Russia’s leading gay activist has filed a lawsuit against a St. Petersburg politician who has accused him of accepting financing from overseas for gay rights campaigns.
Nikolai Alekseev is claiming a million roubles (€25,800, $33,800) in a defamation lawsuit against Vitaly Milonov, the United Russia party deputy and author of the controversial St Petersburg act that prohibits ‘the promotion of homosexuality to minors’ which has now been signed into law.
Milonov also called Alekseev ‘a girl’. But it is the accusation, made on television, that he has been financed by organizations in Brussels, including the Commission of the European Union, that led Alekseev to file the suit.
On 2 March, Milonov told local TV station PiterTV that Alekseev ‘urgently needs to justify the money that he has received in the form of Western grants’.
The St Petersburg deputy went on to say of the planned picket by Alekseev in Russia’s second city once the act becomes law: ‘...that he can whine and beg in Brussels for money ...let them picket for their funds with the requirement to pay more dough.’
President-elect Putin’s United Russia party is very sensitive about funding from outside Russia, which is seen by the party as a tool to discredit Russia. Last December, Putin criticized the mass protests by the opposition saying that it was financed by the West to discredit them.
Publication of the fact that Alekseev was going to court was put on his blog. It was soon picked up by the Russian media, who were told by deputy Milonov that he was informed during a meeting with representatives of the St Petersburg-based Coming Out LGBT organization that gay activists in Russia are financed and supported by the European Commission.
Milonov also claimed to PiterTV that he has a video of the meeting with the St Petersburg activists who had told him of the financing from Brussels.
‘Now Mr Milonov will have to prove in court that I’m a girl and that I’m funded by Western grants,’ Alekseev told Gay Star News.
‘It will be interesting to see how he will do it. I’m mostly furious about the funding issue because it is an insult not only to me but also to all the activists around me who are regularly arrested, brutalized, judged and fined, simply for their ideals, and nothing else.’