Thursday, 19 November 2015

Russia: The Alexeyev Letter

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The US embassy in Moscow has given a Russian newspaper a grammar lesson over a fake letter that purports to show that the US pays gay rights activists to smear Russian officials.

The embassy marked more than two dozen mistakes in a copy of the alleged letter that it posted on its Twitter account. “Dear Izvestia, next time you use fake letters, send them to us – we will be happy to help correct the mistakes,” it wrote at the bottom.

The post was in response to an article in Izvestia on Wednesday that said activists were accusing the Russian officials of homosexuality to “earn grants” from the US State Department.

The article focused on prominent activist Nikolai Alexeyev, who told Ekho Moskvy radio station in May 2013 that Vladimir Putin’s aide Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of a state-owned bank and a director at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport were gay.

As proof of the US-backed “campaign to discredit” these officials, Izvestia quoted what the newspaper said was hacked correspondence between Alexeyev and the US State Department. Although it failed to provide a direct link, several quotes come from a letter posted on the CyberGuerilla website earlier this year.

In the letter, dated 11 May 2015, a rights envoy supposedly thanked Alexeyev for helping to organise a rally against Russian aggression in Ukraine, which drew “negative responses from Russian officials … a clear sign of excellent training and qualification of the protesters”.

“LGBT organisations will get increased financing at the expense of other opposition democratic organisations considering their low efficiency in developing civic society in Russia,” the alleged letter said...

The Guardian.

Might one suggest that as this letter was said to have been sent to Nikolai Alexeyev it might have just possibly been the creation of this increasingly nutty fantasist and master of the counter-productive publicity stunt?

The Interpreter Russia Update today notes...

Alekseyev himself is controversial figure in his own terms and is widely-traveled and publicized; when he appeared on Ekho Moskvy, some listeners texted that he himself was a provocateur within the gay movement.

From his first attempt at a gay demonstration in 2005, other gays denounced him as "a provocation of officials," since they believed he cooperated with the presidential administration to make the gay movement radical and visible, and then attract a police crackdown and angry public opinion.

These types of accusations are common in social movements in Russia where groups are split about tactics given the reality of state oppression and where it is easy to believe someone is a secret police informer given Soviet history. An American blogger accused Alekseyev of collaborating with the Kremlin when he claimed that a new anti-gay law would not be enforced, when it fact it was to charge a solo picketer. 

As Ekho Moskvy host Timur Olevsky commented during the talk show:

The co-organizer of the gay parade in Moscow, Nikolai Bayev, an acquaintance of Alekseyev, Nikolai Alekseyev believes that he is too rigid, and that this harms the cause of the gay community, however even so, he says that only coming out, only publicly emerging from the shadows, that is designating the right to be yourself, can help the LGBT movement in Russia.

Alekseyev has been arrested numerous times both for his attempt to stage the gay parades and campaign for same-sex marriages in Russia, where they are outlawed. He has also launched winning cases before the European Court of Human Rights on gay rights.

But he also became controversial in the West in August 2013 when he made a series of antisemitic comments on Twitter and Facebook about Advocate editor Matthew Breen and the magazine OUT. As a result, the organization Human Rights First, which had been active on promoting non-discrimination and tolerance of racial minorities and LGBYT withdrew from a planned conference call with Alekseyev. Alekseyev's social media outbursts at the time then culminated in slamming Peter Tatchell's "Love Russia, Hate Homophobia" campaign
[Who could have predicted the two biggest egos in LGBT campaigning would fall out? FB]. Finally, he issued a death threat to Michael Lucas, a Jewish American with Russian and Israeli roots. Alekseyev then claimed to quit LGBT activism after the scandals...

See also, Is Nikolai Alexeyev The Russian LGBT Community’s Greatest Asset, Biggest Liability — Or Both? Max Seddon, Buzzfeed.

Thanks to Paul Canning (who thinks everything I write about Russia is the mad ranting of the last gay Stalinist). x

PS Fagburn's favourite entirely believable stories about the eminently sane Nikolai are his two (2) claims to have been kidnapped!

1 comment:

  1. Having just praised you over a certain Labour Deputy then not *everything, sweetie.

    On whether the Russian state might just make shit up have a look at the story of two comrades who just got abducted or many, many other examples.