Top Russian gay activist may face lawsuit for 'obscene’ tweets to MPs
A leading activist of the Russian LGBT movement, Nikolay Alekseyev, could face a lawsuit from two female MPs over insults he allegedly used while commenting on the latest legislative initiatives on Twitter.
The head of the State Duma Committee for Women, Families and
Children, Elena Mizulina, and her deputy Olga Batalina claim
Alekseyev has repeatedly insulted them in his tweets by using
Mizulina was one of key sponsors of the recently-passed law banning gay propaganda to minors. The law caused controversy in the Russian community and a wave of criticism from LGBT activists and rights groups worldwide.
Russian daily Izvestia quotes Mizulina on Monday as saying that the MPs requested that the Prosecutor General’s Office start a criminal case into insulting a state authority official – a felony punishable by a fine of up to 40,000 rubles (US$1,200) or up to one year of community service.
The MPs noted that if the case reaches the court they would ask the judge to sentence the gay activist to community service in a place from which "he can't disseminate his gay propaganda", like picking up corpses in a “meat wagon."
“This is the only punishment that could set him right. It will make him understand that his current behavior is nothing like the one of an intelligent and highly cultural person that he poses as,” Mizulina added.
She also said that she held no personal grudge against gay activists, but wanted to protect her colleagues from further insults.
In response to Mizulina’s suggestion, Alekseyev tweeted that he is ready to work in a “meat wagon” if a special car for psychiatric patients is sent to the Duma.
Готов отработать на труповозке если в Думу наконец уже вызовут психовозку.— Nikolai Alexeyev (@n_alexeyev) July 29, 2013
Thirty-four-year-old Alekseyev is one of the best-known leaders
of the Russian LGBT community. He runs the gayrussia.ru web
portal and represents Russia in the InterPride association, which
specializes in gay pride events.
He has contested in the European Court of Human Rights the fresh Russian laws that ban the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.
The activist has also pushed for a gay pride parade to take place in Sochi on the opening day of the 2014 Winter Olympics, in an effort to attract global attention to gay rights violations in Russia.
Alekseyev told reporters on Monday that if he is convicted he would definitely address the European Court of Human Rights. He added that he was absolutely sure that he would win the case in the European court.
Although prosecutors have so far declined official comment, Izvestia quotes its source as saying that Alekseyev could be summoned for questioning in the nearest future and, depending on the outcome, the initiation of a criminal case was possible.
On Monday afternoon, Russia’s main federal law enforcement agency, the Investigative Committee, reported through its website that a criminal case had been started “into insulting a representative of a state authority.”
Though the committee’s report didn’t mention Alekseyev by name, it stated that investigators are looking into May-June web-posts which offended MPs.
The activist mainly used his Twitter account to share links of media reports on LGBT issues, express his own views and cover gay protests in Russia.
I have a feeling more and more that the third world war will start on gay issues. Orthodox "moral" Russia against liberal "perverted" West.— Nikolai Alexeyev (@n_alexeyev) June 26, 2013
Alekseyev usually refrained from using obscenities in his tweets. However, an offensive tweet posted on June 15 – in which he mentioned Mizulina and Batalina - could now land him into trouble.
MPs facing ‘Magnitsky List’
Recently, Russian mass media and internet blogs mentioned
Mizulina in connection with several controversial views and
initiatives. She was harshly criticized for co-authoring and
lobbying a ‘gay propaganda’ law, as well as a bill that bars
Russian children from being adopted by same sex foreign couples.
In the latest instance, Izvestia newspaper reported that Mizulina and her committee readied a bill that would allow websites to be shut down for using obscene words, even if it happened in users’ comments.
Though, Mizulina officially denied the report saying it had nothing to do with reality.
The general negative atmosphere around the MP's lawmaking activities and statements has already yielded results, as US rights activists started a campaign to include Mizulina and another Russian politician known for staunch anti-gay stance – Vitaly Milonov of the St Petersburg city legislature – into the infamous Magnitsky List. The list involves Russian officials who face sanctions in the United States over alleged Human Rights violations.