Russia’s new scapegoats
In light of recent reports about Chechnya’s anti-gay kidnappings, torture and killings, Reveal revisits stories that expose what it’s like to be gay in Russia. Right now, hateful rhetoric against the LGBT community appears on a daily basis on Russian TV and in speeches by Russian politicians. Reveal traces the roots of the anti-gay movement and shows how President Vladimir Putin uses this agenda to quash political dissent, exert influence on neighboring nations and bash the West.
Head over to revealnews.org for more of our reporting.
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Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:
the in the the the the Center for investigative reporting and PR ex this does reveal a ballot you should go sch cough knows what it's like to be gay in Rush had to beef because of their WiFi will be beaten up and kill because I had before some physical abuse violence fled Russia in two thousand fifteen he was twenty nine years old I pack my suitcase and left country for the United States but even he was shocked when he heard reports of police in the Russian republic of Chechnya rounding of gay men and torturing the head of Chechnya opened up some sort of our concentration camps where they do it if we do stuff like beaten them by collector show trying to actually rape them trying to keep them up until they painted the The Independent newspaper that no VA has yet to build this to a few weeks ago I reported the Chechen police have detained and tortured more than one hundred gay men and that three people have been killed we spoke to Svetlana the heart of the LGBT Network in St Petersburg who confirms what the paper found the report involved like hundreds of people detained and tortured and in the end of March we crazy to call Klein especially for people in Jesus' yoke with Rafe was a life and by knowledge of sixty people conducted us and those people at the incredible stories said Lana says Chechnya is an old traditional society with strong Islamic values Russia itself is a better home for the race but could share is for will be foiled this verse is a worse place to leave because it's absolutely impossible not only to be LGBT activists but it's impossible to be publicly opened again there she says in Chechnya having a gay relative is seen as a stain on the entire family or clan such single honor killing in Tish yet and it means that family members consider to Kiel course actual person because this person for too much shame on the wall family but now it's like a campaign against homosexual people that local authorities say the whole story is made up and claim homosexuals don't even exist in the region said Linus group is helping people flee Chechnya and Russia which is dangerous work so basically we organize immigration process of being the great people from Chechnya first to fall from Siri Jen and then we provide recommendation medical support of course psychological support because people are scared to death and to also try to organize immigration outside of Russia but she will tell us exactly how they do it we keep this information is a top secret for security reasons because of the creation process is still going and we don't want to put at additional risk those people who are stealing church and who want to get around them that's Willie ocean how he works with a group called Russa LGBT in New York City they'll people who fled Russia and neighboring countries including some people from Chechnya it seems like life for the LGBT community in Russia is tough but in Chechnya it's brutal vocal right when I got to know some people from there they told me stories you will not believe because yes you experienced violence and some you know government watching you bought what is happening in sch now we get people who are so afraid to hand out this so afraid they don't use any on internet because it could be checked by the government they are invisible totally before he fled Russia Leo she was working as university professor he was openly gay he says everything change when Vladimir Putin pushed through a repressive anti gay propaganda law in two thousand and fourteen all of the governing body like secret police will turn to us and tried to thread tried to suppress our activities and are when I gots those programs that my new years he and some articles chemo believe in myself and my colleagues for sprayed inside the media and propaganda of the few the eye and astute that it was the critical and hard hats and if Leo she thinks that Putin's campaign against the LGBT community also led to the attacks on gay men in Chechnya I believe saw its number one reason because otherwise without the green light from the federal government they never will do it they know it never failed to weed out the infield to be punished to be persecuted it's literally baking Book and the costs The The The The first reported last fall on how dangerous it is to be gay in Russia with Koda story a new media venture that does in debt Crisis reporting we'll revisit the stores today starting with reporter Amy MacKinnon takes is to St Petersburg the tickets were perfect and I was packing my bag when I received a message from a friend in St Petersburg journalists to meet recently Ken had been martyred crushing a dangerous place for journalists over the years dozens have been killed for getting on the wrong side of corrupt politicians and gang bosses but this explanation just didn't fit for Dmitri he was an arts reporter he reviews the city's ballet and opera Demetrius friends and local media believe that Dimitri was killed because he was gay when I arrive in St Petersburg to seek out to meet his friends and colleagues to find out more about what happened touchdown a mosque Lena was best friends with Dimitri since college when I meet her at her home she is visibly still in shock oh ya when I try and imagine that our needs intelligent Dimitri was killed with a knife in the tide the apartment where have been he cleaned it twice a week everything has placed books CDs and a vase of flowers was