Putin’s new Russia – woman receives jail time for rainbow frog earrings

LGBTQ flag illegal extremist propaganda Rainbow Frog Earrings Russian leader Vladimir Putin
LGBTQ flag illegal extremist propaganda Rainbow Frog Earrings Russian leader Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladymir Putin’s crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community notched its first two victims last week.

Last year the Russian Supreme Court declared the undefined “International LGBT Social Movement” an extremist organization allegedly operating to corrupt traditional social values within its borders. A series of raids and arrests followed the declaration.

On Thursday, a Volzhan man identified as Artyom P. pleaded guilty to posting a picture of a Pride flag to Russian social media, according to the court’s press service.

“At the court hearing, the man admitted guilt in committing an administrative offense, repented, explaining that he posted this symbol ‘out of stupidity,’” the statement read. “For committing this offense, by decision of the Volzhsky City Court, Artyom P. was assigned an administrative penalty in the form of an administrative fine in the amount of 1,000 rubles.”

In a separate and more serious case in Nizhny Novgorod, a woman identified as Anastasia Ershov by the independent Russian news site Zona Media was sentenced to five days in custody for the crime of wearing earrings with Pride colors. The crime was revealed in a staged videotaped encounter with a man objecting to her earrings that took place on January 29. Her male friend was accosted for wearing a badge with the Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow.

“Come on, take down the flag, b*tch,” the male attacker says in the video as he rips the Ukrainian flag badge from the male victim’s sweater.

Ershov tried to defuse the situation, but the attacker threatened to report her to police. Hours later, the video was posted to Russia social media, including by the misogynistic and pro-war Russian blogger Vladislav Pozdnyakov.

Pozdnyakov is a proponent of a fringe movement known as Male State, which glorifies white Russian men while denigrating women, non-white individuals, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Last year he wrote on his blog that “feminists and LGBT activists are bio-garbage” and “psychologically sick people who have no place among normal people,” according to RFE/RL.

The court heard that crack Russian investigators determined each earring depicted a frog sitting under a mushroom. While the mushroom was found to be using approved colors of red and white, the frog was emblazoned with bars of the seven colors used in the Pride flag and was, therefore, illegal extremist propaganda.

Last year, the Russian Supreme Court granted a request from the country’s Ministry of Justice to label the “international LGBT social movement” as an “extremist” element. In December the government responded by raiding a series of gay and LGBTQ+ bars.

“This shameful and absurd decision represents a new front in the Russian authorities’ campaign against the LGBTI community,” Marie Struthers, director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said in a statement and before the raids. “The ruling risks resulting in a blanket ban on LGBTI organizations with far-reaching violations of the rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to be free from discrimination. It will affect countless people, and its repercussions are poised to be nothing short of catastrophic.”

A third case involves Inna Mosina, a 33-year-old photographer, for posting pictures of the Pride flag and other banned symbols, according to Zona Media. Mosina faces up to 15 days in jail and a fine of 2,000 rubles.