Tag Archives: pogrom

Playing the Homophobia Card, or, We Decided to Go Fascist Because We Ran Out of Other Ideas for Ruling the Country

Yesterday we posted an article on an attack on a Moscow gay nightclub by a group of armed men, along with a call by our comrades in the Russian Socialist Movement for the opposition to combat homophobia and other forms of xenophobia in Russia. Now, as it turns out, the victims of last week’s pogrom were actually themselves to blame:

Vitaly Milonov, a deputy in the St. Petersburg legislative assembly from United Russia, is co-author of the notorious law forbidding “promotion of homosexuality.” He blamed the incident in the club on gay people themselves. He said in an interview with Snob.ru that the incident was the “result of the obnoxious, crude and permissive behavior of the gay community. …What other reaction could there be when, in response to democratic actions, they run around like jackals at consulates, beg for another grant and write letters demanding that the authorities be punished? This is a warning to the gay community so that they don’t forget that they live in the Russian Federation, a country with a healthy historical and cultural legacy.”

In case anyone missed that, let us spell it out in plain English: an elected official from Russia’s second largest city, its so-called “window on Europe,” has condoned mob violence against a particular group of his fellow citizens, blaming them—the victims—for the attack. This is fascism.

Oh, and remember Pussy Riot’s desperate attempt to warn their own fellow citizens and the rest of the world about the dangers of a fusion of church and state in Russia? Well, here’s what you get when the merger is a done deal and the gloves come off:

Sergei Rybko, a Russian Orthodox priest, spoke out more forcefully. “The Holy Scriptures instruct us to cast stones at all those guys with nontraditional orientation. As long as that scum is not banished from Russian land, I completely agree with people who are trying to cleanse our homeland of them. If the government won’t do it, then the people will,” he said an interview with Pravoslaviye i Mir (Orthodoxy and the World). He added that he regretted that because he is a priest, “he couldn’t take part in actions of this sort.”

Go here for Victor Davidoff’s insightful essay on what he calls a “witch hunt” against gays, from which we’ve taken the quotations, above.

And in case you were wondering, Russia does have laws against public hate speech. Mssrs. Milonov and Rybko could both be easily and successfully prosecuted for their comments—were it not the fact that, apparently, violent homophobia is now semi-official state policy in Russia.

Here’s another reminder of the grim details:

www.bikyamasr.com

Russia must investigate gay friendly bar attack
Human Rights Watch
14 October 2012

MOSCOW: Russian authorities should promptly and effectively investigate a violent attack on a gay-friendly club in Moscow on October 11, Human Rights Watch said. The attack took place several days after People’s Council, a nationalist organization, said publicly that homosexuality is “a grave sin” and that it would try to close down gay clubs.

Soon after 9 p.m. on October 11, between 15 and 20 black-clad men wearing surgical masks ran into the 7FreeDays Club, which was hosting a party organized by gay activists in celebration of National Coming Out Day. The attackers rampaged through the bar, throwing chairs and bottles at guests and staff, kicking people, and destroying property. The attacks took place in the context of a sinister legislative trend in which many Russian regions are passing laws to ban “homosexual propaganda.”

“Russia’s leadership has stood by as regions have adopted blatantly homophobic laws,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These laws cannot but encourage attacks like the one last night.”

An ambulance worker at the scene told a correspondent for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta that four people had head injuries and that two of them had to be hospitalized. Several others had bruises and other minor injuries.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that about 70 people were at the party when the attackers arrived. The witnesses said that the attackers had at least two guns, which may have been stun guns, and mace. They rushed into the premises screaming, “You wanted a pogrom? You wanted a fight? You got it!” and proceeded to destroy the club. They held the bartender at gunpoint, forced her face down on the floor, and started smashing the bar, breaking bottles and glasses over her head. They also smashed plates and glasses, overturned tables, and threw chairs and other objects directly at the guests.

The three witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that most injuries were caused by flying furniture and other objects. The attackers, who wore heavy boots, also kicked people, some in the head. One young woman’s eyeglasses were broken by a flying object, and shreds of glass got into her eye. The ambulance workers, who arrived at the club shortly after the attack, provided medical assistance to several people and took two people with head injuries to the hospital.

An activist who was at the club during the attack told Human Rights Watch that although there is a police station close to the club, it took the police half an hour to arrive after they were called.

