[Marxism] Russian LGBT Activist Seeks Asylum in Germany

Thomas Campbell avvakum at gmail.com
Wed Dec 3 04:10:00 MST 2014


http://www.sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=100&story_id=41342
LGBT Activist Files for Asylum in Germany
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times

Prominent local LGBT activist Kirill Kalugin announced last week that he
had applied for political asylum in Germany, while an anti-gay crowd in St.
Petersburg assaulted his lawyer later that same day.

“In the course of my internal referendum I took the decision to separate
myself from the Russian Federation and join Germany. That’s about it. Auf
Wiedersehen, Russland. Willkommen in Deutschland,” Kalugin wrote on his
Facebook account on Nov. 25.

Kalugin is best known for his one-man LGBT rights protests on Palace Square
during Paratroopers’ Day on Aug. 2 in 2013 and 2014, which he staged as a
reaction to remarks by officials who mockingly suggested that LGBT rights
activists stage rallies on that day, implying that the protesters would be
beaten by the macho veterans. According to Kalugin, he left Russia on Nov.
16 but did not make a statement until he had made all the necessary
arrangements.

Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times on Sunday, Kalugin said he made the
decision because of persecution from Center “E” counter-extremism police
rather than threats from anti-gay campaigners.

“I made the decision in August, when Center ‘E’ officers attempted to put
me in a car by force,” Kalugin said. “I told them that if they wanted to
speak to me, they should send me a notice. They replied that a notice is
sent only when there is a criminal case, but if that’s what I wanted, then
they would open one.”

President Vladimir Putin launched the Center “E” police department in 2008
allegedly to fight extremism, but its officers are reported to be present
at protest rallies and dealing with activists.

According to Kalugin, the local Center “E” has officers who deal
specifically with LGBT rights activists.

“There was a certain Dmitry among those three [officers], who goes to all
the protests on a regular basis and who visited me at the police station,
where they held me after the Aug. 2 protest,” he said.

He pointed out that his emigration was not caused by threats from anti-gay
activists.

“These Orthodox activists have threatened me for three years and usually
these threats don’t go any further,” he said.

Kalugin said he first came in contact with Center “E” in 2013 when either
anti-gay lawmaker Vitaly Milonov or his aide, Anatoly Artyukh, who chairs
the local branch of the Orthodox nationalist organization People’s
Assembly, reported him to the Investigations Committee for alleged
extremism.

“I did not know yet that the officers were from Center ‘E’; they took me to
the Investigations Committee and I was questioned there. The case did not
work then and they threw it away after I said I did not plan either to
offend anybody or incite anything,” Kalugin said.

“My position is that I was not going to cooperate or communicate with this
agency because I know that it was created specifically to put obstacles in
the way of activists and opposition. The thing is that there are LGBT
activists who communicate and cooperate with them. But I don’t support this
position and they apparently don’t like it.”

Kalugin said that the situation for LGBT activism has worsened following
the annexation of Crimea and the massive anti-Western campaign in the
Russian media.

“In the beginning we tried to get through to people and say that the
authorities were deceiving them, that LGBT people are not guilty of
anything, and that elections get rigged. Now, with the annexation of the
Crimea and the total support for the current president, it’s obvious that
people are not very eager to listen and understand what is happening,”
Kalugin said.

“Many people write to me saying, ‘Why did you leave? Now when oil prices
collapse, people will reconsider their views and changes will start.’ But I
think that they will simply start to think with their empty stomach, rather
than with the television as they do now, and a revolt of the hungry has
nothing to do with change.”

Nevertheless, Kalugin said that he would have remained active in Russia if
it had not been for the pressure from Center “E”.

“I simply did not want to wait until they produced some criminal case,” he
said. “They could put me in prison for blocking Nevsky Prospekt with
feminists. They took me to a police station then and told me obstructing
traffic on a public road was a criminal offense.”

According to Kalugin, he has been placed in a social house in Detmold,
North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany until the decision is made by
authorities, which can take up to several months.

Later on Nov. 25, Kalugin’s lawyer Vitaly Cherkasov, who works with the
human rights organization Agora, was assaulted outside the Lomonovsky
District Court, where his lawsuit against the police for what Kalugin sees
as an illegal arrest on Aug. 2 was heard. Members of a group headed by
Artyukh sprinkled Cherkasov with a strong-smelling liquid from syringes.
Cherkasov said the liquid had a caustic smell and made him feel dizzy.

The attack took place after the hearing, where the judge ruled that the
police acted lawfully in preventing Kalugin from standing with a rainbow
flag on Palace Square but taking him to a police station was illegal.

Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times earlier this week, Cherkasov said he
would appeal the ruling, because Kalugin’s protest was legal, unlike the
actions of anti-gay activist Timur Isayev, who tried to seize the flag and
shouted “Russia is hell for homosexuals.” The fact that it was Kalugin, but
not Isayev, who was immediately detained indicates that Isayev might have
been acting as a police provocateur, Cherkasov said.

“On the video submitted to the court by the Fontanka.ru website we see how
after Kalugin was put in a police vehicle and taken away, Isayev is talking
to police officers, which looks like he is giving a report to them,”
Cherkasov said. “Later, Isayev was seen at the police station filing a
report against Kalugin.” No charges against Kalugin were pressed, however.

“A police officer should have undertaken a series of actions before
detaining Kalugin, according to the police code,” Cherkasov said. “Instead,
we see in the video how Isayev runs to Kalugin, grabs his flag and starts
to tug it, and immediately officers run to Kalugin, twist his arms and take
him away, without introducing themselves or explaining their reasons or
asking him what he was doing.” According to Cherkasov, Isayev failed to
appear at the trial despite being sent three subpoenas.

Regarding the attack, Cherkasov said that eight to ten anti-gay activists
came to the court hearing on Nov. 25, making comments and hindering the
session. Cherkasov said Artyukh looked like he was the leader of the group.

“I saw the generator of all ideas in him, because he was the noisiest, most
active, most uncontrollable, and bailiffs had to use a lot of strength to
calm him down. I believe he was in command,” he said.

Cherkasov said he had reported the attack to the police, asking them to
open a criminal case over an assault by a group of people.

Artyukh denied any involvement in the attack and claimed he would sue
Cherkasov for his accusations, Fontanka.ru reported on Nov. 25. “Of course,
I asked him if he was in relationship with Kalugin. If it scared him so
much, what can I do about it?” Artyukh was quoted as saying.

On Nov. 24, it became known that Artur Akhmetgaliyev, a reporter with the
local channel 100 TV, and his partner Nikolai Izmailov, the channel’s
designer, had also applied for political asylum in Germany. Akhmetgaliyev
said he was repeatedly threatened by phone and at LGBT rights protests for
covering LGBT issues.

Earlier this year, Natalya Tsymbalova, the coordinator of the Straight
Alliance for LGBT Equality, applied for political asylum in Spain while
local activist Dmitry Chizhevsky, who lost sight in one eye in an attack at
an LGBT community center on Nov. 3, 2013, applied for political asylum in
the U.S.

______

Translation of an interview with Kirill Kalugin from 2013:

https://therussianreader.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/kirill-kalugin-my-freedom-defends-yours/



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