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'It's not propaganda to condemn this law' United Russia deputy uses new anti-LGBTQ law to denounce openly gay St. Petersburg politician
In June, St. Petersburg opposition politician Sergey Troshin publicly came out as gay — a risky decision in a country that has begun vilifying LGBTQ people all the more intensely since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now, Russia's recently expanded law against LGBTQ "propaganda" has given Troshin's political opponents a new tool to use against him. And while Troshin told journalists he plans to keep speaking out against Moscow's discriminatory legislation, he could face thousands of dollars in fines if the Russian Attorney General's Office decides to act on the denunciations against him.
Pavel Dainyak, the head of the municipal council representing St. Petersburg’s Liteyny District, has asked Russia’s Attorney General to investigate whether council member Sergey Troshin, who publicly came out as gay this summer, violated Russia’s new law against LGBTQ “propaganda.” The independent Russian outlet Agentstvo noted that the request marks the first known case of the law being used to target a politician.
According to Agentstvo, Dainyak’s letter was written on November 29, six days before Vladimir Putin signed the anti-LGBTQ bill into law. Despite this, Dainyak cited the law in his request, claiming he received a complaint that Troshin had engaged in “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” using “informational-telecommunications networks,” which the new law prohibits. He then asks the Attorney General’s Office to “conduct an inspection and take measures.”
A slim majority of deputies serving on the Liteyny District’s municipal council, including Sergey Troshin, are members of the Yabloko party, while Dainyak represents the country’s ruling United Russia party. “We’ve had an ongoing standoff with United Russia since 2019, when the municipal council was elected, and they’re happy to spite us every chance they get,” Troshin told Agentstvo. The St. Petersburg prosecutor’s office has tried three times to eliminate the municipal council altogether, arguing that the body has never convened, according to lawyer Alexander Kobrinsky, who represents Yabloko. As a result of the United Russia deputies’ obstruction efforts, the Yabloko members have been unable to elect a new council leader to replace Dainyak.
Troshin has been an outspoken critic of the LGBTQ “propaganda” ban on social media. He told Agentstvo that he continues to “condemn and criticize the homophobic and discriminatory law, because criticism and condemnation don’t contain any LGBTQ propaganda, which is something that doesn’t exist in the first place.” According to lawyer Alexander Kobrinsky, Troshin could face a fine of between 50,000 rubles ($790) and 100,000 rubles ($1,582) under the new law. “But if a court decides that he’s acted specifically as a public official, as a deputy, then it could range from 100,000 rubles to 200,000 rubles ($3,164). And if they determine that he spread "propaganda" using the Internet, it’s very possible that all of those numbers could double,” he said.
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