A popular lesbian night spot, restaurant and gallery in Moscow has been shut down after the building’s owners decided to kick out the business owner and turn the club into a bar for ‘natural’ people.
Eugenia Debryanskaya had been running her Dietrich bar from the building, originally opening under the name 12 Volt, since 2003 but on 10 December her landlord Maksim Kozlouvkiy allegedly ran into the club yelling that it was about to be raided by the police, causing staff and clientele to flee the building.
Debryanskaya says she threw her keys to Kozlouvskiy as she left so that he could close up the bar after the police had finished the raid.
However the police never came and instead Kozlouvskiy allegedly hired security guards to keep staff out and changed the locks, taking possession of Dietrich’s audio equipment and alcohol stocks along with the building.
Debryanskaya says Kozlouvskiy asked her to meet with him the following day at a local McDonalds restaurant where he informed her that, as the bar’s 12 year lease on the property was up for renewal on New Year’s Day, he was not allowing her to continue to lease the space and would instead be taking over the venue himself to run as a straight bar.
Debryanskaya told The Daily Beast that she has contacted the police over the incident but didn’t expect them to do anything when they have done nothing when other gay venues have been forced out of their buildings.
‘I complain,’ she said. ‘But I am sure they will do nothing.’
Moscow’s Central Station gay night club was forced to relocate from its original home in May of 2014 after a long campaign to force them out of their building which involved shots being fired at the venue, noxious gas being released inside the club, and hired thugs trying to dismantle the roof of the building.
However Moscow police took no action despite 30 official complaints being lodged with them.
Debryanskaya says that she will try to file another complaint with Moscow police to get back the club’s sound system, though she says it may be ‘absolutely useless to try and defend a gay club in Russia.’
Despite Russia’s ban of public discussion of LGBTI issues and a pervasive climate of homophobia, it is not yet illegal to operate a gay or lesbian venue in Russia provided that it is discrete and no minors are allowed onto the premises.
Dietrich had been operating so discreetly that new patrons needed to follow a map just to find it.