Zoom vs. Zoom (Rospotrebnadzor vs. Side by Side)

Peter Gutnitsky
Facebook
November 16, 2020

In a nutshell.

Zoom Cafe has been shut down because the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival announced an online event on Zoom. And it is so easy to confuse us with an online platform.

Fake diners without [anti-covid] masks hired for 500 rubles, a deliberately false statement from the well-known [anti-gay] activist Timur Bulatov, ten police officers blocking the entrance, violations like “Where is the germicidal lamp? Here it is! And where does it say that it is a germicidal lamp?”, a plainclothes officer who refused to introduce himself, a printer that they brought with them to quickly print out the order and seal the front door. That’s all.

We look forward to the court hearing.

Screenshot of Zoom Cafe’s page on restoclub.ru

Rospotrebnadzor Closes Zoom Cafe After Receiving Complaint That Side by Side LGBT Festival Was Taking Place There. But It Was Taking Place on Zoom
Bumaga
November 16, 2020

Rospotrebnadzor has temporarily closed Zoom Cafe on Gorokhovaya Street in Petersburg due to non-compliance with social distance and other violations of the coronavirus regime, as reported by Fontanka.ru, citing the agency’s closure order.

The cafe was inspected by authorities following a complaint by anti-gay activist Timur Bulatov, cafe owner Pavel Shteynlukht told Bumaga. In his complaint, Bulatov wrote that Zoom Cafe was hosting the LGBT film festival, which minors could allegedly attend. (Bumaga has a copy of the complaint.)

Side by Side’s press service told Bumaga that they had discussed an information partnership with Zoom Cafe, but they had not been able to come to an agreement. The cafe was not a venue for the festival, which was moved online after its opening event was disrupted by police officers.

“Unfortunately, Zoom Cafe has suffered simply because the people who make complaints about us cannot tell the difference between discussions on the platform Zoom and the Zoom Cafe,” the festival’s press service said.

Earlier this month, Bumaga spoke with Side by Side founders Manny de Guerre and Gulya Sultanova, who talked about how the LGBT film festival came into being, how the law on so-called gay propaganda has affected it, and why the project had to be closed in Russia’s regions.

Translated by the Russian Reader

 

Before the opening of the 13th Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Rospotrebnadzor officers accompanied by police came to the building where the event was to be held. They demanded that everyone leave the premises so they could “check for possible violations of the law.” The organizers claim that they had met all the sanitary and epidemiological requirements imposed by the authorities. A few days before the start of the festival, the police had already inspected the venue following a complaint by Russian MP Vitaly Milonov.

Source: Radio Svoboda, 12 November 2020

“He Fell on the Knife”: Moscow Jury Acquits Man Who Confessed to Involuntary Manslaughter of Gay

Moscow Jury Acquits Man Who Confessed to Involuntary Manslaughter of Gay Man
Takie Dela
February 7, 2020

A jury at Moscow’s Basmanny District Court acquitted a man accused of murdering homosexual Roman Yedalov, reports the LGBT group Stimul, whose lawyers represented the interests of the victim’s friend and mother in court. The website xgay.ru reports that the assailant’s name is Anton Berezhnoy.

The defendant admitted his guilt in part. He claimed, however, that he had not caused the death deliberately but accidentally: the victim had allegedly “[fallen] on the knife.” On February 6, when asked the question of whether Berezhnoy had caused Yedalov’s death or not, the jury said he had not, thus obviating the following question as to his guilt.

A final verdict will be handed down by the presiding judge in a few days but, according to law, the verdict cannot be a guilty one for the defendant. Stimul’s lawyers have already said they would appeal the court’s decision.

“The evidence and testimony presented in the trial convinced me that the altercation was provoked by the defendant,” said Anton Lapov, a lawyer for the injured party. “I’m convinced that it was this bloody outcome that the defendant envisaged. One person had their life taken, while another person was robbed of their health.”

