A new report from the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, which aims to support LGBT rights in Eastern Europe, claims that Russian skinheads allegedly used a popular social media site to lure LGBT teens in order to torture them.
"Infamous Russian ultranationalist and former skin head, Maxim Martsinkevich, known under the nickname ’Cleaver’ (or ’Tesak’ in Russian) spearheaded a country wide campaign against LGBT teens using a popular social network VK.com to lure unsuspected victims through personal ads," the report reads.
The report goes on to say that the groups, "Occupy Pedophilyaj" and "Occupy Gerontilyaj," are allegedly trying find and report pedophiles on social media.
"Over 500 online groups have been created inside VK.com social network in order to organize illegal militant groups in every Russian city," the report reads. "Oddly enough their idea of fighting pedophiles targets exclusively male teenagers who respond to the same-sex personal ads and show up for a date."
The report alleges the victims who were lured, were bullied and often tortured while being recorded on film. The men apparently did this during the day and outside and the general public indifferently walked by them, according to the report.
Clips of the incidents "are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends," the report reads. The report also alleges that some of the teens were driven to suicide or were left "deeply traumatized."
"So far Russian police took no action against these ’movements’ even though Russian criminal code was clearly violated and despite numerous complaints from parents, victims and LGBT activists," the report reads. "Social network VK.com intermittently shuts down selected groups and profiles only to allow them to be re-open on the next day. Currently, the founder of VK.com, Pavel Durov, resides in the US and so far has not released any comments."
Russia has come under fire over the past year after government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, approved of the controversial "homosexual propaganda" bill, which prohibits people from sharing information about LGBT issues to youth. Those who violate the law can face substantial fines and jail time.
Additionally, tourists suspected of being gay (or promoting homosexuality) can be detained under the law.
Earlier this week four Dutch tourists who were visiting Russia were detained while trying to film a documentary about human and gay rights. The group was later released, however.
Last weekend, Broadway star Harvey Fierstein wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, criticizing Russia’s anti-gay laws and comparing them to Nazi Germany.
"Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook," Fierstein wrote. "Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered? Although Mr. Putin may think he can control his creation, history proves he cannot: his condemnations are permission to commit violence against gays and lesbians."
Fierstein went on to cite an incident in which " a young gay man was murdered in the city of Volgograd. He was beaten, his body violated with beer bottles, his clothing set on fire, his head crushed with a rock. This is most likely just the beginning."
As a result of the treatment towards Russian’s LGBT community, some are starting to boycott Russian products. Out pundit Dan Savage recently called for the American LGBTs to stop purchasing Russian vodkas in his weekly paper Seattle, Wash., paper, the Stranger.
"Seattle’s bars, gay and straight, must dump Stoli. Seattle’s drinkers, gay and straight, must dump Stoli," Savage wrote. "Some are arguing-based on Stoli’s outdated Wiki page-that Stoli isn’t a Russian vodka. ’Presently the internationally distributed version of Stolichnaya is not a Russian vodka but is distilled and bottled in Latvia,’ Stoli’s Wiki page reads. ’In 2009, William Grant & Sons signed an agreement to distribute Stolichnaya in the USA, taking over from PepsiCo.’ That’s old news.
"On January 1, 2014, Stoli becomes a Russian vodka again," Savage continued. "The SPI Group -- which will be distributing Stoli in the USA before the Olympic games begin this winter -- is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia. Stoli is a Russian vodka."
He urged his readers to switch to other vodkas, "or even a local brand from a local distillery," adding, "Stoli is the iconic Russian Vodka and it’s returning to Russian ownership in 2014. Other brands like Russian Standard should also be boycotted. Do not drink Russian vodka. Do not buy Russian vodka. Ask your bartender at your favorite bar -- gay or otherwise -- to DUMP STOLI and DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA."
In addition, Sidetrack, one of Chicago’s most popular gay bars, is no longer serving Stoli over Russian’s anti-gay laws.
"Sidetrack cannot support a brand so associated with Russia at a time when Russia is implementing (against strong world criticism) its anti-gay law that bans gay ’propaganda,’ " the bar’s officials wrote on Facebook. "The Stoli story is complicated by decades of lawsuits whereby the actual Government of Russia has laid claim to the Stolichnaya brand name. Very soon the Russian government itself, which bans positive portrayals of LGBT people, may be the beneficiary of the goodwill earned by Stoli’s distributors and bars over the years."
As the Huffington Host points out, another Chicago gay bar is boycotting Stoli. The Call said on its Facebook page it is "proudly serving non-Russian vodkas."
Warning: The video below is graphic. It shows one of the victims who were lured in by the alleged skinheads.
From our media partner EDGEJason St. Amand