Russia cancels youth festival for promoting LGBTI agenda.

Festival organizers also received death threats.

Children rehearsing for the Pink and Blue play in Russia | Photo: Vk

Police hauled the organizer of a youth festival in Russia in for questioning as she received online death threats.

Yulia Tsvetkova put together the Colour of Saffron festival in the far eastern town of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Due to run this weekend, local authorities cancelled the event over concerns one of the plays in the festival promoted a ‘LGBTI agenda’.

The play called Blue and Pink featured teenage actors and discussed gender. But the colors blue and pink are often represent the gay and lesbian community in Russia.

A police anti-extremism unit questioned Tsvetkova and the child actors in the lead up to the festival. Authorities accused her of subversive activity and promoting ‘hatred against men and non-traditional family relations’.

But Tsvetkova told a local media source the festival featured no LGBTI content.

‘Pink and blue are seen as typically “male” and “female colors”, that’s it,’ she said.

‘That’s what the play is about, the name was suggested by one of the actors, a 11-year-old child.’

The Colour of Saffron festival | Photo: Vk

In 2013 Russian president, Vladimir Putin, passed the ‘gay propaganda law’ which banned ‘information promoting the denial of traditional family values’ and ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’. Activists argued the law censored the LGBTI community.

Its introduction has led to a vast increase of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attacks. Support groups for LGBTI minors have been shut down, gay festivals have been raided and attack groups torturing and murdering LGBTI people have surfaced.

On Friday (15 March), authorities told festival organisers it would not be going ahead. They accused Tsvetkova of importing ‘corruption and persecution’ from Europe.

‘Our director Julia is accused of living in Europe and bringing out corruption and propaganda from there,’ festival directors wrote on Russian social media site, VKontakte (VK).

‘We will look for how to show our productions as widely as possible – in Russia and in the world.

‘We ask to spread information as widely as possible. Because Russia is the bottom, and the city of Komsomolsk is the bottom of the bottom — a place where people have not heard about human rights and where the names of colors are considered propaganda.’

During the days of the police interrogations, Tsvetkova received death threats online.

‘I haven’t eaten or slept in three days–I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown,’ she wrote on VK.

‘I have only one question, why is someone so intent on sabotaging our small and peaceful youth festival. Can it be that youth activism so frightens our authorities?’

Despite the ban, organizers ran a downsized version of the festival in a small classroom.

Lesbians are also being killed in Chechnya and no-one seems to care.

Lesbian and trans women are commonly murdered in honor killings.

A woman forced to have an Islamic exorcism in Chechnya | Photo: The Caucasian Knot

A lesbian who escaped the ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya has bravely shared her story, even though it could get her killed.

The woman – who remains anonymous for her safety – shared the horrors of growing up LGBTI in Chechnya and how she wasn’t even safe from her own family.

In early 2017 the world started learning how Chechnya – a region in the north Caucasus of Russia – had started rounding up, detaining, torturing and executing men because of their real or perceived sexual identity.

But in 2018 Chechen authorities turned their sights onto lesbians and trans people.

‘Also in 2018, we began to receive reports of girls being detained by the police on suspicion of homosexuality. According to reports from Chechnya, there are girls among those detained in December to January.’

Chechen authorities denied the claims, saying gay people don’t exist in Chechnya.

The lesbian who escaped Chechnya told news agencey current time that her ex-girlfriend outed her to her family. Even though she ran away from home twice, on of her brothers tracked her down.

‘One of my brothers came for me, and we went home. My mother was unhappy with this. She told my brother: “Why did you bring her home? You should have shot her somewhere in the forest, as we agreed”,’ the woman said.

‘But my brother did not do it – my father forbade him to do it.’

Her parents tried to send her to a psychiatric hospital for treatment and told her the demon, Jinn, had possessed her. So they sent her to a local mosque to undergo an exorcism to expel it.

‘We all understood that there was no Jinn in me, but I had to pretend and pretend that it actually existed,’ she said.

‘I pretended, my parents believed me, but after a few months I ran away again. It was 2017′.

Six months after her second escape to Russia, the woman managed to leave the country altogether. But she said not so many women in Chechnya are as lucky as her.

‘There are those who are still in Chechnya and [for various] reasons cannot leave there,’ she said.