The murder occurred in the early hours of June 29, 2019, at Kursk Railway Station in Moscow. Berezhnoy assaulted gay couple Roman Yedalov and Yevgeny Yefimov, who were returning to their home in the Moscow Region, and struck them with a knife.

The murder was captured on CCTV. Courtesy of Takie Dela

Yefimov’s wounds were not life-threatening and he survived, but Yedalov died on the spot. According to Yefimov, Berezhnoy shouted insults relating to their sexual orientation during the attack. Yefimov suspects that Berezhnoy followed them from a night club.

The Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation into the murder. Yefimov and the dead man’s mother were named as the injured party, while Berezhnoy was remanded in custody. During the trial, the prosecutor argued that the available evidence proved the defendant’s guilt. Yedalov’s mother told the court that she was proud of her son for defending his friend by stepping between him and the assailant.

In November 2019, Maxim Pankratov, the star of a video on the YouTube channel Real Talk in which children asked him questions about homosexuality, reported that he had been threatened. People on the street recognized him and shouted “Faggot! Pervert” as he walked past. Another group of strangers attempted to attack him at night, but he managed to escape. Pankratov underscored the fact that he had not talked with the children about sex and had not committed violent acts against them.

After the video starring Pankratov was posted, the Moscow police charged the channel’s creators with “promoting homosexualism [sic] among minors,” while the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case into sexual violence against minors. Investigators claimed that the conversations with children were designed to arouse them sexually and induce them to have sexual relations. The video was deleted after the scandal erupted.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Queerfest of Russia: A Battleground

The Russian LGBT festival QueerFest, traditionally a space for celebration, this year resembles a battleground, with each day a fight for survival. 

September 18, the QueerFest opening ceremony. Two hours before the event, the main venue calls to cancel. The reason: “compromised integrity of the arch over the entrance, which may result in its collapse.” At the same time, all other events continue.

The new venue is attacked by 20 “[Russian O]rthodox activists” accompanied by [Petersburg legislative assembly] Vitaly Milonov, who insult guests and spray them with a green liquid and an unknown gaseous substance. (video)

24 complaints were filed with the police, including one from a St. Petersburg human rights ombudsman’s office staff member.

September 19. The venue Etagi, well known for its social projects in St. Petersburg, cancels QueerFest’s events, including an event by the Manifesta 10 biennale, which is taking place in St. Petersburg this year. Organizers learn that Etagi received a phone call from the police. Another venue, planned for the next day’s event, cancels the same evening.

September 20. The planned “Night of Independent Music,” already having moved to a different venue, starts as planned, but midway through receives a fake bomb threat.

September 24. The police attempt to shut down a press conference entitled “Who is Shutting Down QueerFest?” There is now concrete proof that it is not the extremists that are scaring the venues but the police. The Regional Press Institute, which is hosting the press conference, is pressured by a police lieutenant colonel and a major to cancel the event under the pretext that “violations of public order may ensue.” RPI becomes the first and only venue that stands up to the pressure, exposing it to the media and the public.

At this point, the organizers no longer openly publish festival venues, instead inviting the wider public to view the event through the online feed. Hundreds of people view the events each day.

In the six years of organizing the festival, there has never been such a consistent and organized attack on our freedom of assembly and expression. Instead of ensuring public order by providing protections, the police use it as a pretext to shut down events. Instead of bringing the perpetrators to justice, the authorities look the other way,” says Polina Andrianova, one of the festival organizers. “Every means is used to push us into the ‘ghetto.’ Yet, the festival is about dialogue and being open in society, and our best defense right now is to stay visible.”

QueerFest’s organizers ask partners to publicize what is happening and take a firm stand against the unlawful actions used to foil the festival with the acquiescence of the authorities.

QueerFest’s organizers urge the St. Petersburg authorities to:

1. Ensure that the attacks at the festival’s opening are properly investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice;
2. Ensure that the festival’s events can proceed with sufficient police protection.

The festival’s program can be found here. Follow the festival’s events online, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Editor’s Note. The above press release was slightly edited for republication on this blog.

