Moscow police shut down LGBT photo exhibits

Police in Moscow continue their harassment of LGBTI activists, allegedly as a means of enforcing the Russian law against positive depictions of homosexuality in the presence of minors, but actually targeting exhibits where minors are excluded.  Below are modestly edited excerpts from Queerussia’s coverage of the police disruption of the “Be Yourself” exhibition:

Moscow venue refuses to host pro-LGBT teen photo display, cites police pressure

The photo exhibition “Being Yourself” devoted to LGBT teens  failed to open in Moscow on June 12. Organizers blame unnamed Moscow policemen for disrupting the display, intimidating and harassing the staff.

In the newspaper Kommersant,  Tarja Polyakova, the exhibition organizer, described the visit of some unidentified policemen who came to her home and the Red Square gallery.

“Where is your show about fags and pedophiles?” the police allegedly shouted, while implying that they were from the Сenter Combating Extremism. Kommersant was unable to get official comments from the Moscow police.

According to Polyakova, police ordered the venue to ban the exhibition, threatening that, if not, they would to make the landlord terminate their lease.  …

The exhibition was to be open only for visitors over age 18, which is not prohibited by Russian law. …

Installing "flash mob" photo exhibit along Gogolevsky Boulevard in Moscow on June 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy of
Installing “flash mob” photo exhibit along Gogolevsky Boulevard in Moscow on June 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy of

Activists promised to organize a flash mob on June 13 in a Moscow park to  hang photos made by Marie Guelman and Dmitriy Roy in the open air without prior announcement.

In a post, Kireyev described the exhibition in the park:

It seemed to me that passers-by are responding to the exhibition with interest. I did not find anything criminal in the pictures, just pictures of teenagers. No one is kissing, no one is holding hands, no hint of anything. Everything is explained in stories of young members of the LGBT community posted next to the photos. …

More pictures of the exhibition are here and here.

Update: Police shut down exhibition in park

UPDATES — June 13:

Passerby views LGBT photo exhibit before it was shut down. (Photo courtesy of
Passerby views LGBT photo exhibit on Gogolevsky Boulevard in Moscow before it was shut down. (Photo courtesy of

Journalist Philipp Kireyev reports that the exhibition was opened on Gogolevsky Boulevard in downtown Moscow.

The photo exhibition was on display there for about four hours.

Policemen arrived after getting a call from a concerned citizen and removed the exhibition, photographer Denis Styazhkin reports in Instagram. Styazhkin  said policemen told him not to take pictures of the. TV Rain reports that Styazhkin was detained and interrogated at the Arbat police station by FSB officers and Center Combating Extremism staff. Later they let Styazhkin go, but a 16-year-old girl who came to see the show was detained with him and was held at the police station after Styazhkin was released.

For more information, read the full article in English in Queerussia.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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