Last week, Buzzfeed published a set of photos from a St. Petersburg LGBT march that was, like most LGBT street actions right now, set upon by nationalist groups and ended in violence and arrests. I ran across it after a couple of friends (who don’t have any particular connection to Russia) posted it on Facebook. I’ve been glad to see that this area of conflict has been getting some coverage outside Russia, even reaching people who aren’t in general tuned into Russian current events. All the same, the photos and their presentation followed a very common pattern in coverage of LGBT issues in Russia.
A juxtaposition in my news feeds today:
First, the infamous Edward Snowden, having received temporary asylum status in Russia, seems to have finally left the purgatory of Sheremetyevo Airport’s transit zone. There’s some discussion about where he might end up: privileged enough to take up a tech job reportedly offered by the social networking site VKontakte, or just another asylum seeker destined to end up in a rotting trailer in a Perm asylum camp (via Susan Armitage)? One can guess that the latter is unlikely–Snowden is a public figure whose movements are (at least for now) of great interest to the international press. He also possesses some symbolic value to the Russian state, and perhaps could be useful in the future as a bargaining chip with the US. All of these factors appear to give him a relatively privileged status among those who cross borders without documents. Yet the fact remains that without a secure right to permanent residency anywhere, with his citizenship in a sort of limbo, he is vulnerable. Whether the Kremlin decides to house him in a prison camp or a penthouse, he has relatively little choice in the matter. Continue reading