“The authorities need to send an unambiguous signal that homophobia will not be tolerated, and the first step should be to investigate and prosecute the attackers,” Williamson said. “The second step should be to annul the homophobic laws. They are discriminatory, they violate Russia’s international obligations, and they have no place in a society that upholds the rule of law.”

People’s Council and several other conservative groups have called on the Moscow city council to adopt a law banning “homosexual propaganda.” Such a law has already been submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma. Legislatures in nine Russian regions have adopted these laws, and similar measures are pending in another seven. The laws use the pretext of protecting children from pedophilia and “immoral behavior.” The propaganda bans are so vague and broad that they could be applied to anyone displaying a rainbow flag, wearing a T-shirt with a gay-friendly logo, or holding a gay-friendly-themed rally.

Russia is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which impose obligations on countries to protect the right of individuals not to be discriminated against, and the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression. Russia also supported March 2010 recommendations from the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The recommendations include provisions to safeguard freedom of assembly and expression without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The European Court of Human Rights has firmly rejected an argument by the Russian government that there is no general consensus on issues relating to the treatment of “sexual minorities.” In a case against Russia for failing to uphold the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to peaceful assembly and expression, the court affirmed that there is “no ambiguity” about “the right of individuals to openly identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or any other sexual minority, and to promote their rights and freedoms, in particular by exercising their freedom of peaceful assembly.”

In September, Russia sponsored a resolution on “traditional values” at the United Nations Human Rights Council that threatens the rights of LGBT people and women in particular. It passed on September 27. The resolution contravenes the central principles of the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch said.

“It’s bad enough that the Russian government is not stopping discrimination against LGBT people in Russia,” Williamson said. “It’s particularly disturbing that the government is essentially promoting a position that will be used to silence LGBT people and groups around the world. Russia should strengthen, not undo, protection for universal rights.”

One slight correction to Mr. Williamson’s essentially correct sentiments: the Russian leadership hasn’t “stood by,” as he puts it, while some of the country’s regions have adopted homophobic laws. They are behind these laws.

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Violent Homophobia as State Policy in Russia

Group of Masked Men Attacks Gay Club
By Ezekiel Pfeifer
The Moscow Times
15 October 2012

Police started an inquiry Friday to identify a group of men who wreaked havoc in a Moscow gay club — attacking clubgoers, overturning tables and throwing bottles — which left four people hospitalized and others injured.

Police began to receive phone calls around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night from people saying a group of aggressive young men had entered the club 7FreeDays, located in a basement on Milyutinsky Pereulok in central Moscow, and started a fight, an unspecified police official told Interfax.

The club, which on its website describes itself as the “first gay- and lesbian-friendly bar in Russia,” was holding an event in honor of international Coming Out Day. Police arrived at the club after the agitators had fled the scene.

Police plan to study videos from nearby surveillance cameras, RIA-Novosti reported, but the attackers might be hard to identify because, for privacy reasons, there were no cameras inside the club.

Four people were hospitalized, the news agency said.

Unspecified police officials told Lifenews.ru that the attackers were dressed in dark clothes and surgical masks and that many of them had shaved heads.

A man in the club at the time of the attack told the online tabloid that acid was thrown on him. Other witnesses told the NTV television channel that a group of about 20 attackers struck clubgoers repeatedly over the course of five to six minutes, turned over tables and threw bottles, then fled.

“First I thought it was part of the show. … A bit later we realized it was not a show, but an attack,” witness Pavel Samburov told the channel.

The injured included a woman who was rushed to a hospital with a punctured eye after her glasses were smashed to pieces, NTV reported.

The attackers held the bartender at gunpoint, forced her face down on the floor, and started smashing the bar, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday. About 70 people were at the party that evening, the statement said. It called on Russian authorities to investigate the attack.

Earlier last week, the People’s Council, a nationalist Orthodox group, called for the closure of all gay clubs in Moscow as part of an effort to prohibit the “promotion of homosexuality.”

The People’s Council said Moscow lawmakers should follow the example set by their counterparts in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, where the “promotion of homosexuality to minors” had already been banned.

Moscow has about a dozen gay or nominally gay-friendly bars and clubs, according to various Internet listings. No one has claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack.

