Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Russian Gay Lives in Geneva
& Part Time in Moscow

(Viaceslav Revin, from his Facebook page.)

[UPDATE: Viacslav informs me: "I want to correct you. Nicholas did not live permanently in Switzerland. He is a Russian citizen and can not live permanently in another country. He lives in Moscow and in Switzerland. I do not know what are the exact restrictions may by law 90 days from 180." I erred with my original headline and what appears below. I apologize for my mistake. However, my larger point, that Nikolai is not a full-time Moscow resident stands. -michael.]

Over the past few days, I have discovered a wider gay Russian world that exists beyond one Nikolai Alexeyev and his agenda. A gay Russian blog titled Anti-Dogma wrote a good post on the controversies he's stirred up here in the USA.

Using Google's Translate service, I read what the local were saying, then posted my own note with a few questions included, and I'm pleased to say I quickly heard from Viaceslav Revin. He has granted me permission to post his remarks here. I've thanked him for providing us with a Russian perspective on Nikolai and his work.

Of all the things in this note, the weirdest one is that Nikolai lives in Switzerland. That kind of living arrangement, where a leader for a major city doesn't actually reside in the city, is something we have seen over the years in San Francisco. We have gay and AIDS leaders who live in the East Bay, yet they set the agenda for San Francisco for the gays who pay rent, taxes and vote here.

But what is weird about a gay Russian not living in Moscow is not that he doesn't reside in the metropolis, but that he lives in another country.

Viaceslav Revin responds to my questions:

Q: We don't know why we were good activists when we had rallies for him at the consulate, and now are bad activists just because we wanted answers about his alleged anti-Semitic and why he deleted his blog. If there is nothing bad/anti-semitic/stupid on his blog, he will restore it.

A: You are not the first person who asks a similar question. Nick sees the world only through the prism of people's relation to its activities and to him personally. Nobody has the right to criticize or say that Nicholas either from the fact that he did not like it. The list of people in Russia, where he insulted and publicly humiliated is huge. This human rights defenders, members of LGBT organizations, just people who have tried to adjust its position and reach a compromise.

In fact, apart from a few people, no one supports his action. We are ready to support the idea of gay pride. We are ready to go out with a protest against homophobia. We (gays living in Russia) in Russia have done this many times in different cities. Our actions were not so in the press. In Russia, dozens of regional organizations and informal initiatives that contribute to the common cause to reduce homophobia, internal homophobia, HIV prevention, socialization of same-sex families.

Almost everyone understands the need for gay pride. But not under the flag of Nicholas.

Q: Why is there the rumor that he lives in Geneva?

A: Because he does not conceal this information. In his LiveJournal, he regularly gave reports on Switzerland. It would be strange if he did not live in one country with her husband.

Gays do not have any relation to the claim against the Moscow Helsinki Group. [Note from Michael: I learned today that Nikolai in the autumn sued a revered human rights worker, and am trying to find out who supported the lawsuit plus its outcome.]

Apart from a few of his supporters. However, this claim has caused much debate. Ludmila Alekseeva, supports the right to protection of Article 31 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The first who began to organize public rallies in support of this article was Limonov. He is the National Bolshevik. There is a dissonance. On the one hand Limonov requires legitimate rights, on the other its ideology is very dangerous for Russia.

As Ludmila Alekseeva aimed to achieve compliance with the right of assembly, it has reached this goal. Limonov, put forward the same political goals, which were already far from the protection of rights. Since the policy in Russia is street politics, radical politics, the views on Limonov VS Lyudmila Alekseeva divided. Around the same time, Lyudmila Alekseeva voiced their opinions about Nicholas. Then there was a scandal. But since both situations are superimposed on one another, the opinion of gay people in Russia were divided.

But the most interesting for me personally, an explanation of this phrase [from Nikolai's blog]. We in Russia have not received any comments [from him on this]:

Russian gay community are slaves! They do not deserve the decision of the European Court, which issued in their favor! They would masturbate each other in a dark corner ... more involved they do not deserve ... and these little people I also suggest as I do with Alexeeva ... that I was crap in the air leading radio station. Yes, I would like to spit out there thinks about the gay community. She insulted me personally, and personally I'll sue her!


Vito (tundra) said...

Thank you for your post! I have had run-ins with Nikolai on his facebook page and quickly made note of his inability to argue fairly and use logic. I'm glad to see other Russian activists who work and it isn't just Nikolai.

FromRussiaWithLove said...

Hello, fellow LGBT folks.

Anti-Semitic comments – are only “a tip of the iceberg” and only a tiny part of Mr. Alexeyev’s dark side which you won’t ever see on the glossy and shiny pages of his newly revamped GayRussia website, you won’t ever hear in the English-speaking news and websites. This is something he won’t ever tell you in any emails himself. And the truth, unfortunately, is not so rainbow-colored indeed. Alexeyev thought you’d never reach his personal blog in Russian. That’s why it is gone now, and probably won’t be ever back again. Thanks for cache, we still can access some of it. It is a bit surprising that not all US activists have a tool called thorough background check as a good practice, especially when it comes to complicated international issues, language barriers and culture differences.

