Actor starring in homophobic political ad for upcoming Russian plebiscite opposes constitutional amendments
Actor Alexander Filimonenko recently starred in a homophobic propaganda video titled “Why amendments to the Constitution are important.” He then opposed voting in favor of those very same amendments.
The video was created by the “Federal News Agency” (RIA FAN) and the “Patriot” media group, both of which are linked to businessman Evgeny Prigozhin. The video shows a hypothetical scenario in which Russia did not adopt the proposed amendment to article 72 of the Constitution, which seeks to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As a result, in the year 2035, LGBTQ people in Russia are allowed to adopt children.
In the ad, an orphanage employee records a video, rejoicing : “A little boy was adopted here today.” It later emerges that the child, named Petya, was adopted by a young gay couple. Filimonenko played the role of Petya’s “new mom” — a man wearing eye makeup, who suggests that Petya wear a dress. At this point, the narrator cuts in and says “Is this the Russia you choose? Decide the future of the country, vote for the amendments to the Constitution.”
The online publication Coda managed to track down the actors that starred in the video. Two of them refused to comment on anything, but Filimonenko was willing to give an interview. As it turns out, he has been acting in commercials and Russian television shows for a long time: Filimonenko has played a viking, a hussar, and a policeman, and even appeared on the Russian reality show Dom-2.
According to Filimonenko, he was only told what he would have to do in the video when he appeared on set. “At 6 a.m., a friend wrote and invited [me] — [you] need to play a [gay] guy. I say ‘Why not?’ I can try, especially now [that there’s] a crisis,” the actor said. “We are shooting a second video today. I have the same role in this one. It will be a series, but I’m only acting in two.”
Filimonenko didn’t expect the video to have any resonance. He underscored that he himself has a “smooth relationship with gay people,” “the main thing is that it doesn’t not concern him.” According to Filimonenko, he didn’t want to offend anyone and doesn’t know who paid for the video, but he also noted that participants in the shoot were later asked not to give interviews. Coda’s journalists wrote to him before the ban, which is why he agreed to talk to them.
“I am outside of politics. But they arrested me at the park here yesterday [for violating the self-isolation regime], they wrote up a fine,” Filimonenko complains. “Prior to this I didn’t want to go vote. Now I have decided to go vote against the amendments! That I was arrested and they wrote up a fine is mayhem, they tricked [me] — they said there would just be a warning. People are having money problems now already and the authorities are still [handing out] fines. I will go vote against, in order to express my position. Although I’ve never gone to the polls before.”
Russia is set to hold its nationwide vote on amendments to the Constitution July 1.
Translation by Eilish Hart