carefully placed on the windowsill I cannot imagine that a positive card and love to put to the police believe Dimitri met his killer on an online dating site that invites the man to his apartment homophobic vigilantes have been known to prowl the sites during game and women out on dates only to humiliate attack or even kill them when the police found him each day he was lying in pools Bloods with multiple stab wounds his killer had taken his cell phone his laptop and house keys leaving him traps to bleed to death in his own home by the time the touch and a place of the arrested twenty one year old students of gay culture of on suspicion of murder local media reported that your increased questioning he said that his life was quote a crusade against certain social groups and that he asked me refer to as the cleaner costumes lawyer has dismissed the statement is total nonsense but I can't believe the police got their guy the case is closed she tells me with a heavy sigh imagine all his life to be true wrote about art and culture and he ended up in the crying pages goes the offices of St Petersburg still avoid were to meet she worked for years is the city's leading business newspaper and is well known for its independence stance when I meet was to meet his editor another teaching me she cost me he blames politicians in state owned media for stirring up this hatred cause ice to press Russia now there is such a concentrated amount of hatred at any given time you can just turn on the TV and watch the news Sir Wally and the firemen and hate what they tell people to pay down a bus and unfortunately it's directed towards gay people I had Isaac Square Plaza and the center of the city is emblematic of St Petersburg Imperial style and is dominated by men in ski palace built by sign necklace as a gift to his daughter is now home to St Petersburg city legislature I'm here to meet a member of the assembly Italy Milano in twenty twelve he became the face of homophobia here and he masterminded the city's infamous gay propaganda law law is so vaguely worded and bizarre that it can be difficult to explain it's based on the assumption that LGBT people propaganda lies to children I suppose the spreading their ideas to them the law prohibits any public trails of LGBT issues any positive or even neutral way so that means no articles in magazines no gay characters on TV no support for LGBT kids in school nothing the St Petersburg law paved the way for nationwide ban one year later the lawn of is also the guy he said that gay athletes could be arrested the twenty fourteen Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia he's a busy man but he readily agrees to meet me in his office while I wait to chat to some of his staff members to give interns and his assistant Yulia I ask them what they think of their bosses sponsorship of the gay propaganda law liked it the spring's first they like the sunshine beautiful the just in case you didn't catch that he is comparing homophobia to spring's first day he says it is a beautiful thing like a rainbow to get the signal the meal on Ava's ready and showed his office now before I continue I just wanna give a quick heads up the lawn of is known for making controversial statements I'm expecting to hear some of the slurs and hate speech that he is infamous for his shift uncomfortably in his chair and scarcely makes eye contact during our interview the two it was necessary to introduce a bill we have to face more teachers were of factors will present world like homosexual propaganda which is disgusting immoral disease both Morgan and to Christian society Milano is a devoutly religious man was of his room are lined with religious icons of Black Flag which reads orthodoxy or death hangs behind his desk there is no nationwide monitoring of hate crimes committed against LGBT people and Russia local and international rights groups piece together what they can both reported a sharp increase in homophobic and transfer that violence is the gay propaganda law was passed human Rights Watch claims this violence on the anti gay rhetoric coming from politicians and state media ask me a lot of what he makes of this years race porch is that she may say I'm sorry for my French and we have no serious figures of persons who know violence against homosexuals there is quite the number of criminal cases that are connected with the human homosexuals because many homosexuals at the same time they luff little kids to have an evidence for absence it's it's just the statistics this anti gay myth is standard rhetoric not just in Russia but anywhere that people are attacking the LGBT community and in St Petersburg these kind of statements have inspired violence against LGBT people the kind of violence the police believe ledge the murder of Dimitri sleek and which ask about next well I give you a very recent example here's some pictures to come I'm sure you've heard about the murder of journalist meets in the King who was stopped in his apartment the This was mostly the the young man who was hit in this case local media have reported that he was admirer of yours this guy what happened with this cold all this called faggot get acquainted with the intent with the young guy if he invited him to his house to rape him sleep at least the main reason for this invitation was sexually harassed but that's not what the police believe that all they think that the suspected murderer set up to date with Dimitri with the intention to kill him my interview with me a lot of goes on for awhile and he continues to spout their hate filled propaganda to Stern's this cultured city and the epi center of the anti gay movement in Russia the the next day and managed to set up an interview with one of the city's most infamous anti gay vigilantes the mood a lot of like Dimitri suspected killer he also calls himself The cleaner Blatter has not been known to be violent but he does seek to destroy the livelihoods of LGBT people by combing through social media accounts of St Petersburg teachers singling out the ones he suspects of being gay and reporting