russia_soviet_style_spying_on_gay_activistsIt’s come to light that the Russian authorities are conducting Soviet-era style spying on LGBT groups.

According to BuzzFeed, activists only discovered they were being spied on when audio from a private October meeting in St. Petersburg was broadcast on state television as “proof” of gay activists’ “threat to Russia”.

Broadcast on Tuesday, the few minutes of audio is of local and foreign LGBT and human rights activists discussing strategies around promoting LGBT equality during the upcoming Winter Olympics.

The voices are heard talking about their frustration that Olympic sponsors have not been vocal enough about condemning Russia’s gay propaganda law. The issue of increasing foreign pressure on the government when it comes to LGBT rights is also discussed.

A journalist on the programme, Alexander Buzaladze, warned of “massive LGBT propaganda” and said that the audio confirms that “the attack on Russia is already in full-swing”.

Human Rights Watch’s Director of Global Initiatives Minky Worden, who was in the meeting, told BuzzFeed: “This is blatant targeting of gay activists for Soviet-like surveillance, and then using material selectively to stoke an anti-gay campaign broadcast to millions across Russia….

“It really ought to make the IOC and the Olympic sponsors — plus Olympic athletes and other governments — profoundly nervous because it gives the lie to the so-called ‘assurances’ by the Russian Government and the IOC that the anti-gay law will not be enforced during the Olympic Games.”

Meanwhile, a Russian newspaper is in trouble with the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service (FMMIS) simply for reporting on a geography teacher, Alexander Yermoshkin, who was fired for being openly gay.

The media watchdog said that the newspaper was promoting homosexuality when it included a quote by the teacher in which he said: “My very existence is effective proof that homosexuality is normal.”

The Guardian reported that the FMMIS said in a letter to the newspaper that “this statement goes against logic. By offering it to underage readers, the author is misleading them about the normality of homosexuality.”

If found guilty of contravening Russia’s gay propaganda law, the newspaper could be fined and closed for up to 90 days.

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