St. Petersburg: Judge Avoids Propaganda Law

By Brett Edward Stout

Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2012 6:10 PM ET

A straight Russian man who was arrested for violating St. Peterburg's new so-called anti-propaganda law was found guilty of "disobeying police orders," but was ultimately not charged under the propaganda law.

Sergey Kondrashov said in a statement, that he believes the courts are too trepidatious to test the new law.

The judge's ruling today was that Kondrashov was guilty of article 19.3: disobeying police orders by refusing to stop displaying the sign. The more significant charge of homosexual propaganda, article 7.1, was not ruled on by the court. The judge addressed the lack of ruling by stating that she had no evidence or protocols to make a decision on the violation. 

Kondrashov said he intends to continue the fight over this law by appealing the ruling. “The courts are afraid of applying this law and do not want to take responsibility for its further enforcement practice. The decision of the judge is illogical and questionable not only to the lawyers eyes, but also to common citizens’ ones. I am determined to appeal against this ruling,” Kondrashov said in a statement. Kondrashov, who is himself a lawyer, further explained that the judge’s failure to rule on article 7.1 was illogical because it isn’t possible to disobey a police order without first determining whether the person was violating a law that warranted the order in the first place.

Kondrashov was arrested with Igor Konchetkov on April 7 for holding pro-equality signs outside the Oktyaberksy Theater. He was holding a sign that read, "A dear family friend is lesbian. My wife and I love and respect her &...her family is just as equal as ours."

Kondrashov's case was nearly jeopardized when one of the witnessed failed to come to court. The hearing was supposed to include testimony from a police officer named Panov about Konchetkov's arrest. The officer had been given a court order to appear at today’s hearing, but it is unknown why he failed to appear.