It is not surprising that Russia has been engaging in anti-gay legislation and propaganda as part of an attempt to divert the public’s attention away from the problems that the nation is facing. This is, of course, leading to vigilantes attacking and bully gays in the Eurasian nation.
According to the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance (SHRA), the “Occupy Pedophilyaj” and “Occupy Gerontilyaj” campaigns being organized by the former skinhead Maxim Martsinkevich are targeting gay teenagers lured to secluded places through personal ads. Once there, the teens are bullied and tortured.
Martsinkevich is a Russian ultranationalist. How directly involved he is in these activities is difficult to determine.
According to the sHRA, the vigilantes set up ads on VK, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, and then record the encounters where they bully and torture the boys. The SHRA denounced these vigilantes saying “These self-proclaimed ‘crime fighters’ perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to general public that indifferently passes by or even commend them. Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized.”
The SHRA posted video showing a group of young people who are supposedly connected with these groups interrogating a teen boy at what appears to be a housing compound. The group put the young man over a bench to interrogate him, ask him why he was there to meet “Uncle Dima” (the pseudonym the vigilante gang used) and force the boy to admit to being there to have sex. The boy, who is 15, admits to who he is, where he goes to school, and various other things. The video cuts off before things apparently get bad after one of the gang members tries to pour urine on the boy’s head and another tries to kick him.
Ostensibly, the movements are suppose to be targeting pedophiles, but then again, a lot of people involved in the group equate pedophilia with homosexuality. The Russian newspaper Lenta joined “Occupy Pedofilyaj” in order to learn more. One of the leaders of the local vigilante gang explained that “We do not like homosexuals. If it was up to me, I’d kill them but the government doesn’t allow that. . .I think practically all gay men [are] pedophiles. Once you’ve crossed over once, you can cross over again. Today he likes boys, and then it’ll be children. They’re not suitable for life in society.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a law which bans so-called homosexual propaganda. The law makes it a crime to distribute anything positive about homosexuality even though, supposedly, it is only suppose to be a crime to distribute it to children.
Putin has been under pressure from within Russia over the growing dictatorial nature of his Presidency, and playing up anti-gay sentiment has been one of the ways in which he has diverted attention from the issue.
Age of consent in Russia is 16. Homosexuality, however, is not illegal.