Berezovsky’s new plan: gay parades replacing Dissenter Marches

The Other Russia fancied itself to be a grand opposition alliance, but ended up destroying its reputation with the unfortunate Dissenter Marches. Now its chief sponsor, fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, has come up with another destabilization idea: funding and promoting gay parades in Russia.

The Other Russia fancied itself to be a grand opposition alliance, but ended up destroying its reputation with the unfortunate Dissenter Marches. The coalition’s collapse doesn’t seem to have distressed its curators abroad. Fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who has made no secret of funding the Other Russia’s public events, still hasn’t abandoned the idea of “blowing up” Russia from within by taking advantage of protest attitudes among the masses. The Dissenter Marches were a lovely idea, really; but despite the millions of dollars Berezovsky provided, they deteriorated to drunken carryings-on by a few dozen teenage anarchists. And now, according to some reports, Berezovsky has come up with a new idea for generating those protest attitudes: he intends to use gay parades, which are causing more controversy in Russia every year.

Note that one of the latest banned marches by sexual minorities in Moscow happened at the same time as Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s controversial meeting with the mayors of London, Berlin, and Paris; the efforts of gay culture proponents turned this meeting into an attack on Luzhkov. To give Luzhkov his due, he behaved quite properly, presenting consistent arguments for his stance on not permitting mass assemblies of gays in central Moscow. But this still produced negative publicity in Europe: television news reports showed Luzhkov’s speech alongside footage of Moscow police dispersing the unsanctioned gay march.

And this is the ace that Berezovsky has decided to play: according to our sources, the gay parade promotion campaign will start in mid-August (and last until the Duma election, of course). Rumor has it that around $100 million has been allocated for the campaign already; the scope is truly impressive. It’s worth noting that the organizers envision the gay rights marches as very similar to the Dissenter March protests: with the leitmotif of provoking police, local residents, and Orthodox Christian activists. Significant numbers of foreign journalists will be flown in, so that Russia’s lack of democratic liberties can be demonstrated to them in all its glory.

Given Luzhkov’s tough stance, of course, they can’t seriously expect to organize any such events in Moscow; therefore, according to our sources, the Moscow region has been chosen as a testing-ground. Rumor has it that the first gay parades should take place in Odintsovo, Pushkino, Korolevo, and Lobna.

Curiously enough, the first supporters have already come forward. Media reports quote Pushkino district lawmaker Mikhail Zubkov as saying that he has no objection to a gay parade being held in Pushkino on City Day, September 8.

Opponents have also come forward. Another lawmaker from Pushkino, Sergei Zaburniyagin, contradicted Zubkov: “This is a deliberate act of provocation, aimed at discrediting the Pushkino municipal administration.”

Dmitri Kamchatkin, head of the International Union of Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Veterans, responded with military-style directness: “Public events of this nature, especially if timed for City Day, are beyond unacceptable – they’re essentially criminal, and the organizers should be prosecuted.”

In short, early autumn promises to be hot in the Moscow region. The gays, joined by the remnants of the Dissenters, could become a fairly serious irritant for the local authorities – and that’s exactly what their curators abroad want. All the infrastructure is already in place (sources say the gay parades will be organized by Eduard Limonov’s National Bolshevik Party, which gained the necessary experience in the first wave of Dissenter Marches); funding has been allocated; sexual minority groups are frozen in anticipation… And that’s the peculiar kind of opposition we have in Russia these days.