Today is Russian Airborne Troops Day, an annual military pride celebration which traditionally involves gaggles of soldiers spilling into public square for merriment, flag waving, wallowing in public fountains and miscellaneous public drunkenness. This year, they have a new hobby. If anyone has any confusion about what Russia’s recently-adopted anti-gay laws do to its public, let me translate some of the audible dialogue in the video above, captured by PaperPaper.ru.
A young man decides to picket in Palace Square. He stands there alone with a rainbow flag, knowingly breaking this summer’s new anti-”gay propaganda” bill. UPDATE: His name is Kirill Kalugin and his rainbow banner read “This is propagating tolerance.”
A large group of current Airborne service members (striped-tank tops) circle around him and their leader starts the guerilla interrogation.
“What are you doing here on Airborne Army Day?”
“I am picketing,” he says, trying to keep on his feet while being manhandled by the group.
“Well, we do not agree with this and ask you to stop this sort of action and your one-man picket.” They begin to push him around. He falls.
“Oh, look he slipped and fell. Don’t do that,” the soldier says, performatively at the journalists trying to get closer. The man is visibly frightened as the soldiers form a chain around him and began to chant, smacking their fists into their palms.
“CALL THE POLICE ON HIM,” someone jeer. “STAND RIGHT THERE,” a few yell. The police arrive (blue shirts, police hats) and attempt to drag the man out of the circle, so the soldiers move closer, blocking their access and pushing them away.
“What the fuck were you thinking, showing up at Palace Square, faggot?” the leader yells.
“You guys are animals,” the protestor rasps, while another soldier chokes him and shakes him by his neck. As the cops try to remove the illegally protesting young man, the soldiers start shoving them and throwing punches. In the next shot, they encircle the police vehicle — “We’re not going to let them fucking move anywhere.” — after their leader tries to get into the cruiser and drag the protestor out, yelling, “Why are you defending him?!”
Russian special forces arrive (“OMOH” jackets), as things are clearly getting out of hand. They start putting the drunken soldiers into detention buses and more fights break out between the soldiers and the police.
“They took our guys. They attacked our guys!” A soldier screams.
“It’s our job,” a cop replies, apologetically.
“We don’t stand by your provocations,” they scream at the car. Then, the drunken leader proceeds to rant at the camera about the “evil darkness” of “the bitches” in Russia and how bothered “we, normal human men” are by their sheer existence. “This is evil. Putin is fag and the rest of it is all shit. The entire country is on its knees. We are Russians!” In the background, a soldier screams at a cop, “Why are you not ticketing the faggot parade?” Then, the soldiers start attacking journalists and smacking down their cameras.
This video comes our way from the popular Russian LiveJournal blog of Ilya Varlamov, a photojournalist whose work we admire greatly, including his coverage off the day when the anti-”gay propaganda” bill was passed and kids, thugs and Christian extremists attacked a small group of peaceful protestors in Moscow. It is very disappointing to read his statement, accompanying the video, if even the one man we’re used to seeing at every protest is confused.
I’m curious what the LGBT thinks about actions like this? I think these provocations do more harm than good for the LGBT society? Who needed this provocation? It wasn’t spontaneous. Journalists were invited. And what if this fool was accidentally killed? Some drunk man-child could have punched him in the head, and that’s it. Lives of several people would have been ruined. Seriously, I do not understand such actions. Who from my readers is LGBT? How do you feel about this?
Since answering him is technically illegal, I don’t see what response he is expecting, so let me do this now from way over here: (1) Challenging a law that infringes upon your very existence is not “a provocation.” It is civic and social duty. (2) Media action is necessary to draw international attention to the Human Rights crisis in a country that’s about to host the Olympics, where the anti-gay laws will be applied to everyone, to at least, warn people if not to inspire action. (3) I’m sorry, if the “man-child” had killed “this fool,” his life deserves to be “ruined.” That’s what laws are meant to do: Punish murderers and violent criminals, not persecute “LGBT society,” which by the way, doesn’t live in the Big Gay Village out in Magadan Oblast… Their “society” is part of your society. They’re your coworkers, your family and your friends.