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Queerfest Opening Quashed by Attackers
Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
September 24, 2014

Queerfest — an annual LGBT rights socio-cultural festival that opened in St. Petersburg on Sept. 18 — was forced to cancel most of its events following attacks, pressure from authorities, bomb threats and last-minute cancellations. A group led by anti-gay lawmaker Vitaly Milonov tried to get into the venue where the invitation-only opening event was held. After not being let in, the anti-gay protesters blocked the entrances and attacked the audience with an unknown gas and green dye, with the police not immediately intervening.

The festival’s opening event was moved to Ziferburg cafe on Nevsky Prospekt after the Kazanskaya 7 business center — where Queerfest’s scheduled main venue, the art space Freedom, is located — canceled the opening 90 minutes before its announced time. A representative of the owner annulled the rent agreement due to a “suspicion of damage to the integrity of the arch above the main staircase of the building,” which did not prevent other events from being held in there, Queerfest organizers said in a statement on Sept. 19.

The event started with a nearly one-hour delay at Ziferburg cafe after the Queerfest exhibition of photographs was hastily moved and assembled there. About 200 people, including foreign diplomats, were gathered when Milonov and between 15 to 20 anti-gay attackers tried to stop the opening.

Milonov, a United Russia deputy in the city’s Legislative Assembly and chairman of the committee on legislation responsible for the city’s 2012 law forbidding the “promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bi-sexuality and transgenderness amongst minors,” led an anti-gay group to the cafe, located on the third floor of the Passage shopping center.

Showing his deputy identification, Milonov tried to get in but was stopped by security guards. He ended up instead standing near the door, swearing and throwing insults while telling the guards that ethnic Russians should not protect LGBT people. He described the audience as “pedophiles who rape children,” among other things. Attacks started minutes after Milonov left the building.

Having thrown vials containing unknown gas that smelled of rotting fish under the door, anti-gay attackers prevented visitors from entering and leaving, spraying green dye from syringes on them. At one point, both entrances to the cafe were blocked. One was locked from outside by attackers and the other was held by security and volunteers to prevent them from entering and attacking people inside.

“Milonov left just a couple of minutes ahead of the attacks,” organizer Anna Anisimova told The St. Petersburg Times on Sept. 21. “They met in the stairwell, or he passed the baton to them, but I can’t say for sure because the fact was that thugs came just after Milonov had left. They were not together at one time.”

A number of people felt sick because of the gas and one or two were eventually taken away by ambulance. According Anisimova, some 20 to 30 members of the public had their clothes spoiled by green dye, including two representatives of the St. Petersburg ombudsman Alexander Shishlov. She said that foreign diplomats did not suffer. About 20 formal complaints regarding criminal assaults were filed with the police.

The police that were stationed in large numbers outside the building did not intervene until Shishlov arrived and urged the officers to protect the festival’s audience, while Alexei Smyatsky, the chief of the city’s public safety police, was seen speaking with Milonov in front of the building at the time when the attacks apparently began.

As attacks went on outside the café, the opening event was briefly held with foreign diplomats expressing their support for the festival and the LGBT community in St. Petersburg.

Attendees included Norway’s Consul General Heidi Olufsen, Sweden’s Deputy Consul General Björn Kavalkov-Halvarsson, the Netherlands’ Deputy Consul General Hugo Brouwer, Acting U.S. Consul General Courtney Nemroff and U.K. Deputy Consul General Robert Kempsell.

On Sept. 19, Ombudsman Shishlov appealed to city council chairman Vyacheslav Makarov asking him to take measures against Milonov, Zaks.ru reported. “The human rights of citizens were severely violated as the result of violent actions,” Shishlov wrote.

“I suppose that the active participation of a Legislative Assembly deputy in such actions discredits the city council and harms the reputation of St Petersburg. I request that you assess the actions of the deputy related to human rights abuses, as well as take measures for the code of ethics to be observed by Legislative Assembly deputies.”

Shishlov also urged St. Petersburg police chief Sergei Umnov to personally supervise the investigation into people’s complaints and take legal action against the offenders. He also asked Umnov to prevent possible attacks against the festival’s future events.