them to their schools the Greece me that his office in the district council building but as I'm in the taxi on my way there he messages me with a different meeting point this last minutes which makes me nervous we meet at his rented office a cramped and claustrophobic room the rest of the building seems to be empty of the walk and I know it is a camera set up tripods food he can film whatever happens next lot of the assistant tall man in a roll neck sweatshirts it's in the corner of the room and fixes a silent stare on us the feeling that maybe I've been set up doesn't seem so paranoid anymore given how many journalists have been attacked for the reporting here in Russia I asked a lot of to introduce himself and he jumps straight to the point was an emotional fight for the unifying moral issues of traditional family values for faith was a filing to fight for statehood lass who is deeply proud of his work and boasts about how many teachers he claims to have gotten fired me and lets you chose it was like when I but now it's more like he's some with the scandal went to the courts use the more prudent terrorists understand that promotion chose the prison cells thankfully no one union is not actually illegal in Russia the teacher if you're gay but if a teacher is publicly out to the stigma is so strong they won't last long in their position lot of speaks with such a single minded hatred of LGBT people at one point he actually breaks out into sweat my ass could be things of the attacks on LGBT people in the city he says he doesn't condone violence against homosexuals but he certainly doesn't condemn it either why act so well thank you and the wily old is talking about gay people as we can while and took him all the actions of these homosexuals lesbians and feminists what they do to broker actually Africa interview I know sis handgun sitting on the table next time I'm too afraid to ask whats for the time I leave I am so on head to head straight to dive bar across the street and settle my nerves with a shot of vodka glass the interviews over but it's not long before I bump into the lot of again time here's the bird on the fifteenth of April is actually Day of silence dissidents national day use by LGBT activists in many countries cut day for members for people who've been killed or harassed or bullied for being gay activists organized a meeting here in sentencing her to come train station the events like this a while to the floor cleans house is going to go to this already very police presence can see a truck on the course is the the the ER doc took to be made yesterday has turned out to disrupt the event he's got three with a toy rat tiny office tries holding rainbow flags and he's walking around telling people watching this these are perverts the groups of two dozen or so young activists and watch them put duct tape over their mouths it's a symbolic gesture of silence a walk down the city's Main Street yes keep respect along the way I got chatting to mark an activist for local LGBT group called coming out Mark's job today's document any acts of hate speech or homophobic violence the demonstration as a transgender person himself Mark is this an even greater risk of being harassed or attacked on the street he tells me that today's protest someone has already verbally attacked one of the act of the the just the the the future ya he will speak in jest some government propaganda the way our country has traditions you have no place here is a frightening know the net now I was never threatened before no not dead and my friends committed a suicide the homophobia that and assumed that silence will not help anyone and I must speak for myself and for those who can open his big toe just moments after we speak the Pre show up with a loudspeaker time one of the protest is illegal in Russia to host any kind of protest or demonstration which involves more than just one person to have to go to the citizens get a special permit the owl know where the crease brush and the protesters and wind knocked against the wall some of them stands or mouse still taped up in silence to others trying these in the police and seemingly random seven of activists are just picked out of the lineup and taken away to police vans parked around the corner in the next day head down to one of the city's small LGBT community centers is in the heart of the city but tucked away in a basement on marked you'd never guess it was here the increase by a veteran of the city's LGBT activist movement Alex a disaster we don't use his last name and fear he could be targeted is a humble face three rooms and hardly any furniture but despite their tiny budgets they've done what they can make it cozy a number of young activists from the center were arrested in yesterday's demonstration their charge two hundred dollars each for participating in a non sanctioned protest that's a small fortune in a country where the national minimum wage is just one hundred and nine dollars per month gathered here tonight to discuss what happened yesterday they asked for privacy I step into the next room to chat like saying it's very important toss to protect the rights to be holy awe a test for me have got so much the memories of help to the people around her tongue it's been a long week in St Petersburg and I'm exhausted while the hatred I have seen when asked say if he is hopeful future says he does hope to do the uh the I The despite everything that's going on he speaks with such determination such optimism in his voice begins to cry on threes but my optimism helps me to believe that a person will be good sooner or later the knot in the house not in three years by ingredients of a soon to mention the report was from Amy MacKinnon of code story says the story first aired Sir J Co's ref plea guilty to murdering journalists to me to reach the murder investigation concluded that the chewing was and he cried just a result of a quarrel remember Vitale Millen off use the controversial local politician that Amy spoke with well he's gone on to become a member of the Russian national parliament