By Thom Senzee
Originally published on Advocate.com September 03 2014 7:34 PM ET
Two city councilmen from Murmansk, Russia, are under government investigation for "inciting hatred" after they released a video that features the pair congratulating one another for being "against loudmouths and gays" following a poorly executed digital animation of Eurovision winner and Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst.
The video, alllegedly posted by Murmansk council members Oleg Guz and Almaz Gismeyev, features simplistic cartoon illustrations of Wurst, along with a slogan that The Hollywood Reporter translated as "against empty talkers and gays."
The Moscow Times, however, disputes the validity of claims that the councilmen themselves posted and promoted the video.
Nevertheless, both the Moscow Times and Hollywood Reporter agree that complaints from GayRussia.eu and other Russian LGBT rights groups prompted an official government investigation into charges that the six-second video "incites enmity and hatred."
If the councilmen were hoping their ad would mock and disparage Wurst's popularity, it appears their plan may have backfired: rather than obliterating Wurst's image in Russia, the 25-year-old Austrian drag performer's now-iconic face has appeared with nearly every news report about the video. Still worse for the self-described foes of "loudmouthed gays," many reports have also included links to the bearded entertainer's winning performance of "Rise Like a Phoenix" at the 2014 Eurovision competition in May. When not performing, Wurst is also known as drag performer Thom Neuwirth.
Attempts last spring by Russia and Armenia to edit or remove Wurst from the 58-years-running Eurovision song contest similarly backfired — and actually built support for the singer. On Monday, U.K. LGBT site Pink News reported that a campaign to create an alternative, "family-friendly" Russian alternative to Eurovision has been abandoned.
Watch the Russian video, which may or may not be an officially endorsed campaign ad, below: