Ural Pride Week, a festival in support of the LGBT community, takes place all week in Yekaterinburg. A week before its start, the organizers received an application to the prosecutor’s office, the presidential administration and the FSB, and on the first day of the festival, uniformed people calling themselves Cossacks came out to the city center to “disperse gays”. At the same time, the Skrepa festival of traditional family values opened in Yekaterinburg.
The first event of the festival – a tour of the queer places of the Ural capital on Monday, September 7 – did not take place, the organizers claim that the guide was ill. At the same time, on the same evening, patrols calling themselves Cossacks came out to the city center to “chase gays”. Regional media reported at least two cases in which uniformed men stopped young men on the street, claiming their appearance.
Student Alexander Zinoviev wrote about the meeting with the “Cossacks” in his VKontakte account.
“So, I walk along the Iset and through the music I hear a formidable:“ Hey, you! ”I turned around and saw two“ Cossacks ”in front of me. Everything is in the best traditions of modern“ Cossacks ”- whip, Kubanka, camouflage-birch and a lot of different crosses, medals and badges, obviously bought on Aliexpress or taken from a veteran grandfather, “Zinoviev said. According to him, the patrol told him that it “controls the propaganda of gayness among the people” and tried to detain him, but the young man disappeared into the passage and left on the bus that approached.
The Orenburg Cossack army did not recognize it as its own and condemned the “Cossacks” patrolling the streets. The chief of staff of the Isetskaya Line of the Orenburg Cossack Army, Artem Bolotov, told znak.com: “Personally, my colleagues and I have not been involved in such nonsense.” According to the federal law on voluntary people’s squads, the Cossacks can only accompany police officers of the patrol and guard service, but not act independently, and even more so, not stop citizens. “
The BBC Russian Service spoke with the organizers of both events.
Alla Chikinda, organizer of Ural Pride Week:
“It is difficult to name one moment when the idea of the event arose. In St. Petersburg, since 2009, Queerfest and the International Film Festival” Side by Side “, Open art in Moscow have been taking place, the Resource Center has been participating in Yekaterinburg city events for a prides in Europe and realized that we could do something like that, a big festival in Yekaterinburg on our own. ”Resource Center does not interact with the Russian authorities in any way.
In Yekaterinburg, the LGBT community differs from the community in other Russian cities in that it takes part in common civic initiatives: the topic of freedom in general is important to it. In other regions, [LGBT people] tend to keep apart, but for us it is important to be a part of society. Yes, we have special values, but we also share the values that unite all people.
Now such a public outcry has arisen, various groups have become more active. Those have become more active, who read: “Oh, now the men in shorts will go.” The city was roughly divided into those who are against, and those who are for – not for LGBT, but for freedom.
People started to support us. When they saw that these “Cossacks” – and in fact, those who are not – walk, that there are people who start to offend us, write threats, statements against us, they understand that this is not normal, that this is happening in our city, our country. They are against outdated ideas, conservative and “staple”. What is happening now in the city is unprecedented, in my opinion. And if you look at the comments on social networks and the media, everyone is surprised at what is happening. “
Andrey Kormukhin, creator of the Forty Fortieth movement and organizer of the Skrepa festival of family values:
We wanted to spend “Skrepa” for seven years, wanted to break through this wall, and submitted an official notification to the Moscow mayor’s office and other institutions. Although “Forty Forty” held offsite events in Krasnoyarsk, St. Petersburg, and Transnistrian Tiraspol, the festival of traditional family values is being held in Russia for the first time in Yekaterinburg, and for the first time it is called “Skrepa”. The city administration supported him.
We are not engaged in any counter-programming, I first heard about this, as you say, Ural week [pride]. Where are the millions of Russian families and where is that very small, very small part of people. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t even want to discuss it.
It seems to you that the word “scrapa” means something of a service, it is your perception. And “scrapa” is a family. Like a brace holds the logs together. The family holds together generations, childbirth. The family is the world, maybe this is your service perception of the world.
In Yekaterinburg “Forty forties” was held already last year “Sorochinskie tea drinking”. When there was a conflict over the construction of the temple. But people did not understand that there would be a square, and a temple, and also teenagers would ride skateboards here.
I see the happy faces of people – this is the main goal of the festival. The main unit of society is the family. KPI [festival] – increase in weddings, families, birth rates in the region…. Happiness is measured by traditional values, when a person has a loved one, they have loved children, and they need the right guidelines and the right values. “