Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Window on Eurasia: FSB Now Targeting LGBTs the Way the KGB Did in Soviet Times

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 24 – On the basis of both standing internal directives and the new Russian law against “homosexual propaganda,” the FSB is targeting LGBTs even more aggressively than the KGB did in Soviet times but to the same ends of discrediting opposition groups in the eyes of the population and forcibly recruiting gays to report on the leaders of such groups.

            One FSB officer told that Soviet officials applied its anti-gay laws only rarely but that “the KGB recruited agents from among homosexuals” to gather information about the dissent movement by threatening them with criminal charges if they did not cooperate (

            Olga Gert, a LGBT activist, recalls that practice. She says that KGB officers often “invited a homosexual for a conversation and then proposed working for the authorities or being charged. “It seems to me,” she says, “that today we are returning to Soviet times” in this regard.

            The situation has been getting worse for several years and not just since the law on “homosexual propaganda” was passed, according to the FSB officer with whom the news agency spoke. According to him, that agency has data showing that LGBTs are “actively cooperating with opposition figures” and actively involved in protest actions.

            Natalya Tsymblaov of the Heterosexual Alliance for LGBT Equality says that her group has much evidence that the FSB is regularly inviting LGBT activists and rights activists for “conversations” and seeking to use them as sources or agents. Her group recommends either not going or not answering any questions.

            But some have gone, and the questions they have been asked show what the FSB is interested in and concerned about. Mariya Kozlovskaya, a lawyer who works with LGBTs, says members of that community are asked about “numbers, contacts with foreign foundations, especially American and German, and about their financing.”

            “It seems to us that they are recruiting their agents in this milieu,” she continues. And judging from some documents that she has seen, that process and raids against places where LGBT people are known to congregate have been going on for some time and are going to continue.

            One of the documents to which Kozlovskaya refers was prepared by the FSB Administration for Moscow and Moscow Oblast. In its report on recent harassment of LGBT groups in Moscow and Murmansk,  provides two large excerpts which say a lot about official thinking concerning homosexuality.

            “The dissemination of the ideas of homosexualism and the use of narcotics are acquiring an ever larger character,” the report says.  According to operation data, members of sexual minorities and also drug dependent citizens and members of organied criminal groups involved with drug trafficking are actively being used by the special services and organizations, including non-governmental one0 of foreign states with the goal of realizing projects of a destructive direction.”

            “In particular,” the report continues, “in recent times has been noted the active participation of the listed categories of persons in the carrying out of protest actions, including on May 6, 2012 on Bolotnoye Square in Moscow, which were directed at harming the interests of the Russian Federation. Quite often devotees of homosexualism and drug users are used by destructive forces as organizers of illegal public actions which have as their goal the destabilization of the political and social-economic situation in the country.”

                As the news service points out, this report contains several very disturbing “ideas.” First, it equates homosexuality and drug trafficking. Second, it links both to the political opposition, a tie that officials can use against both groups.  And third, it ties LGBT activists to Western governments and NGOs, thus opening another front against them.

            The arrest and then release of LGBT activists in Murmansk on Monday and the OMON raise in Moscow on June 2 have attracted a certain amount of media notice in the West, but this latest testimony about what the FSB is doing shows that the Russian government’s attack on LGBTs is broader and more insidious, even though it has remained largely out of sight.

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