Despite Shishlov’s appeals, the pressure on Queerfest continued. An art workshop organized in cooperation with the Manifesta biennale and the conference “Queer or What Is the Art of Being Yourself,” Queerfest’s first public events scheduled for Sept. 19, were both canceled after the art space Loft Project Etagi refused to host the events one hour before the scheduled start.

On Sept. 20, the underground music club Zoccolo 2.0 canceled Queerfest’s Independent Music Night event, which was moved — in a shortened version — to the LGBT club 3L. At about 1 a.m. the police evacuated the venue due to a bomb threat. The LGBT club Malevich, located opposite 3L on Zastavskaya Ulitsa, was also evacuated.

“As far as we know, the police, among others, contact the owners of the venues and warn them about riots and put pressure on them, so that owners pressure the venues that rent their rooms from them,” Anisimova said.

“Zona Deistviya [a co-working space at Loft Project Etagi] was shut down altogether, so they create such conditions that nobody should work with us at all. On Sept. 20 we held a closed, peaceful musical event without any advertising at 3L and it still received a bomb threat, so even LGBT clubs fear working with us under the circumstances.”

Parents’ Day, a meeting with parents of LGBT people scheduled to be held on Monday, was also canceled “due to the inability to ensure the safety of participants. We fear for our parents; if we can cope with the situation, they don’t have such strong nerves,” Anisimova said.

Although Loft Project Etagi admitted reacting to a warning from the police, in most cases it was difficult to find out from whom exactly the pressure came, because the owners of the premises did not speak to the organizers directly but instructed the management of the venues.

Anisimova said that the festival would hold some lectures and a conference for a small number of people at places undisclosed for safety reasons, broadcasting them on the Internet. The events on Friday and Saturday will be public with announcements made on the festival’s website, assuming the situation does not deteriorate further, she said.

The festival’s closing event, a concert called Stop Homophobia in St. Petersburg featuring Swedish rock singer Jenny Wilson on Saturday, will be held but the organizers may move it into another venue that is less likely to be pressured by authorities and anti-gay activists — and would work on safety measures with security and in cooperation with ombudsman Shishlov.

According to Anisimova, attacks and pressure on the venues came as a surprise both to the organizers and the LGBT community.

“It was unexpected for me,” Anisimova said. “After the May 17 [the International Day Against Homophobia] rally and some other events went peacefully, it appeared that negative attention and homophobic aggression toward us had subsided. Turns out it hasn’t.”

Tom of Finlandization

An anonymous reader’s comment in the September 24, 2014, edition of the Finnish daily newspaper Etelä-Saimaa:

Valtavat Tom of Finland-taulut pitkin itärajaa tyrehdyttävät Venäjän erikoisjoukkojen hyökkäyksen Suomeen.

(“Huge Tom of Finland signs along the eastern border will suppress an invasion of Finland by Russian special forces.”)

IMAG5144

Stamps designed as a tribute to homoerotic artist and gay icon Touko Laaksonen—also known as Tom of Finland—went on sale Monday [September 8, 2014]. According to the postal service company Posti, the risqué stamps are [Finland’s] biggest seller ever, with pre-orders made in 178 different countries. The stamps, which hold pride of place in the newly-opened postal museum in Tampere, attracted a long queue of individuals eagerly anticipating the first day issues.

Tom+of+Finland+postimerkki+postipaketti

From a September 12, 2014, article published on the Russian-language news site of Yle (“Yleisradio”), the Finnish public broadcaster:

In Russia, there is a law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality. Journalists from the regional branch of Yleisradio in Tampere decided to test how Russian postal workers would react to parcels and letters adorned with ambiguous stamps featuring Laaksonen’s work. On Tuesday, two parcels and two letters pasted with the homoerotic stamps were sent to Russia.

According to Finnish postal workers, on average letters take six to nine days to get to Russia, while parcels take a little longer, fourteen to thirty days. The parcels were delivered to the international postal terminal in Vantaa on Wednesday and from there sent to Russia. 

