On the night of December 2, the police raided a nightclub on Malaya Yakimanka in Moscow during an LGBT party, the Telegram channel “Caution, Moscow” reported . According to the channel, about 300 people attended the event; police raided the establishment under the pretext of searching for drugs. Several visitors were detained.
“In the middle of the party, they stopped the music and [the police] started entering the halls. There were also citizens of other countries at the party. On the way out they took photographs of passports without permission to do so. The scheme was worked out, this is how similar clubs in St. Petersburg were closed. Someone is panicking,” said one of the guests of the establishment.
The channel later reported that all participants were released when their passports were photographed.
“I thought that’s it, I’ll be imprisoned for 12 years. We didn’t understand, 300 of us stood naked, wearing only shorts, and waited for our clothes to be brought out. And no one understood what was happening,” said a party participant in a conversation with the Telegram channel “Caution, News” .
Similar raids took place in other thematic establishments. According to Caution, Moscow , they began around 22:00 Moscow time on December 1. Law enforcement officers checked a club near the Avtozavodskaya metro station and a strip club for men near the Polyanka station. The administration of the establishments warned visitors in advance about the police visit. The check also took place in a bar near Chistoprudny Boulevard.
“There was an ordinary party, the owner comes out and says that within an hour people in uniform will come in connection with the recent law. Within 20 minutes, the dance floor began to empty,” said eyewitnesses.
In addition, the administration of the establishment reported that a popular singer was supposed to perform at the bar, but she refused the event. The message does not specify who we are talking about.
According to the channel, raids also took place in “LGBT saunas.” In particular, security forces came to the men’s premium bathhouse near Tsvetnoy Boulevard.
“Everything is going on like a regular drug raid. No violations were detected, but the mood was spoiled. It was indelicate in the sauna, with show masks, they put everyone face down,” eyewitnesses told Beware, Moscow .
LGBT clubs are closing
On the evening of December 1, the Central Station club in St. Petersburg announced its closure. The Fontanka publication called it “one of the oldest gay clubs in St. Petersburg.”
“Unfortunately, the site we rented refused to allow us to work due to the law. We apologize, we are no longer working,” says a message on the club’s VKontakte page.
Recently the club was located on Konyushennaya Square, where it moved after the spring police raids on Dumskaya Street. In March of this year, about 20 establishments were sealed on Dumskaya and Lomonosova streets, and 13 bars were closed in April. According to the Investigative Committee , this was done as part of an investigation into a criminal case involving teenagers in the systematic use of alcohol.
According to Fontanka.ru , the authorities of St. Petersburg plan to turn Dumskaya into a pedestrian street with a cultural and gastronomic space. There will be restaurants, bars, clubs, street cafes, and a food hall. In addition, a children’s playground and ice skating rink will be installed there to attract visitors.
LGBT recognized as extremist
The lawsuit was filed by the Russian Ministry of Justice , in its assessment that the movement’s activities contain “various signs and manifestations of an extremist orientation, including incitement of social and religious hatred.” The department did not specify what exactly it considers a movement, who is in it or how it is organized.
On the same day, at the Forum of United Cultures in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that LGBT people are part of the community:
“They, too, these topics and these people, have the right to win, show, tell. Because this is also part of society. This is also what people live by.”
In 2013, Russia banned the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors. In 2022, the law was expanded to include a ban on the dissemination of such information among adults.