|Courtesy of Elena Klimova|
By Brody Levesque | NIZHNY TAGIL, Russia -- A Russian court in Nizhny Tagil on Friday terminated the administrative case against freelance journalist Elena Klimova, founder of the "Children-404 project," ruling that it found no evidence that she had been promoting "non-traditional sexual relations." Klimova had created the website as an online LGBT teen support group on Russian social media website VKontakte (vk.com).
The case had been brought after the virulently anti-gay St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonow filed a complaint last month alleging that he considered that the letters from teens who are exposed to violence and harassment because of their sexual orientation that were published on the website are "gay propaganda" and violated Russia's law banning promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations."
Milonow demanded the closure of the project and fines for Klimova.
In an e-mail statement Klimova said;
"The Court [hearing] went perfectly. The judge listened to me, a lawyer (Maria Kozlovsky), my expert witness (Dmitry Vinokurov, Director, Center for Family Therapy and Counseling) and decided to dismiss the case due to the absence of corpus delicti. Of course, I am very glad, because I expected the worst."
The name of Klimova's group is a play on the Internet universal protocol “Error 404, Page Not Found,” inferring that LGBT Russian youth are unable to be visible. (Klimova maintains a “Children 404″ page on Facebook as well.)
On the “Children 404″ page, LGBT teens share personal stories, and converse about their problems. Often, they write about about bullying by peers and misunderstanding by parents. To date, more than one thousand letters have been published.
“At least every third LGBT teenager in Russia thought about suicide, and at least every fifth tried to commit suicide at least once,” said Klimova. “As reason for suicidal thoughts, teenagers name internal homophobia, physical and psychological abuse (including outing) from relatives and acquaintances.”
“Most often suicidal thoughts arise if a teenager is lonely and has nobody to talk to and to trust. On the contrary, those with reliable friends or accepting parents almost never think about suicide,” she said.