Over the past few days a video that appears to show a Russian teenager being bullied by a large gang of kids, apparently for being gay, has been shared on a variety of sites.
Quite rightly, the video — which ends with the kid having what appears to be urine poured over him — has caused outrage. Many people see the video as the latest worrying development a creeping homophobia in Russian society — a homophobia that appears to be state-sanctioned.
While we were initially hesitant to publish the video, the fact is that the video is everywhere now and it would be futile to try and hide it. Youtube has removed this video.
We reached out to Larry Poltavtsev, a U.S.-based tech entrepreneur who was one of the first people to bring the video to the attention of the English-speaking world, with the help of his Spectrum Human Rights Alliance. Poltavtsev helped explain why the video was so horrifying.
In the video, which appears to have been shot in the winter in the suburbs of a Russian city, a 15-year-old boy has been lured to a meeting place by the fictional online persona “Uncle Dima.” However, once he is there he is met by a gang of young men and women. These young men and women apparently created a fake “Uncle Dima” account on VK, a Russian social network similar to Facebook, to lure the young boy to the meeting place.
They imply — though it is difficult to trust them — that the boy was planning to have some kind of sexual conduct with “Uncle Dima” in return for the money to buy a laptop.
Clearly under duress, the 15-year-old is then forced to “confess” to being a homosexual. He is forced to reveal his full name, the school he goes to, his parents’ names, home address, etc.
Perhaps what is most remarkable about the video is that the gang that attacks the boy clearly feels proud of their actions. A number appear clearly in the video, and while one does wear a mask at one point, this may be more for intimidation. At another point an older lady comes into the frame, and she commends the gang for their actions, and tells the boy to be ashamed of himself.
According to Poltavtsev, the video is part of a wider problem. A former skinhead who has faced jail time for neo-Nazi crimes, Maxim Martsinkevich, has been the ringleader in a two projects: “Occupy Pedophilyaj” and “Occupy Gerontilyaj.” While these projects obstensively have the aim of catching pedophiles, in reality, Poltavtsev says, fake VK profiles are used to find and publicly humiliate young gay men. The police do little to help, Poltavtsev says, and besides, most young men are too afraid to go public about the crimes. “Being outed in a small Russian town is like being killed,” Poltavtsev said. “So, many resort to a suicide.”
Poltavtsev says that largely the Russian media hasn’t touched the subject, with a couple of notable exceptions. Earlier this month Lenta.ru sent a reporter to the Urals, one of the places where the “Occupy Pedophilyaj” movement was strongest, to investigate. “If I had it my way, we would kill [homosexuals],” one member of the group tells the journalist. Another Russian story says that the victims are sometimes as young as 11-years-old.
It’s hard to watch this video and agree with people who feel that Russia is being unfairly portrayed as homophobic. While the video itself doesn’t prove acts like this are systematic, it does seem like the logical conclusion of a country where “gay propaganda” is banned and polls show 50% of people feel “irritated or disgusted” by homosexuals.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.