Russia bar owner arrested under LGBTQ ‘extremism’ law

The owner of a bar in Russia has been arrested under the country’s ‘LGBTQ+ extremism’ legislation, just days after two of the venue’s staff were held under the same law.

On Sunday (31 March), independent human rights defence and media group OVD-Info said the owner of Pose, in Orenburg, a city close to the border with Kazakhstan, had been detained.

The arrests follow Russia’s Supreme Court outlawing the “international LGBT movement” towards the end of last year. 

The owner, who has not been named, was reportedly arrested three days ago at Moscow airport. Prosecutors are accusing him of conspiring with supporters of the “international LGBT movement”. If found guilty, all three men could face up to 10 years in jail.

@pinknews

A bar owner in #Russia has been arrested for “extremism” and for conspiring with supporters of the “international #LGBT movement” On Thursday 28 March, the owner of Pose bar in Orenburg was detained at a Moscow airport and charged with “organising an extremist community”, the independent media and human rights group OVD Info said. The bar, which opened in 2021, labels itself a ‘bar theatre parody’ and a ‘night bar with show program’. In early March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and riot police carried out a raid of the bar during a drag show, later arresting its administrator and artistic director. Footage of what is claimed to be the raid was posted by the pro-government movement Russian Community of Orenburg on Telegram, although the video cannot be independently verified. On Wednesday 20 March, the pair were accused by an Orenburg tribunal of supporting “the views and activities of the banned international public association of LGBT people” and being representatives of “non-traditional sexual orientation.” A video has also been circulating on X which claims to show the owner of the bar being sent to a pret-trial detention centre. This footage also cannot be verified. According to OVD Info, the three individuals will remain in custody until May 18. If they are found guilty, the bar owners and his two employees could face up to 10 years in prison. In November 2023, the Supreme Court in Russia outlawed the “international public LGBT movement”, which does not exist, as “extremist”, and in March 2024, the country added the ‘LGBT movement’ to a list of extremist and terrorist organisations. Critics of the law claim that they are purposely wide-ranging and intentionally vague. #lgbtq #police #russiantiktok

♬ Minimal for news / news suspense(1169746) – Hiraoka Kotaro

The two earlier arrests followed a police raid last month, footage of which appeared online. Independent news website Mediazona named the pair as Alexander Klimov, the art director of the club, and manager Diana Kamilyanova. 

Russia declared the “international public LGBT movement” an extremist organisation in November 2023, despite no such group existing. The court’s vague language leaves LGBTQ+ people in the country at risk of lengthy prison sentences simply for being queer. 

Since the law came into force, police have raided a bar in Russia’s fourth-largest city Yekaterinburg, a My Little Pony convention was shut down for supposedly promoting queer propaganda, and anti-riot officers stormed what state media called an “anti-war LGBTQ+ party” meeting near St Petersburg. 

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