The journalists from Tampere are tracking the movement of the parcels in real time. Readers can find about the further adventures of the “double agents” on Twitter by using the hashtag #TomofRussia.

Sochi Opening Ceremony

Ilya Matveev

Common sense is based on a sense of measure, a sense of proportion. Common sense is simply impossible in Russia, because the very fact the Olympics are being held here does not jibe with any justice of “number and measure,” as Plato called it. Meaning, literally, there are the Olympics, and “there is nothing else to talk about.” The hospitals have no drugs, the countryside has no schools, roads and stores, the universities cannot pay salaries of more than 10,000 rubles [approx. 200 euros] a month, and the most widespread dwellings, after all these years, are shabby nine-storey prefabs, built forty years ago by authorities who still possessed a shred of conscience. If you work in a kindergarten you’re dirt poor. If you’re a pensioner, boil yourself buckwheat and ask at the shop for an eighth of a loaf of bread. And in the midst of all this there is the Olympics. No “discussion” whatsoever is possible here. It was hard to imagine that the renewed tradition of ancient sporting competitions would come to symbolize the total, final and irrevocable humiliation of absolutely all people in Russia.

Source: Facebook (with kind permission from the author)

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Sergei Loiko
Triumph of the Will

Every day Nina Toromonyan comes to feed her pets amid the ruins of her house in the center of Sochi.

sochi story

The house and 25-acre plot with a view of the sea were confiscated by force and the house demolished, ostensibly because they impeded construction of Kurortny Avenue.

Thirteen people lived in the house, three families. They received total compensation of five million rubles [approx 105,000 euros]. Masked riot police toting machine guns evicted them on October 23, 2013, although Kurortny Avenue had already been built two kilometers from Nina’s house.

Her grandfather was officially granted the plot in 1947 in recognition of his heroism in World War Two.

None of the three related families who lived there has been able to buy themselves a house or even an apartment in Sochi. Like vagabonds, they find shelter where they can.

No one touched the homes to the right and the left of the plot. Experts says someone had set their sights on Nina’s property and used Putin’s Olympics to grab it on the sly. In fact, the prices in Sochi are such that the compensation payment should have been no less than forty million rubles [approx. 845,000 euros] .

When the riot police were dragging the bawling women from the house, Nina’s nine-year-old grandson Grisha shouted, “Don’t shoot, don’t kill us!” Trying to calm him down, his mother took his hand and said, “Don’t be afraid, son. They’re just making a movie—about fascists.”

Source: Facebook

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Fontanka.Ru
Four LGBT Activists Detained on Vasilievsky Island 
February 7, 2014

Four gay activists were detained today on the Spit of Vasilievsky Island [in Petersburg] when they decided to take a picture with a banner on the way to the place where a protest action was planned.

The LGBT activists did not make it to Belinsky Bridge, where they had planned, according to a previously circulated press release, to unfurl the meters-long banner in support of Olympic values.

As Fontanka.Ru has learned, along the way the activists decided to take a picture on the Spit. However, before they could unfurl the banner, emblazoned with the slogan “Any form of discrimination . . . is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement,” police officers arrived at the spot and detained them.

According to preliminary reports, among the detained is a young man and three young women, one of whom is pregnant. They are being taken to the 16th police precinct.

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Elena Kostyuchenko

Well, I’m home.

The short version is that during the four hours at Kitai-Gorod police station [in Moscow] Lynne Reid and Knicks Nemeni were handcuffed and kicked, Gleb Latnik was punched and pulled by the hair, and Ginger was put in a choke hold. I got off relatively easy: first, they suggested I “suck their cocks,” then they spat in my face.

Oh yeah, “You all should be burned” was among the remarks they made.

None of the policemen were wearing badges.

They enjoyed themselves. They confiscated our telephones. They sat there looking through our photos and leafing through our text messages.

A defense lawyer (an aide to MP Ilya Ponomaryov) was not let in to see us.