the past couple months has made headlines for anti Semitism one to investigate the Freemasons and suggesting the new Power Rangers movie the band the crackdown on the gay community in St Petersburg became a blueprint for Vladimir Putin's National Policy a policy that is finding support from religious activists in our own backyard that's next on revealed from the Center for investigative reporting and PR X The The The The Today Show sponsored by tax base the on line therapy company for as little as thirty two dollars a week you can work with an experienced licensed therapist can pack just for you on tax bases and text audio and video messages to your therapist and talk about your life or just work on getting a little bit happier to sign up or learn more that a tax based on com slash trivia and to show your support for this podcast use code revealed the thirty dollars off your first month that's code reveal tax base to pounce last reveal the the the the the the Center for investigative reporting in Tokyo acts this is revealed well it's the kind of gay bashing we just heard about is not as happening in St Petersburg over the past few years it's become common across Russia even in some neighboring countries and here to help us understand why this is happening is that I answer love from Kota story a partner the steps of work to tell you thanks good to be you so the ex gay movement is is this a product of zealous local politicians or something bigger than that I think you know this was one of the things that we were trying to understand when we started this deep dive into what we call the LGBT Christ says in Russia in the neighboring countries trying to understand what is said that is truly driving it and yes while the violence is being carried out by local vigilantes seeking of people who have always hated gays some of the question we really wanted to answer is like why now why they went gays being attacked to this extends back in the nineteen nineties when the crime was much higher in Russia than today so what what is it that's making it such an issue now and I think one of the things that we found out is that really this hatred against gay people and goes all the way back up to the Kremlin and to Vladimir Putin now does it have to do with Vladimir Putin's image of being a very manly man is it something they just pushed against because you know LGBT doesn't really jive with him riding around with no shirt on and wrestling bears and the type of thing well sure that's part of it for sure you know we we know the public persona of puts and that is protected I think the question is also like weather is put in homophobic himself and I personally I don't thing that he is because there are plenty of people in his government who are gay so no I don't think he's an I don't think he's personally this is only a homophobe so if it's not homophobia than what is I think it's some pretty clever of Politico thinking and strategizing because I think what Vladimir Putin has managed to do is turn homophobia into an instrument for strengthening his power to understand how he did at the one thing that we need to understand is what happened in Russia in twenty eleven And I hear that you play you this bit of OD of the uh uh uh uh so what's happened years ago rite Aid is a ride it's the sound of the Russian police clashing with protesters back in twenty eleven and piecing them with bass and arresting them pushing them into cars this happens after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow after Vladimir Putin's party won parliamentary elections in twenty eleven and opposition back then said that Putin rigged election and stole the victory and the Russians who were already fed up with this deep seated cronyism and corruption in the Russian government decided to come out into the streets and the swear in fact the biggest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union was a massive crackdown on all sorts of deceptions the Western media was very much focused on the anti gay legislation on the once a gay rights rake and that diverted they more than what the media's attention away from They from the real crackdown that was happening to me this trade basically which is saying is this is a bait and switch like he's focusing eyes on the LGBT issue but he's actually arresting democratic protesters who are probably more of a threat to his reign then LGBT people absolutely that's a gay legislation and was in a way a diversion tactic for Port said he calculated that the Western media would become obsess with anti gay legislation which they dead you know there were hundreds and hundreds of stories dedicated to the anti gay legislation and only a handful dedicated to them that real crackdown on dissent that happens so on one hand the anti gay rhetoric coming from the Kremlin certainly un least a very frightening violence against gay people in Russia at the same time it was a little bit of a diversion tactic in order to really clamp down on political dissent that was threatening put since rule so the strategy that Putin's put together seems like it's really working out for him it looks like the asana is incredible that homophobia can be a political strategy but Vladimir Putin seems to prove that it works it worked for him at home he has crushed the Politico this and he has created an enemy at home with that and the gays are seen as an enemy at home and am after an X in Crimea and his intervention in Syria his popularity has soared to the UN precedents is eight to nine percent and what's really interesting in my opinion is that he has also managed to use these on to gay rhetoric this homophobia to spread Russia's influence outside of its borders and it's happening everywhere in the former Soviet Union including the country where I'm based in Georgia where I recently attended the very curious international events the the Knights a very windy day and I am the taxi heading into Tbilisi the capital of Georgia is the main highway that leads from the airport into the city and from the sun to set a pretty regular four lane road