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Friday, August 23, 2013

Chris Hayes Interviews Russian Journalist Masha Gessen

Posted by on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Required viewing—watch:

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And here's what Gessen had to say a town hall meeting in New York City the night before:

Roughly 100 people, including many Russian and Eastern European emigres, gathered at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to hear author and journalist Masha Gessen, who described the dire circumstances for LGBT Russians in Russia.

“We’re kind of past the point where silence can ever protect,” Gessen told the crowd during the August 21 meeting. “At this point, the more Russians know and the Kremlin knows that the world is watching, the safer we feel on the ground.”

And Russians and the Kremlin are watching and listening to the response that has swept around the globe since Russia enacted its anti-gay propaganda law in June. The law bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the Internet. With the law, Russia has effectively criminalized being out of the closet or supporting the LGBT community.

“One of the best moments of my time was when I was in my car 10 days ago in Moscow and I turned on the radio and they were talking about the vodka boycott on every radio station,” Gessen said. “That is getting media attention. It was really, really amazing, Suddenly we’d been granted visibility that we hadn’t had in years.”

In other developments: the day after declaring that Olympic athletes and visitors would face arrest for violating Russia's laws against "gay propaganda"—and that there was nothing discriminatory about these laws because gays and straights would arrested equally—today Vladamir Putin issued a "terror decree" banning public meetings, marches, rallies and protests during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Says John at Americablog:

And there’s an even greater headache now for the International Olympic Committee: Any violation of Russia’s draconian anti-gay “propaganda” law during the Sochi Olympics is now a violation of a Russian anti-terrorism decree. That would seem to raise the crime of being openly gay to an entirely new and dangerous level: An act of terrorism. And what exactly is the price one pays for violating anti-terror decrees in Russia? Our Olympians may soon find out.

And another must-read piece in the Guardian by Nancy Goldstein:

This double standard, whereby the IAAF or the IOC awards major sporting events to nations with gross human rights violations in defiance of their own charters, and then mandates that athletes to shut up and behave like nothing's happening—so long as they don't see any LGBT people being beaten bloody, arrested, or tortured within the stadium walls—has begun to wear thin. There are simply too many athletes challenging it, too many public figures opposing it, and too many corporate sponsors and world leaders becoming increasingly anxious about the possibility of winding up on the wrong side of history.

People of good conscience have already begun turning down invitations to visit Russia. Earlier this week, Wentworth Miller, the star of Prison Break, came out while declining an invitation to the St Petersburg international film festival, saying he could not "participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly." The Miss Universe Pageant may be trying to pull an NBC and have it both ways—saying that they object to the laws, yet refusing to change their venue—but their equivocating is lost in the dust of co-host Andy Cohen's brave refusal to play the game. Cohen released a statement that he "didn't feel right stepping foot into Russia as a gay man."

Go read the whole thing.


Comments (24) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Man, all this shit's just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.
Posted by GermanSausage on August 23, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Report this
mkyorai 2
Doubling down in the face of loud, near-universal condemnation. How very... Russian.
Posted by mkyorai on August 23, 2013 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 3
The Church is the silent partner, the evil man behind the curtain. Putin is not the sole player in this. But he is the nation's leader and hence must take full responsibility.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on August 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
biffp 4
It is easy to make the analogy to the Nazis beginning their persecution of gypsies, gays, Jews in the 30's. We have the benefit of history, and the IOC cannot repeat the mistakes of the 1930's. IOC has to be dictating the minimum standards, and not the Kremlin what is obviously no more than lip service.
Posted by biffp on August 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Twilight Sparkle 5
Good on you Dan. You, personally, are making a difference, promoting the boycott and putting this issue on the map. You might even save a life.
Posted by Twilight Sparkle on August 23, 2013 at 9:33 AM · Report this
thatsnotright 6
So the mega-yacht "Serene", owned by the owner of SPI (Stoli) is moored in Elliot Bay. Local ship suppliers are creaming over the business it's bringing them for repairs and maintenance. Does it's stay have to be serene? Maybe it can be a focus for protest.
Posted by thatsnotright on August 23, 2013 at 9:37 AM · Report this
lolorhone 7
The IOC is going earn a permanent reputation as disingenuous, mealy-mouthed cowards if it doesn't sack the fuck up and call out the Kremlin's human rights violations as unacceptable- as its charter already does.
Posted by lolorhone on August 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Any good video satirists out there who want to make a spoof propaganda video?