Gay rights leader Nikolai Alexeyev said in a commentary piece on Gayrussia.eu that he thought the attack took place because the perpetrators felt they would not be punished.

“The main reason for what happened is the feeling of complete impunity of the people who commit such crimes, which must be considered hate crimes — in this case, hate crimes against those who love others,” Alexeyev wrote.

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anticapitalist.ru

Let’s Stand Up to State-Sponsored Xenophobia!
A Statement by the Russian Socialist Movement

On October 11 in Moscow, a group of twenty armed thugs attacked the club 7FreeDays, where an event celebrating LGBT Coming Out Day was underway. After breaking into the club, the thugs assaulted partygoers before escaping the scene of the crime completely unimpeded.

The attack on 7FreeDays cannot be regarded as an isolated incident. Law enforcement authorities are always well informed about such groups of pogromists and their plans, so in this particular case we are dealing, if not with a deliberate provocation on the part of the police, then with their connivance. This attack has taken place amidst calls by United Russia deputies in the Moscow City Duma to adopt a law, similar to one already adopted in Petersburg, banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in Moscow, and proposals by Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, that LGBT people should be banned from working in schools. Previously, when officials commented bans on marches and rallies defending LGBT rights, they argued that there was simply nothing for activists to defend, citing the presence of special LGBT nightclubs in the major cities. Now, however, their rhetoric has become tougher: we are confronted with calls and plans to actually reduce the labor rights of LGBT people, along with attacks on the places where they were permitted to openly express their personal feelings without the risk of encountering violent homophobia.

It is no accident that this flare-up of state-sponsored xenophobia is taking place amidst a new phase in the attack on the social rights of Russian citizens and the veritable abandonment by the authorities of their campaign promises. When governments want to take something away from their citizens, they begin vigorously supporting chauvinism and xenophobia. First, chauvinistic sentiments are artificially provoked in society by means of propaganda, and then the authorities pretend they are merely making concessions to the popular mood, thus concealing their own dirty deeds. Today, these deeds include cuts to the network of state educational institutions, the destruction of the system of free medical care, and increases in utility rates at a tempo that outpaces increases to state-sector wages and pensions.

Thus, opposing state-sponsored xenophobia and preventing growing popular discontent with the socio-economic situation from once again being channeled by the authorities into xenophobia and chauvinism is a task not only for LGBT activists.

The Russian Socialist Movement demands:

• a prompt investigation into the attack on 7FreeDays
• the repeal of all laws adopted recently in various regions of Russia that in one way or another limit the rights of LGBT people
• the resignation of all MPs and officials who have sponsored such legislative initiatives

We call on friendly leftist organizations, as well as all organizations and public figures who claim to belong to the opposition, to support our demands.

October 14, 2012
Russian Socialist Movement (RSD)

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Almost as if on cue, a “grassroots organization” with the grimly and comically appropriate name of Reaction held a rally outside Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral in Petersburg on Sunday against what it dubbed the “homo dictatorship.” The homely appearance of the “Reactionaries” supports the RSD’s argument that, as it pursues homophobia and other forms of xenophobia as semi-official policy, the Russian state pretends to be caving into purely popular sentiment.

 Stop, Gay Dictatorship! Today They Confiscated Dmitry Deneiko’s Cross, Tomorrow They’ll Arrest You!
[Deneiko is a nationalist arrested on suspicion of participating in a group assault on LGBT activists after an opposition rally in Petersburg on June 12.]

 

“God is the universe’s head homophobe.” Holy Martyr Daniil Sysoev

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Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants in Petersburg (May 17, 2012)

Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
May 23, 2012

An authorized International Day Against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was broken up by ultranationalists and Orthodox radicals and ended with attacks and mass beatings Thursday [May 17].

A man shot at two demonstrators with a gun firing irritant fluid, and then a militant crowd smashed windows in two buses carrying Central Asian migrant workers — whom they initially mistook for departing LGBT activists — with stones and attacked those inside one of the buses when it came to a standstill.

Called the Rainbow Flash Mob, the rally — which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration — was stopped about half an hour after its start time when the police, who were present in large numbers at the scene, told the organizers that they would not be able to hold back the anti-gay protesters for long, according to the LGBT rights group Vykhod (Coming Out).

Despite their massive presence, the police did not attempt to disperse an aggressive crowd that gathered near the rally site shouting homophobic slogans, firing rubber bullet and irritant guns and throwing objects.

