Main | Thursday, November 14, 2013

RUSSIA: Government Spies On LGBT Groups, Broadcasts Secret Recordings

J. Lester Feder reports at Buzzfeed:
Russian officials bugged a private strategy meeting convened by Russian LGBT activists and four major international human rights organizations in October, an intensification of the campaign to clamp down on LGBT rights ahead of the Olympic games in Sochi. This surveillance was revealed on Nov. 12, when a state television channel broadcast audio from the meeting as part of a program presented as an exposé of the “threat to Russia” posed by the “homosexualists who attempt to infiltrate our country.”

The inclusion of a few minutes of this audio sent a chill through human rights activists in Russia and abroad. The Russian government has actively suppressed public speech in support of LGBT rights under its ban on the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.” But this was the first time activists were aware that authorities had actively spied on strategy meetings organized in private, and it was taken as a sign that the government may be seriously escalating its crackdown on LGBT rights as it looks ahead to the Olympic Games in February.
Human Rights Watch reacts:
Human Rights Watch’s Director of Global Initiatives Minky Worden, who participated in the St. Petersburg meeting, told BuzzFeed that following this broadcast, “Russia should get a gold metal in Olympic spying.” “At a time when Russia ought to be unfurling the red carpet to the international community, it is instead increasingly operating with a Soviet approach,” she said. “This is blatant targeting of gay activists for Soviet-like surveillance, and then using material selectively to stoke an anti-gay campaign broadcast to millions across Russia…. It really ought to make the IOC and the Olympic sponsors — plus Olympic athletes and other governments — profoundly nervous because it gives the lie to the so-called ‘assurances’ by the Russian Government and the IOC that the anti-gay law will not be enforced during the Olympic games.”
Here's the report that aired on Russia television.

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