Many Russian celebrities who showed up scantily clad at a “nearly naked” themed party in Moscow are facing fierce backlash at a time when the country is at war in Ukraine and authorities are pushing an increasingly more conservative.
The party, organized by blogger Anastasia Ivleeva on December 20-21 at the capital’s Mutabor club, drew criticism from Orthodox Church officials and pro-war activists, as well as pro-Kremlin MPs.
One of the participants, rapper Vacio (Nikolay Vasilyev), who showed up with a sock to cover his genitals, was sentenced to 15 days in prison and fined 200,000 rubles (about $2,200) after a Moscow court ruled that the event was intended to “propagate non-traditional sexual relations.
Vasiliev was convicted of crimes including “petty hooliganism.”
“Nikolay Vasiliev (better known as rapper Vacio) participated in a party at the “Mutabor” nightclub, disrupted public order, used vulgar language and distributed publications on Telegram channels aimed at promoting sexual relations non-traditional in mass media on the Internet,” the court decision states.
In recent years, the Kremlin has expanded a series of anti-LGBTQ laws, a conservative shift that intensified after the invasion of Ukraine. Last month, Russia’s Supreme Court declared the “international LGBTQ movement” an extremist organization.
The backlash against the party in Moscow comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin increasingly focuses on traditional values rather than what he has described as the decadence and immorality of the West as he seeks to be re-elected in March 2024.
Vasiliev was among those who were present at the party to issue a public apology.
Organizer Ivleeva initially said the partygoers’ fashion choices were their own and claimed the event was an opportunity to showcase photos taken during her tenure as editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Playboy.
On Wednesday, Ivleeva released a new video lasting more than 21 minutes in which she tearfully apologizes, asking for forgiveness and a second chance, or public condemnation.
A lawsuit seeking compensation of 1 billion rubles ($11 million) for moral damage was filed Tuesday against Ivleeva for organizing the party, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
One of the other participants, pop star Anna Asti, had a New Year’s event canceled at another Moscow club, the venue said on its website.
“Dear friends, for reasons beyond our control, the performance of Anna Asti has been postponed to a new date, which we will announce soon,” the message reads.
On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment: “As for this party, I ask for your pity: let us remain the only ones in the country who do not discuss this topic.”
Ekaterina Mizulina, a pro-war activist and president of the Safe Internet League, on Wednesday thanked Russian police for their response and shared screenshots on Telegram of messages purportedly from worried and outraged citizens.
“How can I explain to my nephew, who, while participating in a special operation, lost both legs and became disabled, why he fought and why he found himself disabled, for Ivleeva’s underwear? ” one of the messages read, referring to the official Russian euphemism for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Organizing such events at a time when our young people are perishing in military operations and many children are losing their fathers is cynical,” Mizulina said in her own message. “Our fighters on the front lines are certainly not fighting for this. »
Vitaly Borodin, head of the Federal Project for Security and Combating Corruption, expressed outrage, calling the event “sodomy, obscurantism and LGBT propaganda,” urging the interior minister to send police to the disco Mutabor.
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