Aircraft Wing alone had dropped more than five hundred thousand
    tons of ordnance.)×2312501

    If there is one thing Amurika knows is bombs.

  • Indigo

    But according to the Presi-diletante, our national priority is human rights in Syria where he wants to bomb, bomb, bomb. Bombing is a moral imperative when human rights are the issue, according to the Secretary of State, moral paragon Kerry.

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