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Police charge Navalny activist with illegal ‘gay propaganda’ for sharing photos of kissing couples

Police in Krasnodar have opened a misdemeanor case against Alexey Navalny’s local campaign coordinator, charging Anastasia Panchenko with illegal “gay propaganda” for sharing two photos on Instagram showing same-sex couples kissing during protests on February 14. According to her lawyer, Mikhail Benyash, Panchenko faces a fine as high as 100,000 rubles ($1,340), if convicted. Officials say the images violate Russia’s ban on “promoting non-traditional sexual relations among minors” because Panchenko’s Instagram page is accessible to minors. 

Benyash told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta that he has requested a psychological examination of the photos to determine if they constitute illegal propaganda. He says he expects the matter to go to trial.

On February 14, supporters of the imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny assembled for small flashmobs in cities across Russia, posing with their cell-phone flashlights in demonstrations organized around the theme of “love is stronger than fear.” Despite threats from law enforcement, the rallies went ahead without arrests.

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