Any remaining argument as to whether Russia was a modern, developed country went out the window today as a leading Russian TV star, Ivan Okhlobystin, called for the country’s several-million-strong gay and lesbian population to be thrown into ovens and burned alive.
“I’d put them all alive in the oven,” Okhlobystin said during a meet-and-greet with his fans last Sunday. “It’s a living danger to my children.”
Okhlobystin also demanded during the chat that “f*ggots” be stripped of their right to vote. Though burning gays like Jews would pretty much obviate their vote anyway.
Okhlobystin is one of the stars of the hit Russian show “Interns,” a rip-off of the TV show “Scrubs.” ”Interns” was rated Russia’s best TV show in 2012. There was no indication from the Russian media that Okhlobystin faced any punishment from his employer.
In America, or western Europe, your TV career would be over if you publicly endorsed the Holocaust. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it’s just another day at the Kremlin, and might even get you a promotion.
Speaking of which, and equally fascinating, if you could call it that, was the coverage of this story in RIA Novosti, the lead Russian state media entity that’s being closed down by Putin, and replaced with a propaganda network run by a man who called for gays’ hearts to be burned.
RIA Novosti has a reputation for conducting actual objective journalism, and you can’t have that in an underdeveloped dictatorship.
But RIA Novosti outdid itself on this story. After discussing what Okhlobystin said, RIA Novosti then concluded with the following three paragraphs that were simply remarkable, considering the danger to your career, and your person, in speaking out in Russia:
Anti-gay sentiment is on the rise in Russia. Rights activists say legislation approved last year to ban the promotion of homosexuality among minors has fueled a climate of intolerance toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Prominent television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, who was this week appointed by the Kremlin to head a news agency that is set to replace RIA Novosti, called in 2012 to “burn or bury the hearts of gays” that die in car crashes.
He did stop short of promoting actually burning gay people alive, as Okhlobystin has done, however.
Wow. It’s pretty clear that the folks at RIA Novosti are not pleased about Putin shutting down their news agency, nor are they thrilled at who’s taking over. That was one heck of a swipe to take at a news entity created by, and for, Vladimir Putin. And, RIA Novosti acknowledged the growing anti-gay climate in Russia, and referenced activists’ concerns that the draconian new anti-gay propaganda law if fueling the hate. That kind of thing just isn’t done.
What a sad, backwards, messed up country. Any notion that Russia was part of the civilized world, just two months before the country hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, just got burnt to a crisp.