Pride in Russia, Putin Style

Randy Potts

May 29th, 2013

Last Saturday in Russia, activist Nikolai Alekseev and a small group of compatriots held yet another banned Pride event in Moscow in front of the State Duma. Two days before the announced (but banned) event, the police visited Nikolai’s home to warn him from carrying out the protest and published their warning in the paper.

Amazingly, today Nikolai and his team have released a video made from several small cameras pinned to activist’s clothing showing what “Pride” looks like in Putin’s Russia — one big, homophobic mess, complete with Orthodox onlookers praying and what appears to have been a punch thrown at Nikolai as he was dragged to the police van.

According to the video, 39 activists were arrested. With my extremely weak college Russian and the help of Google, some of the signs protesters held up said things like the following —

“Homophobia – cover for dictatorship!”

“Homophobia is killing!”

“Discriminating against the minority is oppression of the majority.”

“We don’t need homophobic legislation. Children need nurseries, kindergarten, education.”

That last sign refers to recent legislation, passed in state after state within Russia, banning homosexual “propaganda” from minors. Recent polls indicate that over 70% of the Russian population favors the ban — much like, say, the U.S. in the 1950s. Nikolai has been called the Russian Harvey Milk but he reminds me more of Frank Kameny, for whom announcing “gay is good” was a bold and brash thing to do.

I was really struck by the two young women in the video shown holding up this rainbow flag which reads “Lyubov’ sil’neye” or “love is stronger than.” They were arrested moments later.


May 29th, 2013

I am so proud of the protesters in Russia. The courage to stand up for their convictions and for equality in what they knew was a volatile political environment, and that they would be arrested. I am thankful that we have advanced so far here in the US but my heart aches for other countries in the world that haven’t advanced in this area. Granted we still have plenty of work to do in the US, but public opinion and political opinion is no where near this degree anymore here in the states. Congratulations to those who stood firm. My thoughts, prayers and heart is with you!

Timothy Kincaid

May 29th, 2013

Some day there will be a statue of Alekseev and he’ll be hailed as a hero of the people against an oppressive regime.


May 30th, 2013

I was really struck by the two young women in the video shown holding up this rainbow flag which reads “Lyubov’ sil’neye” or “love is stronger than.” They were arrested moments later.

I’ll guess that the sense of it is “(our/the) Love is stronger” (than your hate and rejection).

These people are heroes.

Social attitudes in much of Eastern Europe seem to roughly resemble those in the West in the 1940s and 1950s.


May 30th, 2013

Yes, cd, I believe it is just “love is stronger” in this case (The “than” idea is contained not in the verb, but in the Genitive case of the object, which is only implicit in this case).

By the way, one my Russian friends got charged with “shouting slogans” among other things in his arrest report; we joked that it was the newest administrative offence in Russia (here is that page of the arrest report for those who understand Russian).

But the way, he says he didn’t really shout those slogans, which he only regrets. You can see him holding the rainbow sign in the police vehicle at about 2:12 in the video.

Randy, your translations of the slogans are mostly accurate. A little correction: “Children need nurseries, kindergartens and FREE education.”
The yellow sign at 2:25 says “Homophobia kills indiscriminately”. My guess is that it might have to do with what the next person said, “A young man was murdered in Volgograd quite recently, and it doesn’t matter if he was or wasn’t gay”; he was murdered for homophobic reasons”. There is a lot in what they say that is worth translating, but translating spoken Russian into written English is not an easy task for my Bulgarian brain.

It’s not just the local laws against “gay propaganda”; there is a federal draft law waiting to be adopted in its second reading by the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament.

randy r. potts

June 3rd, 2013

Thanks Darina, my Russian is pretty weak and any help is MUCH appreciated. Seems that in Russia gays are being used for what they have too often been used for historically, as a signifier to the populace that the government has things under control while, thankfully, it never really does. Kick the gays to distract from the very real, broad political unrest throughout the country. Nice work, Putin

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