The Change.org website has begun collecting signatures for a petition demanding to ban the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg. In two days, 70 people signed the petition. The Side by Side event was included in the list of festivals planned for this year, approved by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Olga Lyubimova. The corresponding order on holding the event was published on the website of the Ministry of Culture, according to “Nevskie Novosti”. The text of the document states that in total, 163 film festivals are planned to be held in Russia in 2021, including “Side by Side”. The event is expected to take place from 11 to 25 November.
Press secretary of the Minister of Culture of Russia Anna Usacheva in an interview with Sputnik radio confirmed the existence of a departmental order for a number of events, but categorically denied information from some media outlets about Olga Lyubimova’s alleged personal supervision of a particular festival:
In November last year, the district court of St. Petersburg approved the decision of Rospotrebnadzor to terminate the activities of Side by Side in Pirogov Lane. Then the department stated that the organizers could not hold the event in compliance with the current sanitary restrictions.