Russian lgbt activist Nikolai Alexeyev disappeared
September 17, 2010 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Concerns for the safety of Russian lgbt activist Nikolai Alexeyev. "After passing passport control at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, Mr Alekseev’s boarding pass was cancelled and his luggage unloaded from the plane upon a request from Russian authorities. He was taken into custody around 19:00 MSD, and has not yet been released." Text messages stating that he was withdrawing his case before the ECHR and seeking asylum in Belarus are believed to be fake or coerced under torture.
posted by ts;dr (14 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, that's really scary. I'll be thinking about him all day.
posted by hermitosis at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Brutal. The news is saying he's in Belarus now, but hoping to return for the picket. Brave bloke.
posted by shinybaum at 9:26 AM on September 17, 2010


Can someone please explain the Russian government's (and the people's?)
problem with LGBT folks? Is it like in Uganda where they believe that gays only diddle little boys, or what?
posted by Xoder at 9:34 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brutal. The news is saying he's in Belarus now, but hoping to return for the picket. Brave bloke.
posted by shinybaum at 7:26 PM


can you cite a source for that? All the news I have, and linked in the article above, say that this is not confirmed but rather highly doubtful, and the text messages fake.
See also UKGAyNews
posted by ts;dr at 9:45 AM on September 17, 2010


I think it's the Hobbesian authoritarian mindset at the centre of Russian governance from the Tsarist era onward. I.e., anything that challenges traditional norms is an ontological threat to the authority of the state and the stability of the established order and must be rooted out.
posted by acb at 9:47 AM on September 17, 2010


I think it's the Hobbesian authoritarian mindset at the centre of Russian governance from the Tsarist era onward. I.e., anything that challenges traditional norms is an ontological threat to the authority of the state and the stability of the established order and must be rooted out.


No, that's a tempting explanation, but it's not a good one. Plenty of things in Russia violate traditional norms and are supported either tacitly or explicitly by the state.

What I think is at issue here is not the "lgbt" aspect (though it will likely make his treatment at the hands of individual grunts much worse) but rather the "activist" aspect. Alekseev organizes unlicensed paradas, which makes him automatically suspect. Basically, if you're an "activist" in contemporary Russia, you have to work extra-hard to convince the state that you're working in its own interests, not against them. If you manage to do that, you're all set. (Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is the central media organ of the opposition, has succeeded really well. Not only does it still exist, but it recently got a shout-out on the presidential Twitter congratulating it on its twentieth anniversary.) The increase in crackdowns, I suspect, has to do with the state's insecurity about its standing with the people--there's a widespread impression that the handling of the heat wave and forest fires was incompetent and mismanaged by the central authorities, and by some strange logic they think that by doing what they do best (arresting people) they'll be able to repair their public image.

None of this, incidentally, has to do with Russian society, which is steadily getting more and more tolerant (or, rather, indifferent) about cultural issues like LGBT rights..
posted by nasreddin at 10:10 AM on September 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


That Twitter (English version), by the way, is a really interesting historical document. Medvedev, as far as I can tell, is a genuine liberal trapped in a position where he has enough responsibility to be blamed for things but not enough power to change them. It's kind of a shame that he'll be out in the next election.
posted by nasreddin at 10:23 AM on September 17, 2010


Watching gay pride marches starting to take form in other parts of the world has been one of the amazing things of the past 5 years or so. Seeing the resistance with which they have been met has been heartbreaking. Hostility, arrests, brutality... I cannot help but feel for those who are trying to stand up and live lives without shame and claim their own selves in the face of adversity.

My thoughts will be with Alexeyev. I hope those following this story more closely than I will keep this thread updated as more news is known.
posted by hippybear at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2010


"None of this, incidentally, has to do with Russian society, which is steadily getting more and more tolerant (or, rather, indifferent) about cultural issues like LGBT rights"

This is really the opposite of what I have with russians who work on different causes from anti-racism to transgender and/or gay right issues.
What a gay rights activist told me is that being identifiable as gay is going to get you beaten up on the streets with a high probability, and antifascist activists told me that as terrible as the Putin regime seems to be, it still is more tolerant and liberal as a vast majority of the public.

This is of course anecdotal evidence, if you have any evidence like polls or surveys that support a different viewpoint I would gladly be proven wrong.
posted by ts;dr at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I wanted to say: "the opposite of what I heard from...")
posted by ts;dr at 10:51 AM on September 17, 2010


Interesting with all the grief (Moscow Mayor) Luzhkov's been handed from the Kremlin.

Muscovites can handle the rallies being suppressed and the whole 'gays are satanic' sentiments from Luzhkov (genuinely loving each other satanic, exploiting a couple teenagers and titillation thanks to repression: platinum), but start having traffic jams and you're in serious political trouble.

Either way he's not exactly young (well, for a Russian politician he's a teenager, but still). (Medvedev - the whole 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' thing? , Given the Kremlin wants Luzhkov out. But does Putin want him out or not? Is there a schism, or is he playing possum? Dun dun DUNN!)

Whatever the case there are some powerful conflicting groups right now, any one of which could grab him, who spreading pressure around. Media and otherwise.
Lot of conflicting reports. He's expelled. He's seeking asylum. Etc.

being identifiable as gay is going to get you beaten up on the streets
Same deal in a lot of places, depends on the city, the neighborhood, etc.
The Russian Orthodox church has seemed to ease off on a lot of the rhetoric of old. But you've got the fundamentalists in the church (and the occasional skinhead). Some polls have about 80 percent of the population saying homosexuality is immoral. But the public face is often at odds with what actually goes on on the streets. Like a lot of places.

And it's an old dance - the 'point to someone as the source of the country's problems and scapegoat them' dance. Not that this is any consolation.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:23 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


german gay news site queer.de has a live ticker, some of the points via automatic translation and some correction by me:

19:50: The official Russia may react: the 21 for September demonstration planned against Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has been banned because the safety of participantssupposedly could not be guaranteed. This reports the activist Alexey Davydov, who called the decision "frivolous". Activists around the CSD in Moscow announced the demonstation on Wednesday. It should take place on the birthday of the homophobic mayor under the title "Luzhkov - gomiki". This term (something like "fag"), the mayor had once used for gays, a court had recently confirmed that the term was not pejorative. For Davydov, however, the fun of turning is over. He calls for a demonstration despite the ban on participation, but under the title "throw Luzhkov in jail"

20:34 Some german foreign policy and human rights commisioner will travel to russia and talk to people next week.

22:18 A Belarusian activist told Queer.de, citing an anonymous and considered reliable source: Alekseev has not applied for asylum in Belarus. He is also not in the country, neither today or yesterday. He is no longer in possession of his mobile phone and text messages sent from his cell phone have been written by someone else.

22:21 The page "gayrussia.ru" now says "has to be restored. Please, check later."
posted by ts;dr at 2:40 PM on September 17, 2010


uk gay news reports that he is now on his way to moscow. tomorrow we may know more:

I never was in Minsk … My phone was taken from me two days ago …” These are the actual – and remarkable – words of Nikolai Alekseev, the gay Russian activist and chief organiser of Moscow Pride, who has surfaced somewhere in Russia.

Mr. Alekseev was speaking this evening to a close friend, who is known to UK Gay News from Moscow Gay Pride in May – and who is reliable.

The close friend, who does not want to be identified as he fears for his safety, said he was certain that it was Nikolai Alekseev speaking.
posted by ts;dr at 6:24 PM on September 17, 2010




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