A popular lesbian nightclub in St. Petersburg was raided Thursday, in what appears to be a direct response to a viral picture that involved two kissing women and outspoken antigay politician Vitaly Milonov.
Infinity Nightclub was raided on Thursday by government officials responding to claims that the club was allowing underage patrons inside and selling illegal drugs, reports U.K. LGBT site Pink News. Infinity is a dancehall on St. Petersburg’s popular main thoroughfare Nevsky Prospect.
The nightclub is owned and operated by Kseniya Infinity, one half of the same-sex couple who recently took a photo of themselves kissing on a flight the couple was sharing with Milonov, a key architect of Russia's nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda.
After the photo went viral, Milonov threatened to shutter the St. Petersburg club.
"I didn't understand what they are doing but they have a nice sense of humor," Milonov told reporters shortly after the picture went viral. "I also have a good sense of humor. I will perhaps continue this joke by closing their gay club in St. Petersburg."
He went on to describe the women as "mentally ill," reports Pink News.
The complaints that prompted the raid were the result of a concerted effort of a Russian antigay group called "Moscow — Not Sodom! Petersburg — Not Gommorrah!" according to Global Voices. A posting on the group's VKontakte page, often called the Russian equivalent of Facebook, offered members a scripted letter to file formal complaints with the St. Petersburg prosecutor alleging that Infinity was "a lesbian club where [sodomites] corrupt young girls."
"Before the eyes of everyone on board a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg, they demonstrated their perverse inclinations, causing a scandal on the Internet," read the antigay group's VK post, before offering form text to file complaints.
It's unclear how — or if — Milonov is directly connected to the antigay group which targeted the club, though the St. Petersburg city councilman did promise that he would "get to work" on investigating the club after the women's selfie went viral.
This isn’t the first time Milonov has made headlines regarding his outspoken anti-LGBT sentiments.
In October of last year, he called for a lifetime ban on Apple CEO Tim Cook entering the country, claiming the newly out executive would bring "the Ebola virus, AIDS, [and] gonorrhea to Russia."
Milonov is known internationally as the author of a citywide ban on public images and demonstrations that call attention to LGBT issues, which was later expanded by President Vladimir Putin into a countrywide "gay propaganda" law. In the past, he has expressed his beliefs that Russians are the victims of hate crimes committed by gays, that gay people rape children, and that actor Stephen Fry is a "bringer of evil" for opposing Russia's antigay laws.