Then I was simply kicked out of the police station, with no arrest report, no nothing. “[He or she] sang a song to the tune of the Russian national anthem with distorted lyrics” was written in the arrest reports of the people who got them.

That’s not true. We sang our country’s national anthem, including the parts about “our free fatherland” and “you are unique in the world.”

We sang the national anthem all the way to the end.

It’s excellent singing the national anthem on Red Square. It’s nice on Red Square in general. We need to go there more often.

kostiuchenko-red square

Oh yes. When we left the cafe where we met before the protest, the police were already waiting for us. Dear LGBT activists, phones really are bugged, email really is scanned, and text messages are received not only by the people they’re sent to. Use alternative means of communication and take care of each other.

Love triumphs, both at the Olympics and just like that.

Source: Facebook

Drugstore Cowboy

IMAG3856

World-famous cinematic auteur Gus Van Sant has made me mutter “What the fuck” twice in my mostly uneventful life. The first time was sometime in 1988, when one evening my kitchen was suddenly flooded with incredibly bright light. I went outside to see where the light was coming from, and discovered Mr. Van Sant and his crew two blocks away, at the old St. Francis Hotel in Portland, Oregon, filming the final scene of what would end up being Drugstore Cowboy. The second time was tonight, at the closing ceremony of the Side by Side LGBT film festival at the Skorohod culture space in Petersburg, where Mr. Van Sant was the guest of honor. It was bad enough that he told the audience—who had just filed back into the Skorohod after a bomb threat, the fifth of Side by Side’s ten-day run, had cleared the place for an hour and a half while the police searched for the nonexistent bomb—about his visit, in 1991, to an equally nonexistent “gay artists’ commune” on Pushkinskaya Street. What was totally disheartening was that his remarks were translated by a person (an “old Russian friend,” Van Sant called him) who had helped pulled the wool over his eyes back then, twenty-two years ago, and who less than two years ago helped re-elect to the Russian presidency the man who is the real source of “homophobia” in Russia, not the “grassroots” homophobes of beleaguered Petersburg, who at most have been able to muster a couple dozen zombies to look funny at festival goers on a couple of occasions and phone in a bomb threat every other night. Mr. Van Sant should stick to making films about Portland, where he really does understand the lay of the land. Despite the fact it roused me out of the house that night in 1988, Drugstore Cowboy was a terrific movie.

Children 404

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/children-404

20131115071711-children404

Short Summary

In the Fall of 2013 a Russian documentary filmmaker contacted numerous LGBTQ activists and filmmakers from Canada and the United States with whom they had worked with in previous years to screen their films.  The message they sent was a request to help fund a film that they believe desperately needs to be made: a documentary by Russian LGBTQ identified people about the impact of the recent anti-gay propaganda law on LGBTQ identified young people.  They reached out to us because this film will be impossible to make without the financial support from the international LGBTQ community since funding for such a project is not only impossible, but illegal within the Russian Federation.  So it is on behalf of our Russian colleague and their co-director that we are asking for your trust and support to help fund this vital project entitled Children 404.

Ryan Conrad, part-time faculty, Concordia University; Co-founder Against Equality
Thomas Waugh, full-time faculty, Concordia University Research Chair in Sexual Representation and in Documentary
Ezra Winton, part-time faculty, Concordia University; Co-founder and Director of Programming, Cinema Politica
Svetla Turnin, Co-founder and Executive Director, Cinema Politica

Film Description from the Russian co-directors:

Currently there are about 2.5 million LGBT children and teenagers in Russia. In June of 2013 Vladimir Putin signed into law a new bill that forbids “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. LGBT young people are now defenseless because of this “gay propaganda” law. It is now forbidden to tell them that they are healthy and not sick, sinful, or abnormal. Psychologists, teachers, and even parents could be fined or imprisoned for supporting LGBT young people. These LGBT young people are now being bullied and harassed even worse than ever before by peers, teachers, and parents in school and out. This climate of anti-LGBT violence and harassment is permissible because of Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law.

The main character of this documentary project is eighteen-year-old Pasha, who survived much anti-LGBT harassment and intimidation at school.  After recently finishing school he became an LGBT activist. Later this year he enters a Canadian university and moves to Canada for the foreseeable future. This film will also contains anonymous interviews with young people, parents, psychologists, teachers, and priests on both sides of the issue in Russia.

What We Need

All funding we gather will be transferred directly to our colleagues in Russia.  We keep nothing, nor do we act as traditional producers where we influence the content and outcome of the film.  We are simply conduits for funding since their lives would be at risk if they were to create an appeal themselves.

The simple timeline and budget shared with us by our Russian colleagues is as follows (in USD $):

Timeline:

  • Currently: Fundraising, development, pre-production
  • 01/09/2013 – 30/12/2013: Shooting, fundraising, production
  • 01/01/2013 – 31/03/2014: Post production
  • 31/03/2014: Film release

Budget:

  • Research period: $500
  • Travels around Russia $7000
  • Overhead charges $3000
  • Materials $2000
  • Editor $2000
  • Sound editor $1000
  • Color grade $1500
  • Translations $800
  • Digital media $1000

TOTAL BUDGET: $18,800.00

As you can see, we are trying to raise a significant portion of their total budget ($10,000 USD or $10,300 CAD) while they are carefully raising funds from within their own communities to make up the difference.  Anything we raise over the goal set here will only alleviate the necessity to find funds amongst their own community in these dangerous and demoralizing times for LGBTQ people in Russia.

The Impact

Directly from the mouths of our colleagues:

The Importance

“В этом году 2,5 миллиона ЛГБТдетей в России оказалось без возможности поддержки. Теперь, согласно новому закону «о запрете пропаганды нетрадиционных сексуальных отношений среди детей» сказать им что они нормальны – это преступление.”

“This year an estimated 2.5 million LGBT children and teenagers in Russia no longer have any support. Now according to the new bill which forbids ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors’ supporting them and telling them that they are not abnormal is a crime.”

The Impact

“Документальный проект «Дети 404» – это возможность для ЛГБТ-подростков перестать наконец быть невидимыми и рассказать свои истории зрителям фильма.”

“The documentary project “Children 404″ is an opportunity for LGBT young people to cease being invisible by telling their stories in their own words.”

Other Ways You Can Help

Some people just can’t contribute financially, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help:

  • Send this link on to your networks to help get the word out.
  • Stay informed about what is happening in Russia, especially the news and information coming directly from the mouths of LGBT Russians.

*press inquiries can be made via rconrad<at>meca<dot>edu*

Dmitry Chizhevsky: “I Feel Really Sorry for the Stupid Guys Who Did This to Me”

On November 3, 2013, the LaSky LGBT community center in downtown Petersburg was attacked by two masked men. Two people were injured during the attack, including 27-year-old Dmitry Chizhevsky, who sustained serious damage in one eye after being shot with a pneumatic pistol.

On November 5, Mr. Chizhevsky posted the following statement (in Russian) on his Vkontakte page. It was published later the same day as a blog on the web site of radio station Echo of Moscow.Dmitry_Chizhevsky_Russian_Gay_Activist_Blinded_Attack

So I guess I should write something. Many of the doctors are saying the chances of restoring my eye are minimal. But all the same I do not believe them: I still imagine that when the bandage is removed I will be able to see with it again. I guess I have not come to terms with the diagnosis, but I never will! We are now working on a plan involving a trip to a foreign clinic, but I have no passport nor, as it turns out, am I registered anywhere. I had myself taken off the registry at one address and just could not get around to going to my local residence registration office. It is not clear how long it will take to do the passport, but the foreign clinic is willing to write a letter to the Federal Migration Service asking them to speed up the processing. If anyone can help out with this problem, I would be quite grateful. That is the main problem now.

