Thursday, February 6, 2014

As the Games Begin: Three Videos to Remind Us of What's Really Happening in Russia

As the Sochi Olympics begin, three videos to remind us of what's happening in Russia outside the bright lights of the carefully managed spectacle--and (third video) elsewhere in the world, as neo-Nazi groups akin to those now given free rein to beat and kill gay people in Russia march through the streets of Paris shouting hate slogans:

As Mark Joseph Stern notes, a study done by Oleg Kucheryavenko, Kirill Guskov, Michael Walker and recently published in the Harvard Health and Human Rights journal confirms what human rights activists have been trying repeatedly to tell the world since Russia passed its draconian anti-gay laws: "Gay people in Russia are being beaten, raped, and murdered at record rates—and the government is doing little to stop it."

As those interviewed in the first video below note--a video by Human Rights Watch documenting one assault on gay Russians after another--neo-Nazi thugs are now permitted to attack, torture, and kill gay citizens of Russia because they can do so. Gay Russians are, as one of those interviewed points out, simply "toys" for neo-Nazi thugs to play with.

Gay citizens of the nation have instrumental value for Mr. Putin as he consolidates his power. As he wields his power by loosing hard-right wolves on the most vulnerable citizens, in order to deflect attention from serious social problems and to unify the nation under his leadership around perceived threats to social well-being. . . . 

This is what should make us take note when neo-Nazi thugs parade through the streets of Paris one week to inform Jews that they are not welcome in France, and the next week to give the same message to gay citizens of the country: same message, same dynamic, from Moscow to Paris. The 21st century is opening with scenes that many of us thought we'd put behind us by the middle of the 20th century.

Here's the video documenting anti-gay violence in Russia that the Human Rights Watch recently put together: 

And here are Amy Goodman, Samantha Retrosi, and Dave Zirin discussing the situation in Russia in its various ramifications, as the Sochi games prepare to start (the discussion of Sochi begins around 10.35): 

Finally, here are neo-Nazis parading through the streets of Paris at the end of January, shouting, "Jews out!." As John Aravosis points out in the posting to which the link points, the following weekend, the same protesters, joined by members of France's "religious right" who oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples, marched again to demonstrate against gay couples and their rights.

(I'm indebted to Andrew Sullivan at his Dish site for the link to Mark Joseph Stern's Slate article.)

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