Video footage from Piter.tv shows menacing-looking young men — many with their faces hidden by medical masks or black cloth — clapping rhythmically and chanting, “We will hang and bury you!”

Yevgeny Zubarev, a reporter with Piter.tv, said rubber bullets were also fired at journalists, as he was nearly hit by one.

OMON riot police officers stood in a line, preventing the radicals from entering the rally, but did nothing to stop the threats being made.

The anti-gay protesters, of whom there were more than 200, included Orthodox activists, nationalists and young men who resembled neo-Nazis or football hooligans. One young man, who held an offensive anti-gay sign, was wearing a scarf with the logo and name of the Young Guard, United Russia’s youth organization.

The first attack occurred soon after the rally began, when a man wearing a suit and tie and glasses discharged a pistol firing irritant fluid at a woman who was holding colored balloons, and then shot at a man who rushed to help her. A video on the Piter.tv web site shows him shooting at people and shouting “Sodomy is a deadly sin” as he was being led away by a police officer.

The police told the organizers to end the rally, which was scheduled to last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., after about 30 minutes, arguing that officers would not be able to hold the crowd for long. Only two of the scheduled speakers had time to make speeches.

Releasing more than 500 colored balloons into the air, the 100-plus participants left the park by bus for safety reasons. Provided by the organizers and the police, three buses left unnoticed in the opposite direction to where the counter-demonstrators were. They took passengers to the offices of Coming Out, as well as to several faraway metro stations.

However, at about the same time, two other buses — which happened to be carrying Central Asian migrant workers — were driving past the site, and a group of about 60 young men and women ran after them shouting anti-gay insults, throwing stones and at least one smoke bomb at them until most of the windows were broken.

Apparently they did not realize who was inside until they caught up with them as the buses slowed down on the bridge over the Zhdanovka River. Discovering that the passengers were not LGBT activists, however, did not cause them to end their attack.

As the second bus stopped, having apparently mounted the curb, the attackers started to climb through the broken windows in the rear of the bus and punch those inside while at least one delivered several blows through a side window.

As the attack continued, the bus passengers started to jump out from one of the front side windows and run away. The bus then managed to drive off as the attackers dispersed in the neighborhood.

The police watched from a distance and did not intervene.

According to LGBT activist Maria Yefremenkova, a young man and woman who were late for the rally were attacked by the same people afterwards as they were walking toward Petrovsky Park wearing rainbow paraphernalia.

On Friday, the police spokesman said that the police had failed to find any of the victims of the attacks on the buses.

“The bus is owned by one of the city’s enterprises, it was carrying the enterprise’s workers,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

“The owner declined to file a report due to the insignificance of the damages.”

The attacks went unreported on the police’s web site, where the May 17 bulletin included incidents such as a pickpocket being caught on a tram and two attempts to sell alcohol without a license.

A probe has however been ordered by the St. Petersburg police chief to investigate the actions of the police during the event, the police spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The man who discharged the pistol firing irritant fluid has reportedly been charged with hooliganism and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

There has been no reaction from the city authorities, although the city’s new ombudsman, Alexander Shishlov, released a statement Friday urging the police to find the organizers and participants of the attacks and instigate criminal proceedings against them.

The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism to minors” came into force in March.

Photos courtesy of Sergey Chernov and Ridus.ru.

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What a Pogrom Looks Like (Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Migrant Workers in Petersburg)

SP Times Online • May 18, 2012

The International Day against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was stopped less than half an hour after its start time Thursday due to the large presence of anti-gay opponents who shouted homophobic slogans, fired gas and pellet guns and threw objects. Participants in the rally, which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration, left the park by bus. The counter-demonstrators, who threw stones, eggs and smoke bombs, then attacked two buses carrying migrant workers, whom they mistook for the departing LGBT activists, smashed the windows in them and attacked some of the passengers traveling in one of them. The police watched from a distance and did not intervene. The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy … to minors” came into force in March.

Photos by Sergey Chernov. See his complete photo reportage of yesterday’s pogrom in “Russia’s fascism capital” (©) here.

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Internet channel Piter.TV aired an even more horrifying and damning report on yesterday’s pogrom. We would have liked (so to speak) to repost it here, but that proved impossible, so watch it here if you dare.

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