‘This is especially true for girls. It is much harder for them to do this, because they are controlled: they cannot quietly leave the house, so that someone does not accompany them. Therefore, their evacuation is quite difficult to arrange.’

The woman said more men have been detained in Chechnya because ‘girls almost always go out to the street accompanied’ by a family member.

She also said many people who had escaped Russia are still to afraid to speak out, even if it is anonymously. But she chose to do an interview because ‘the less we talk about it, the less something will change’.

‘I would like people to talk about the problems that exist, and also talk about the problems of [Chechen lesbians], because no one notices women,’ she said.

‘If they kill a gay, everyone talks about it. But if a lesbian is killed, almost no one writes about it.

‘A woman [can] be taken out to the forest, killed, come home and pretend that there was nothing. And not a single neighbor, not a single relative will ask.’

We’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Appeal.

Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.

Please also share our appeal with your followers, friends and family; ensuring we raise awareness and apply pressure to permanently end this abuse.


Council of Europe anti-torture Committee urges the Russian Federation to carry out effective investigations into allegations of torture in the Northern Caucasian region.

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has today issued a public statement on the Russian Federation urging the Russian authorities to take decisive action to eradicate the phenomenon of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials in the Chechen Republic and elsewhere in the Northern Caucasian region of the Russian Federation, including through the conduct of effective investigations whenever relevant information comes to light.

The public statement is made in application of Article 10 (2) of the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture which provides that the Committee itself may issue a public statement if a Party to the Convention “fails to co-operate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee’s recommendations”.

Speaking as the public statement was released, the CPT 1st Vice-President Mark Kelly, who served as Head of delegation during the CPT’s 2017 visit to the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, said:

“For the CPT, it is of grave concern that, notwithstanding the efforts it has made over the last 20 years, torture of detained persons in the Chechen Republic has remained a deep-rooted problem. This speaks not only to a dereliction of duty at the level of the Republic’s authorities, but also to a failure of effective oversight and control at the federal level.”

It is clear from the information gathered by the Committee in the course of its visits that resort to torture and other forms of ill-treatment by members of law enforcement agencies in the Chechen Republic remains widespread, as does the related practice of unlawful detentions which inevitably heightens significantly the risk of resort to ill-treatment. Further, it remains deeply worrying that in their responses to the CPT’s visit reports the Russian authorities have failed to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

The widespread practice of police ill-treatment, including torture, is not unique to this republic of the Russian Federation; this problem has been repeatedly highlighted by the CPT in respect of other republics of the North Caucasian region.

The full text of the CPT’s Public Statement on the Russian Federation is available in English and French, as well as in Russian.

This is the fourth time the CPT has made a public statement concerning the Northern Caucasian region of the Russian Federation. The previous statements were made in 2001, 2003 and 2007.

You can also help us –LGBT World Beside.



© Thiago Barletta (Unsplash)

We met in a book and coffee bar in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Harlem asks me not to use his last name in the article. Because although he has been living in the Netherlands since 2016, he still fears retaliation. Opposite himself or his family in Chechnya.

The young man must be one of the first Chechen LGBT + refugees in the European Union. He fled the autonomous Russian republic before there was much international attention for the sad situation of LGBT + people in the region.

In early 2017, the Russian LGBT Network interest group and local opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta issued dozens of harrowing testimonies of torture and murder of mainly gay men by the Chechen authorities. The situation seemed to have improved somewhat under great international pressure. Until that appearance early this year disappeared when reports of extreme violence surfaced again.

In December 2018 alone, forty LGBT + people would have been arrested – at least two of them would not have survived. In the meantime, the great international pressure that came out in 2017 remains. It seems that Europe wants to normalize its relations with Russia, at the expense of the LGBT + community in the country. At the end of last year I contributed to the announcement of the news of the new wave of prosecutions by publishing a number of testimonies I received.

The witch hunt against gay men has been going on for much longer, according to Harlem’s story.


One evening in 2012 Harlem was taken away from his work by a number of soldiers and taken to a detention center. It was soon made clear to him that he was there because he was gay. The proof of his arrest: a video on which he kissed with another boy.

He was detained there for three long months and interrogated and tortured for hours. His interrogators pressured him to redeem names of other gay men. The hotel in the city regularly receives businessmen. The hotel bar is a meeting place for visitors and gays from the city. The authorities saw him as a good basis for preparing their “gay cleansing.”

