Gay club named Kremlin refuses to ditch name amid war in Ukraine

On the left: Street view of the Kremlin bar. On the right: Headshot of Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin nightclub in Belfast, Northern Ireland has said it has no plans to change its name anytime soon.

The decades-old bar, on Donegall Road, is one of the country’s largest LGBT+ nightclubs, promising partygoers a “sexy and Soviet night out“.

It’s pretty dedicated to the theme: there’s a “red square” dance area, a Tsar cocktail lounge and both a mural and a life-size statue of Vladimir Lenin, who orchestrated the coup that created the Soviet Union.

Since Russia declared war on Ukraine, governments, gas companies, tech firms and banks are scrambling to sever themselves from Moscow.

Kremlin’s managers, however, aren’t rebranding anytime soon for one simple reason – to give Russia’s aggressively anti-LGBT+ president Vladimir Putin the “middle finger”.

Russian-themed LGBT+ nightclub Kremlin keeps name as a ‘political stance’

The Kremlin, the club’s manager told the Belfast Telegraph, has “always been Kremlin, a massive gay club that has always supported the LGBTQ community”.

“If anything this is a big middle finger to Putin.”

The Kremlin, which also holds a club night called “Revolution” as well as “Industry Sundays”, stood in solidarity with Ukrainians last month.

“Kremlin was set up over 22 years ago,” read an Instagram statement from the bar, which was paired with a Ukrainian flag.

“Its theme was inspired by the uprising of the Russian worker’s revolution led by Lenin and meshed with the opulence of the Tsar Nicholas’ Palaces.

“When it was passed that it would be illegal to be gay in Russia, we received many messages asking us, would we change Kremlin’s name?

“We saw it as an even bigger political stance to keep the Kremlin name as it is.

“A bar that is gay-owned, gay-managed and in the heart of the gay community for nearly a quarter of a century — everything Putin detests.”

In less than three weeks, at least 1,900 civilian casualties, mainly from the result of shelling and airstrikes, have been recorded by the United Nations’ human rights agency. While more than three million have been displaced, the United Nations’ refugee agency has found.

“Seeing what is unfolding over the past couple of days has been heartbreaking,” Kremlin managers continued.

“The images will remain with us for a long time to come. We pray that this ends soon.

“This Kremlin stands with Ukraine. We see you at this immeasurably difficult time and we send our love and prayers.”