Russian Journalists Face Prosecution for Gay Propaganda
Washington D.C. – Human Rights First today expressed concern over news reports of the conviction and trial announcement of two Russian journalists for violating the discriminatory anti-“propaganda” laws. Alexander Suturin, chief editor of the Khabarovsk newspaper was convicted and fined Wednesday for violating the law, and it was announced today that Lena Klimova, journalist in Nizhny Tagil, will soon face trial for gay propaganda charges.
Suturin was fined the equivalent of $1,400 under the anti-“propaganda” law for printing a quote from a geography teacher who was fired for being gay. The quote which led to the conviction was from fired Russian Academy for Science teacher Alexander Ermoshkin who said, “My very existence is proof being gay is normal.” Klimova, a second journalist, will soon face trial for founding and running an online community called Children-404, which was created on Facebook and the Russian social network vk.com as a community for Russian LGBT teenagers. The site posts letters from LGBT teenagers, including coming out stories, and organizes online chats with LGBT community leaders.
“The fact that two new anti-propaganda cases are moving forward in the lead-up to the Olympics is a clear signal that Russia has no intention of slowing its crackdown on the rights of its own citizens,” said Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First. “Despite the release of Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot, it is clear the President Putin is more concerned with repressing dissent than with creating a good impression with the international community before the Olympics. As the world’s eyes descend on Sochi starting next week, it is critical that the United States continue to pay attention to the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Russia, that is sure to continue if not worsen once the Games are over.”
Human Rights First encourages the Obama Administration to continue to support the LGBT community in Russia following the Olympic Games by sending a high level official to Russia in March to follow up on human rights cases and ensuring that the Embassy actively follow up with Russian human rights defenders.
Human Rights First will be sending a delegation to the Olympic Games in Sochi to engage the U.S. Olympic delegation, the international media, and human rights defenders about the crackdown on civil society in Russia, and encourage that attention to these issues continues once the Games are over. The organization continues to urge the U.S. government to keep up the pressure on Russian lawmakers to repeal the anti-“propaganda” laws and prevent the passage of further discriminatory laws.