Russia: Deputies seek defamation charges against gay rights activist

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Two deputies in the Russian State Duma have requested that prosecutors file criminal charges of defamation against a gay rights activist, because they say he insulted public officials on Twitter.

The two deputies, Yelena Mizulina, the head of the Committee on Women, Children and Families, and one of the leading sponsors of Russia’s recently introduced law banning homosexual “propaganda”, and Olga Batalina, are both from the ruling United Russia party.

A report on 29 July in the daily newspaper Izvestia, the pair say gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev insulted them in a series of tweets.

If chargers were to be filed against Alekseyev, and if he were to be convicted, he could face up to a year in prison, and a fine of up to 40,000 rubles (£800).

Speaking to the newspaper, Mizulina said she had not felt offended by Alekseyev’s tweets, but that she felt obligated to “defend the interest of all deputies”.

The upper house of the Russian Parliament voted last month to approve both a bill banning adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples and the nationwide anti-”propaganda” bill banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors.

The bills, which have since been signed by President Vladimir Putin, bans foreign same-sex couples and unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex marriage is legal from adopting Russian children.

Last week, speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT citizens following concerns about gay athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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