Russian Ambassador: ‘There’s no homophobia in Russia – Putin met Elton John’
The Russian ambassador has denied the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya – partly because President Putin has met with Elton John, according to reports.
Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to the UK, was giving a talk at the Oxford Union on May 29, when students grilled him about Russia’s LGBT rights record.
He was asked by a student: “Ambassador, I’m a gay man and if I was living in Chechnya over the past year I may have been killed tortured or imprisoned.
“I’m therefore asking on behalf of Chechens who have no voice – why has no-one who perpetuated or condoned these crimes been bought to justice and also I’d like to ask you when the LGBT+ community in Russia will have their rights, not only as citizens but as human beings.”
In a rambling response, the Ambassador is reported to have told students that he could not be sure that gay people existed in Chechnya, that Russia is a safe place for LGBT people and that Elton John had met President Putin – so homophobia did not exist in Russia.
He added that if LGBT people didn’t like living in Russia they could move to a different country where there are more LGBT people.
According to Cherwell, the student paper, Yakovenko said: “That is exactly what we’ve discussed with Elton John. He had a conversation with President Putin about this before. And later on there were a lot of publications in Britain about the gay rights and all this.
“By the way, I have a lot of friends who are gays. I have no problem with that. If you live in Russia or the so-called minority communities you have all the rights the same as others.”
When asked if he agreed with claims made by some Chechen authorities that Chechyna doesn’t have any gay people, he said: “Well I don’t know. It’s difficult to say if there are any gay people in Chechnya.”
The official followed by claiming that sometimes the Russian police simply got nervous when gay people protested.
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