I feel really sorry for the stupid guys who did this to me. I am sure they did not expect such consequences themselves. I will not be demanding they be harshly punished if they turn themselves in and confess to police investigators. Anyway, we know that there were a number of cameras around the site where the attack occurred, that they were caught on them, and that police have video footage of them. Regardless of their behavior, I realize they are only tools. The blame for what happened to my eye lies not with them but with every politician who has supported and stirred the homophobic hysteria in recent months. My disability is on the conscience of Milonov, Mizulina, Yarovaya and other such politicians. If you had treated citizens like human beings, if you had not stuffed the heads of these guys with your hatred, none of this would have happened. You are responsible not only for my injury but also for these fellows, who are facing serious prison terms and ruined lives. Using every legal means, I will be avenged on each of you. The truth is on my side, and sooner or later you will answer for everything.

I want to say a big thanks to my mom, my sister, civil society activists, the Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out, and LaSky. And to each of the hundreds of strangers who has written me kind words of support. You are my heroes. Your commitment makes me believe in Russia, in our people, in our future and in justice. I beg you not to be afraid of anything. I don’t like it, but I realize now is a very important moment: if we cannot get an honest investigation and punishment for the guilty parties (even suspended sentences, if they repent; I won’t harbor malice towards them), then the homophobes will understand they can get away with anything in this country, that they can attack us not only at protests and in clubs but also simply find us where we live and attack us one by one. We must act together to stop the wave of violence beginning before our eyes. I would like to say we had another choice, that we could choose just to live our lives and not be involved in defending decency, honesty and justice, but let’s be honest: actually, I am no activist.

I did not go to LGBT rallies and was not involved in LGBT protest actions. I was around and lent my support, and sometimes I went to closed meetings. But I must admit I was afraid of being an activist, of course, and tried to spare myself. That did not work out in my case. It was an absolute coincidence: I could not have anticipated or prevented this. I realize that anyone, absolutely anyone could have ended up in my shoes. And now I just do not believe there is anywhere to hide from hatred towards us. :( Guys, I ask you to visit or call a Russian LGBT Network branch, find out how you can help, and help anyway you can. Don’t overdo it, but devote at least one hour a week to the fight for justice. Unfortunately, truth, justice and honesty have no other defenders than you.

I would like to make a separate appeal to all activists: a special responsibility now rests on you. I beg you—no, I demand that you now make safety the cornerstone of your work. Be sure to put cameras in your offices; don’t skimp on safety. If you organize protests (and feisty Kirill and Danka are eager to organize something), think over your escape routes and security plan. Assign team leaders to coordinate protests, people every protester can go to. Make sure to provide security checklists for each protest and hand them out to the folks who come to them.

Gay athletes, steroid-using bodybuilders, the dream of all girls and boys! I beg you to be real men and take responsibility at this difficult moment. Help protect the other guys, show them, at last, our fraternal courage and solidarity. Throughout history, the most courageous and fearless troops were our troops. Is that now a thing of the past? Give advice to the other guys about how and where to train, what weights to pump, what classes to take. If you are a coach and, like me, you realize things could not be worse, that terrible times have come to our country, help out by organizing classes and teaching the guys how to fight. Alas, it is very important right now: I beg you not to remain on the sidelines. Thank you in advance!

Thanks again to all of you. Please take care of yourselves. I love you.

 Translated by the Russian Reader

The Unpleasant Incident

LGBT Activists Greet Culture Ministry Chief Medinsky with Rainbow Flags
October 27, 2013
www.fontanka.ru

The unpleasant incident took place in Petersburg when Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky was taking part in the Olympic torch relay.

As Fontanka.Ru’s correspondent reports, the Culture Ministry chief took the torch in front of the Yelstin Presidential Library and carried it to the intersection with the English Embankment. During his run, two members of the LGBT movement unfurled rainbow flags, the symbol of their movement.

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Police tried to stop the activists, but both young women managed to escape arrest and hang on to their flags.

As the LGBT activists themselves explained to Fontanka.Ru, the purpose of their action was to protest the Sochi Olympic Games [sic], to be held in 2014.

The Olympic torch rally in Petersburg started today at 11:00 a.m. The event will culminate after 7:00 p.m. with a big celebration on Palace Square.