The deadly silence of Russian LGBT community on this is a pitiful, but “successful” result of 5 years of Mr. Alexeyev’s constant bullying, terrorizing, threatening, name-calling, ridiculing it - and those people who dared to voice opinions different than his. Today most Russian LGBT activists prefer just to ignore Alexeyev and not say anything at all, because any criticism or alternative view means immediate and brutal backlash from him, because he takes it all very personally. There is documented evidence of that, for example his scandalous speech in Helsinki in 2010 on Russian civil activists’ conference, where he started to hysterically yell, blame and curse his Russian peers right in front of the foreign audience. Most people just got up and left that ugly scene, many, including the hosts of this event, protested and afterwards felt very sorry about it.

Russian culture is indeed different from American one.

But even in our Russian culture calling LGBT community “slaves who do not deserve gay prides” does not really help these people in protecting their human rights, does it?

How does bullying and suing the most prominent Russian human rights advocate 82-old Ludmila Alexeyeva help advance LGBT movement in Russia? It doesn’t. By the way, the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), the oldest and respected human rights organization in Russia, headed by Ludmila, readily supports other Russian LGBT groups and orgs… except – you guessed it, Mr. Alexeyev and his GayRussia – due to a scandal in 2007 when Mr. Alexeyev showed sympathy and partnered up with a famous Russian nationalist Alexey Mitrofanov. MHG immediately withdrew its support of GayRussia, it’s not restored up to this day.

Another game with nationalistic scent is played by the Alexeyev’s so-called “Slavic Pride”. Russian federation is a multinational country, where not only Slavic people live. Naming a pride event “Slavic” in Russia reminds of huge nationalistic “Russian Marches” which are held in Moscow every year by extreme nationalists. “Slavic Pride” (compare with “White Pride”) is a disgusting name for a human rights event which aims to bring people together and not to divide them by ethnicity. Many activists pointed out this to Alexeyev and to his small group of supporters but they didn’t even seem to try and understand what’s wrong with this name!

FromRussiaWithLove said...

How does Mr. Alexeyev’s obsessive desire to “repress” his peers who have a different view on gay pride parades in Russia help to advance LGBT rights? In February 2010, answering to a concerned guy in LiveJournal, what will Alexeyev do to such people, he proclaimed: “There will be no amnesty. Repressions will be harder”. Read it again. You still want to defend Nikolai and his repressions against LGBT? What kind of leadership and activism is that? Screenshot:

Official registration of LGBT organizations in Russia is not easy. When in 2009 “Vykhod” (“Coming Out”) Saint-Petersburg-based LGBT-org succeeded to be the first and only officially registered organization in Russia in 2000s, Alexeyev immediately started to spread rumors over the international LGBT mailing lists that the registration was fake and that the official regulations and official org name did not include mention of LGBT. How such approach can help to advance LGBT issues in Russia? Not to mention, that Alexeyev’s own organization in Russia is not officially registered up to this day. Actually this so-called human rights organization itself does not have an office, a phone-line, etc. and it is only a web-site which was recently quite ironically moved to the EU domain name, instead of RU.

In 2010 Alexeyev started to bully Deutsche Welle reporter who dared to voice his concerns about Moscow Pride 2010, which was held in a highly secretive flashmob mode for 10 minutes somewhere far from crowded main streets of Moscow. After several hours of uncertainty and constant running around Moscow and changing locations, reporters were exhausted and angry that they were invited to cover such a poorly organized event which nobody saw besides the reporters themselves. But somehow the right to talk about was taken away from them by Alexeyev.

Many people are concerned how Alexeyev’s initiatives are financed. In his deleted blog Alexeyev many times pointed out that the main sponsor for his activities is his Swiss husband named Pier located in Geneva. During these 5 years Russian LGBT community still doesn’t know what is the last name of this secret sponsor, what does he do for living, what are his goals for gay prides in Russia? We simple do not know. We didn’t even see his picture. How is this money earned? Is it by legal means or by some illegal activites like prostitution, drug-dealing, etc? These are important questions for any social movement. Alexeyev’s blog was filled with leisure cruise photos outside Russia. He spends a lot of time abroad. What Russian LGBT community is supposed to think looking at such lifestyle? Yes, if Alexeyev screws something up, he has a safe place in Geneva with his husband. What about all other people who suffer from his constant provocations?

FromRussiaWithLove said...

In fact, public opinion polls, conducted on the internet during last 5 years, show that the vast majority (more than 80%) of Russian LGBT, who participated in the polls, have negative attitude towards Alexeyev’s persona and activities. But he doesn’t seem to care about that. Alexeyev’s team in fact every time tried to disrupt conduction of these polls by flooding the discussion by senseless and insulting comments.

The last thing I’d like to notice is attitude towards Alexeyev inside his own small team. There is only a very small number of permanent supporters in Moscow. The most part of his team is constantly changing, people come and go all the time, not able to cope with his dictatorship style. Nikolai Baev, who today is his closest companion, in 2006 said the following (and still didn’t denounce it): “Alexeyev is simply a hysterical and paranoid person. You can communicate with him only by agreeing with him. I perfectly realized it and that was the only way to succeed”. Screenshot:

Sorry, I will not leave my real name here - I am already sick and tired of Mr. Alexeyev’s bullying and threats, just like many other people. I know how maniacally he traces everything said about him on the web and media. Believe me, this is not my personal crusade against Alexeyev. I only presented the facts widely known among Russian LGBT. These facts can be easily checked and confirmed by virtually any Russian LGBT activist. Thank you.

From Russia with Love.