Russia: Gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev seeks urgent meeting with Vladimir Putin

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Gay rights activist and Russian pride organiser Nikolai Alekseyev has officially requested a meeting with Vladimir Putin after the President claimed he was willing to speak with members of the LGBT community in a recent interview.

In an interview with Associated Press, Putin said he would meet members of the LGBT community if they asked to see him.

This morning, Nikolai Alekseyev, who was the first man to be convicted under St Petersburg’s local homophobic censorship legislation in May 2012, tweeted that he was officially requesting a meeting with Putin as he wants to discuss “the situation surrounding LGBT in Russia and in the whole world.”

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the President, issued a statement shortly after Mr Alekseyev’s request that Vladimir Putin will consider the meeting but must first hear the proposed “agenda.”

Mr Peskov added if the proposed issue of discussion is urgent, a meeting could be organised promptly, but also expressed personal doubt that the problem was really a “burning” one.

The presidential spokesman also noted that this possible meeting had nothing to do with the planned meeting between US President Barack Obama and Russian LGBT activists that is expected to take place during the coming G20 summit in Russia’s St Petersburg.

He said: “That is Obama’s schedule. In this case Putin has his own schedule for this period of time.”

In his interview with Associate Press, Putin claimed that gay people would not be discriminated in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

He said: “I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields. We have absolutely normal relations, and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.”

President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial 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.

Last month, police in Moscow reportedly raided the home of Nikolai Alekseyev.

On his Facebook page, Mr Alekseyev declared that the officers had been in his home for three hours and in the process “destroyed everything”.

Mr Alekseyev has been a leading opponent in Russia of laws governing gay “propaganda” – and also recently criticised those in the West for appearing to jump on a boycott bandwagon of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

On 17 August he tweeted: “Western media has no respect for Russia and its people and LGBT population included. What they report about Sochi and gay propaganda is sham.”

“All Western media want to hear from me that Russia is shit and I don’t want to take part in this hypocrisy. So all interviews are over!”