Gay Russian Activist Questioned for Twitter 'Insults'
A prominent LGBT activist in Russia was summoned by the nation's Investigative Committee to address allegedly insulting statements he made on Twitter about a member of the State Duma who helped write Russia's ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.
Nikolai Alexeyev reported to the Investigative Committee in Moscow today, but said he was unsure which one of his more than 10,000 tweets allegedly slandered Elena Mizulina, deputy of the State Duma.
Mizulina's complaint alleges that Alexeyev posted rude and offensive remarks about her and her first deputy, Olga Batalina, after the lawmakers joined with the larger State Duma to pass a nationwide ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in June, according to The Moscow Times. If Alexeyev is found guilty of slander by mass media, he could be fined 1 million rubles ($30,000) or be ordered to do 200 hours of community service. If he's found guilty of insulting a government official in connection with their legislative duties, he could face one year of "correctional labor" in a prison camp, according to the Times.
But outside the courthouse this morning, Alexeyev said it was the deputies who were out of line.
"They offend millions of people with their initiatives and laws, such as the gay propaganda law. I'm just expressing my public stance," Alexeyev told Russian news outlet Izvestia, according to the Times. "I'm confused what it was that I said on Twitter that insulted Mizulina and Batalina. Investigators can reread 10,000 tweets if they want, I do not."
The lawmakers claimed they opened the investigation to dissuade others from "slandering" Russian officials.
"Every person is free to agree or disagree with this or that law," Batalina told the Times. "But expressing an opinion should not prevent other people from doing their professional duties. That's why we decided to file this request, in order to protect the interests of all lawmakers."