More troubling news out of Russia.
First, there was the curious case of Aleksander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB agent who was poisoned with the radioactive isotope Polonium-210. Before that, the Russian State dismantled the Yukos Oil company and jailed its founder, Mikhail Khordorkovsky, in order to consolidate goverment control over the energy sector.
Then the Russian parliament adopted legislation against non-governmental organizations, which they accused of being tools through which foreign powers sought to subvert Russian society.
Also, in their campaign to silence voices of opposition, Putin and his allies have shut down or taken control of all independent national television stations. And assassinations and violent attacks on members of the press who dare criticize the Kremlin (and whose attackers are never brought to justice) make Russia the third most dangerous country for journalists after good ole Iraq and Algeria.
Then, last month, chess legend Garry Kasparov, who is now the leader of the United Civil Front, part of the "Other Russia" anti-Kremlin coalition, was arrested for participating in a banned demonstration in Moscow.
And now the latest: today, around 100 gay rights activists took to the street in Moscow to protest the mayor's refusal to allow a gay pride march to celebrate the 14th-anniversary of Russia's decriminalization of homosexual activity. These protestors, who included several EU lawmakers and human rights activists, as well as Nikolai Alexeyev, the leader of Russia's gay rights movement, were harassed and beaten by a homophobic crowd of Orthodox Russians and right-wing nationalists before many of them were arrested. According to Volker Beck, a German MP participating in the protest, he and other demonstrators were subject to police brutality during their detainment.
The rolling back of democracy in Russia is a very sad and disturbing phenomenon, but I did notice something amusing at the bottom of one article I read about this latest incident.
It seems that Yulia Volkova and Elena Katina, the members of the faux-lesbian pop duo t.A.T.u., were in attendance at the fateful rally before things got out of hand!
You may remember Tatu (I refuse to write out that stupid capitalization and punctuation more than once); their biggest international hit was "All The Things You Said" off of their album 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane [how eurotrash is that name?!]. They were marketed as lesbian schoolgirls, but it was all a publicity stunt. Whenever anyone would ask them a question about their sexuality (such as "Are you two really lesbians?") they would distract everybody by being like "It is ok to be who you are! We love each other. Kiss, kiss. We are from Russia! Look at our boobs!" Then I guess they admitted they were really straight and everyone immediately lost interest. Apparently, their unique brand of high-pitched screeching to techno beats was not strong enough to stand on it own. But, whatever, I'm sure those girls were giggling all the way to the bank.
The author of the article made some reference to how Tatu, while not being actual lesbians, had caused quite the international stir with their erotic girl-on-girl schtick "in recent years." My first reaction was "dude, that was like ten years ago!" but apparently, according to no less a source than Mr. Wikipedia, this all happened in 2002-2003. I guess it got old so fast that it just seems like longer ago. And apparently they are still producing music: good on them!
Anyway -- and I have to give credit where credit is due -- before the storm, my friend Nicole introduced me to the most awesome song by Tatu, which I had never heard before and which is 100x better than "All The Things You Said," called "Malchik Gay." At first I was like "oh no, I hate Tatu"; but it's one of those songs that you think is stupid but at the same time you can't help but sing along. And then before you know it you're hooked. I thought it was only fitting that I should take this opportunity to share this gem with you especially given its name which means "gay boy".
t.A.T.u. - Malchik gay
Photo of St. Basil's Cathedral by Dmitri Azovtsev http://fotki.azovtsev.com. Photo of Tatu by Konstantin Koutsyllo/Reuters.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
More troubling news out of Russia.