With all products now gearing up for the olympics by slapping the rings and, "Proud Olympics Supporter" on their packaging, it'd be awesome to see a video of people throwing away those products saying, "I'm doing my part!" to boycott the olympics and its sponsors.

"Just look for the interlocking rings and 'Olympics Supporters' on packages before you buy, it's placed in a conveniently conspicuous location!"

"They're doing their part to support the human rights of LGBT people. Don't delay, throw away, today!"

Or whatever. A fun, campy, spoof video could have the potential of going viral, especially if it specifically targets well-known brands in a brutally humorous manner.
Posted by Drew2u on August 23, 2013 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 9
What worries me is, after the Olympics are over, Putin the Tyrant will get much worse, for revenge. I could see him revive the gulags.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 23, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
rejemy 10
I'm starting to think that our athletes should just boycott and not go. I wouldn't go if I were them. Let Russia host an under-attended Olympics.
Posted by rejemy on August 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
watchout5 11
Here I was, hating on the Olympics before it was cool, you're welcome.
Posted by watchout5 on August 23, 2013 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 12
@10: athletes don't have careers of unlimited length. you're at the pinnacle of your sport for maybe 2 olympics, tops. if you were them, you'd go.

i'd rather they went and spoke out than give up their one shot at a lifelong dream.
Posted by Max Solomon on August 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM · Report this
James6 13
#12: people who aren't willing to give up their: chance at an Olympic dream, money, publicity, political power, etc, over a major violation of human rights--they're all part of the problem.
Posted by James6 on August 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Fnarf 14
@12, even shorter than that for a lot of athletes. Female gymnasts are famously dependent on the hormones of puberty, and it's common for them to hit their pinnacle of weight-to-strength ratio between games, causing them to miss out entirely.

@6, really? Where is it docked?
Posted by Fnarf on August 23, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
After they worked so hard I don't really expect the atheletes to boycott. But we can boycott watching, and we can boycott the advertisers.
Posted by MikeB on August 23, 2013 at 11:26 AM · Report this
scary tyler moore 16
Pier 91, fnarf.
Posted by scary tyler moore on August 23, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
onefatamerican 17
@14, its docked over at pier 90, as of this morning.
Posted by onefatamerican on August 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM · Report this
onefatamerican 18
Here's a pic, to aid would-be protesters:…

so very...vulgar.
Posted by onefatamerican on August 23, 2013 at 11:59 AM · Report this
John Horstman 19
While the nationalism of the Olympics and implicit favoring of wealthy countries (where there are more people who are going to be able to afford to get formal athletic training as children and pursue careers as athletes) have always bothered me, I like the IOC even less now.

Let's go make our own international pan-athletic competition. With blackjack. And hookers.
Posted by John Horstman on August 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Perhaps a mass dumping of Coca Cola in the gutters would be appropriate in the near future. Perhaps picketing Sony retailers would get some corporate attention. There are lots of Olympic sponsors and we are a very creative community. Let the Games begin!
Posted by kwodell on August 23, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 23, 2013 at 1:46 PM · Report this
I think what may be most effective is to simply appropriate the 'rainbow' color olympic rings as a logo of protest. because they are part and parcel of the games, it will allow athletes, spectators and others the opportunity to voice their opposition. Make that logo a large, visible symbol of protest. It is safe, it is obvious, and it erodes the sanctity of the IOC institution at the same time.
Posted by Chris Jury on August 23, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
@ 8, can't find a link but saw an image popping up on Facebook today of the Olympic rings as an bloody knuckleduster, best "iconic" image so far by a long shot
Posted by dutchie on August 23, 2013 at 10:06 PM · Report this
I've heard it said that Vancouver should host the winter Olympics again, and I've also heard it said that there's not enough time to make that happen.

But there is if we postpone the winter Olympics by two years to coincide with the same year the Summer Olympics are held! Just like tradition! Solves the boycott-for-four-years problem with athletes' peak athleticism, I think.
Posted by gromm on August 28, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this

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