After his release, he was extorted for years. In exchange for his life, he had to hand over large parts of his income. If he couldn’t afford to pay, he had to tell other homosexuals.

He was one of the sources that led the government to the rector of the University of Grozny. The government had long suspected that the man was gay and was looking for evidence. When they finally got that (hard-handed), they also started to extort the rector. When he could no longer pay, he disappeared. Since then there is no trace of the man. Perhaps he was killed.

It is difficult to estimate how many LGBT people have been arrested, tortured and / or killed in recent years. But the Russian LGBT Network already assumes that there are more than a hundred. Harlem himself knows about thirty acquaintances who were locked up in the same center for a while. One of his best friends was arrested last year and only released after he coughed up a large sum of money. At the moment the young man is still in hiding.


Fleeing from Chechnya to Europe is anything but obvious. It is expensive, the refugees often speak only Russian and have no guarantee of asylum. In addition, they often have to run headlong – and therefore without any preparation – because they are told that there is an investigation going on.

To further expose the situation of LGBT + people in his home country and to help refugees, Harlem founded the LGBT World Beside association. He recently started with a first collection campaign. The aim is to raise as much money as possible to better accommodate new refugees who arrive in Europe. This way Harlem wants to be able to buy clothes and offer a home outside the general asylum centers. These centers are often very dangerous for Chechen LGBT + people. There too they must keep their sexual identity secret, for fear that other (Chechen) asylum seekers will use violence against them. Or even worse: kill them.

In addition to shelter and clothing, Harlem wants to provide psychological help. Most refugees are often hit hard, both physically and mentally. Finally, he also wants to support the refugees with legal assistance.

Harlem’s campaign can already count on a lot of support. Piet De Bruyn, a Flemish parliamentarian, supported his initiative and the American LGBT + organization Voices4 of Wyatt Harms and Adam Eli also supported his work.


Head of the State Duma Committee on Family Issues Tamara Pletnev: “Gays should be treated”

The head of the State Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children Tamara Pletneva believes that homosexuals “should be treated.” She stated this on the author’s program by Vladimir Pozner on the First Channel, answering the moderator’s question about how she relates to the idea of criminal prosecution for homosexuality.

“Tchaikovsky was also [gay], but he was hiding it, hesitated. What to punish? It is necessary to treat, ”said Pletneva.

Also, according to Pletnevna, HIV is transmitted exclusively through sexual intercourse, since “we have such morality that it is possible anywhere and with whom it happens and no one bears responsibility”. Vladimir Pozner remarked that it is unnatural for a person to have only one sexual partner in a lifetime. “I do not blame anyone,” – said the deputy.

The program also raised the issue of sexual harassment. “If we talk about harassment by men, then it’s not only men who are to blame,” Pletneva said. “Nobody has harassed me here. Both those, and those [both men and women] should be brought up in this plan. Well, let’s say a woman gets a good job, and she is offered to sleep. I don’t know, well, such a woman … I wouldn’t agree, ”Pletneva shared.

When discussing the prohibition of abortion, the MP admitted that she had an abortion. “I am ashamed, I did. We lived in poverty, I understood that I would need to raise children, to teach. I gave birth to two daughters and all. But I did. I now read this prayer sometimes, on a piece of paper, please forgive me. Indeed, this is killing a person, ”she said.

At the same time, Pletnev does not believe that abortion should be prohibited: “This is a woman who must decide. If she lived very well, maybe she would have given birth to ten. ”

Pletneva also commented on her scandalous phrase, which she uttered during the 2018 World Cup, when she called on Russian women not to have sex with foreigners. “I’m generally ashamed to talk about this topic. I remember the Olympics 80. Some children were taken away, then they were looking for, then they themselves suffered, how to get home, colored children were born. They called me almost a racist for that. I am not a racist, really, ”says Pletneva.

The deputy spoke out against baby boxes. At the same time, it became clear from her words that she does not understand very well what it is. “This is not our morality, so that she [mother] would carry it there and put it. It is not clear how much they put there, where these children are going, ”she said.

We touched on the topic of adoption of children by foreigners. “They live in another country, maybe they live better there, but they will never be Russian again,” said the deputy.

At the same time, Pletnev believes that sex education lessons in schools are not needed.