Two men in Russia who married one another in Copenhagen have temporarily fled their homeland. They fear repercussions from the authorities after they claim a civil servant recognized their marriage with official documentation.
News of the marriage between Pavel Stotsko and Evgennii Voytsekhovsky appeared over the weekend.
They married in Denmark on 4 January.
Article 14 in Russia
The couple thought a legal loophole would offer their marriage legally recognition in Russia.
Russian recognize marriages registered overseas so long as they don’t ‘contradict article 14 of the Family Code.’
That article outlaws the marriage of close relatives, people under the age of 18, between adoptive parents and their children, people with certain mental health issues and people already married. The article does not say anything about same-sex marriages.
Upon their return to Moscow, the couple went to the multifunctional service center (MFC) to register their wedding.
The claimed the civil servant stamped their passports as married ‘without additional questions, or any change in his facial expression’.
When they posted news of the civil servant’s action on social media, several news outlets reported on it. This led to swift action from authorities, with the MFC denying it had stamped the men’s passports and calling it ‘fake news.’
On Saturday, the men were visited by plainclothes officials, including the Moscow deputy police chief, Andrey Zakharov. Officials demanded the ‘damaged’ passports be turned over to them and said the men would have new passports issued. The Interior Ministry says they will be fined for damaging them.
Stotsko and Voytsekhovsky say electricity to their building was turned off at the same time as the visit.
They also said Stotsko’s mom, Zenya, received threatening phone calls.
‘This was a hidden threat’
The Moscow Times today reports that the men have temporarily fled the country, with the assistance of the Russian LGBT Network.
‘The police officers declared openly that they could not protect [the pair] from attacks from homophobically-minded citizens and organizations. This was a hidden threat,’ said human rights activist Igor Kochetkov.
‘Therefore the decision was made that for now, they must leave Russia.’
Stotsko posted to his Facebook yesterday a message saying: ‘LGBT network today saved our lives! We’re going for a few days, but we’re still fighting!’
GSN has reached out to Stotsko for further comment.