Anti-Gay Russian hate group founder flees to Cuba
|Martsinkevich in Havana, Cuba, December 2013 via VK.com|
By Brody Levesque | HAVANA -- The founder of the anti-gay Russian extremist group, “Occupy Pedophilia,” has fled Ukraine, where he was hiding- avoiding prosecution by Russian law enforcement authorities for a series of several criminal homophobic assaults against LGBTQ people, and is now believed by Russian law enforcement officials to be hiding in the Cuban capital.
Maxim Sergeyevich Martsinkevich, is also wanted by prosecutors from the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol, for an assault against a former contestant of the Ukrainian franchise of the British talent competition, “The X Factor,” last month.
In a phone conversation Friday, a member of Russia's security services told LGBTQ Nation that Russian law enforcement has confirmed that Martsinkevich is in fact in the Caribbean island nation, however the official- speaking on condition of anonymity- declined to say whether Russian authorities would be asking the Castro government to extradite Martsinkevich.
Martsinkevich claimed on his Russian social media VKontakte page he was in Cuba as early as December 10. An consular official with the Cuban mission in New York told LGBTQ Nation that according to the visa agreement between Russia and Cuba, Russians are allowed to stay without a visa for 30 days. The official did point out that Friday [today] would be the last day possible for Martsinkevich to remain legally without a petition to the Cuban government for a status change other than that of simple tourist. He declined comment on Martsinkevich's situation.
Martsinkevich also claimed on his VK.com page that he flew from Kyiv, Ukraine to Havana via Frankfurt, Germany. The Russian official noted that there is an active Interpol warrant for his detention and law enforcement officials suspect he is traveling on a false or altered passport. "This may be how he [ Martsinkevich ] avoided detection and arrest in Kyiv and by German authorities," the official told LGBTQ Nation.
Russian authorities initiated criminal proceedings in November against Martsinkevich for several homophobic assaults on LGBT persons inside the Russian federation by his group, which included attacks on citizens from Ukraine, Iraq, and South Africa. He has been charged under Part 1 of article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, Incitement of ethnic and social hatred. The charge is punishable by a sentence of 3–5 years imprisonment if convicted.
Martsinkevich and his followers believe that being gay equates to being a pedophile, and boast via their social media pages that they are on the “hunt” for pedophiles to eliminate this “deviant filth” from Russian society.
His group has produced numerous videos on the Russian social media giant VK.com as well as YouTube, documenting violent and homophobic harassment of men and gay youth the group claims were seeking to have sex with boys.
The graphic videos often go viral and have also been used to humiliate gay teenagers who responded to false dating invitations from what they thought were other gay youth in chat rooms.
Russian Orthodox Church official calls for re-criminalizing homosexual relations
|Rev. V. Chaplin speaking before the Duma 2012|
By Mark Singer | MOSCOW -- An spokesperson for Russia's powerful Orthodox Church called on the Russian government Friday to reintroduce Soviet-era laws banning homosexual relations. Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin pointed out that recent polls show that greater than half of the adult populace of the Russian Federation views homosexuality as either an illness or a crime.
"There is no question that society should discuss this issue since we live in a democracy," Chaplin said adding, "For this reason, it is precisely the majority of our people and not some outside powers that should decide what should be a criminal offence and what should not."
Chaplin said that the proposal to ban LGBT relations reflects a firm defense of traditional values many Russians view as coming under attack from both European nations as well as the United States.
Last year, the Russian Duma approved a ban on what it termed “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” targeted at minors. A companion law banning the international adoption of Russian children by citizens in countries that recognize same-sex unions quickly followed, Both were immediately signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chaplin and others in the church hierarchy don't feel that the laws goes far enough.
"I am convinced that such sexual contacts should be completely excluded from the life of our society," he said. "If we manage to do this through moral pressure, all the better. But if we need to revert to assistance from the law, then let us ask the people if they are ready for this."
Chaplin, who heads the church's Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, also warned that the legalization of same-sex unions in other countries will lead to the fall of Western civilization within the next 50 years.
Russian and global LGBTQ rights activists warn that the laws and resulting political climate have thrown the country’s LGBT community into a state of fear, essentially freezing their free-speech rights and the ability to live freely without fear of societal homophobic reprisals.
A member of Vladimir Putin's ruling party and a Deputy of the State Duma, Pavel Krasheninnikov disagreed with Chaplin's call to reinstate the Soviet era law; "It is absolutely clear that such a law will not be adopted -- in part because of our international obligations," he said referring to the European Convention on Human Rights of which Russia is signatory nation.
The Soviet Union had criminalized homosexuality in 1934 at the height of pogroms promulgated by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin that saw millions of Soviet citizens die in prison camps. The law was repealed in 1993 by the government of then president Boris Yeltsin. "We have moved on from those times," Krasheninnikov added.
While acceptance of gays increased in the 1990s, a poll conducted last fall by the Levada-Center- a Russian independent, non-governmental polling and sociological research organisation- indicated that 74 percent of the population believes that society should not accept homosexuality. The polls results revealed that only one in five Russians believe that people are actually born gay while one-third polled said homosexuality should be treated medically and 13 percent backed the idea of making it a crime.