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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Annals of the Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Gays

The New Statesman reports on what happens when a group of homosexuals tries to have a little protest party against the neo-Soviet crackdown on gays on a boat on Russia. Things went fine for a little while . . .

Then the atmosphere changed. The boat came in to dock at the second stopping points to find a jetty lined by paramilitary police. Rumours spread that they were not letting anyone on or off the boat. I pointed out how grim-faced the officers looked peering out from under their visors. “You would also not be smiling if you were paid the same as the soldiers in our army” someone said. A few heated exchanges with an officer ensued. A short-haired woman - who looked like Rosa Klebb out of From Russia with Love - patrolled the side of the boat, her hand on her holster. In the end the tension subsided and the boat moved on. Perhaps they were there to protect the boat from a boarding party of nationalists. It seemed unlikely. It also seemed absurd that a supposed European democracy like Russian was using its armed forces to police a peaceful cruise down the river. Where were these troops being diverted from – guarding a missile silo, patrolling the Chinese border? The day after the cruise religious Orthodox extremists took an iron-clad ship down the Moscow river to “cleanse it of the filth”.

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