Russia: Ex-deputy PM questioned over lawmaker’s ‘gay and oral phobias’

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A former deputy Prime Minister of Russia, now a popular political blogger, reported on Facebook yesterday that he had been grilled by authorities about his views on the “gay and oral phobias” of one of the lawmakers behind Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law.

RIA Novosti reports that Alfred Kokh, deputy Prime Minister of Russia under former President Boris Yeltsin, was asked to give details on the phobias of Yelena Mizulina.

Ms Mizulina was a leading sponsor of the “anti-gay propaganda” bill, which passed into law as a ban on “propaganda of non-traditional relationships” in June.

News site claimed Ms Mizulina had also pushed for a ban on “propaganda of oral sex”. She denied the claim and threatened to sue the website for slander.

On Friday, Mr Kokh wrote on Facebook: “Two lieutenant colonels of the…[Investigative Committee’s] main investigation department spent three hours establishing the details of [State Duma deputy Yelena] Mizulina’s gay and oral phobias and my position on them.”

He said he was due to be questioned again on 21 August, and claimed Ms Mizulina had reported him for slander over his criticism of her conservative politics.

However, she denied naming him specifically, claiming she had complained to the Investigative Committee about unspecified online attacks against her and United Russia Party colleague Olga Batalina.

Mr Kokh is the latest public figure to be questioned over alleged slander against Ms Mizulina.

Socialite-turned-political activist Ksenia Sobchak said on Monday that investigators had called her in for questioning regarding the case about online insults posted against Mizulina and Batalina.

Last week, two deputies in the Russian State Duma requested that prosecutors file criminal charges of defamation against gay rights activists, because they say they insulted the two politicians on Twitter.

“Called by the Investigative Committee and summoned for questioning over the Mizulina insult case,” Ms Sobchak tweeted on Monday. “What will I face if I sincerely consider Mizulina a present-day member of the Inquisition?”

According to RIA Novosti, insulting a state official is illegal in Russia and is punishable with a fine of up to 35,000 rubles (£650), and community service.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. The law is based on one first passed in St Petersburg.

The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.