Disturbing Video Shows Extremist Group Taking Gay-Bashing in Russia to a New Level


Ever since Occupy Wall Street took over Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011, Occupy movements have been springing up around the world for various causes. Many of these groups have generally positive aims, but one of the newest and fastest growing movements is purely sinister. Operating in Russia, Occupy Pedophilia is an organized group that might best be described as semi-legal, neo-Nazis who are targeting, humiliating and sometimes brutally beating Russia's gay population.

Based out of Kamensk-Uralsky, Occupy Pedophilia uses various social media avenues to go "on safaris," contacting and luring members of the LGBT community (mostly gay men) into meeting them, then humiliating, beating and, in some instances, even torturing the men with sodomy. The group operates under the pretext of protecting children and preventing pedophilia to hunt down gay men, which has been made especially easy for them since "pedophile" and "gay" have become synonymous in Russia. 

The U.K.'s Channel 4 recently aired a documentary entitled Hunted, which provides a look into homophobia in Russia, especially the actions of Occupy Pedophilia. A short excerpt below shows members of Occupy talking about their day's plans and later luring and beating a gay man in their apartment. At one point in the video, members of the group also try to define their place in Russian society:

"Everyone seems to think that 'Occupy Pedophilia' is a homophobic organization and that we fight gays, not pedophiles. I have said many times that although of the 30 pedophiles I have personally caught, 28 were gay, it doesn't mean that I am fighting gays."

"Gays have nothing to do with it."

"Yeah, but it's gays who turn up."

"That's true."

(Warning: some of the footage in this video is extremely disturbing.)

What's perhaps the most troubling aspect of Occupy Pedophilia is that although it is an independent group with no official political affiliation or backing, it has become the de facto goon squad of Vladimir Putin's radical right government. Ever since adopting brutally repressive "homosexual propaganda" laws, which effectively make it illegal to be gay or talk about being gay or even the fact that gay people exist, it's been easier and easier for groups like Occupy Pedophilia to just barely skirt the law and torment gay people. 

"By turning a blind eye to hateful homophobic rhetoric and violence, Russian authorities are sending a dangerous message as the world is about to arrive on its doorstep for the Olympics that there is nothing wrong with attacks on gay people," Tanya Cooper, a Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the New York Times.

But perhaps "turning a blind eye" is putting it lightly. A pro-gay activist in Hunted remarks that due to Russia's turbulent economic situation with its citizens' pensions, salaries, health care and education, people are upset and looking for a scapegoat, a group of relatively helpless people to hate. 

"To stop people from focusing their anger at the authorities, the regime is igniting and maintaining this conflict and hatred," Katya Bogatch, the activist says. "They are making people fight amongst themselves."

(Warning: some of the footage in this video is extremely disturbing.)

There have been a number of incidents when pro-gay rights protesters clashed with anti-gay groups like Occupy Pedophilia, and in many of them, it's the peaceful protesters, not the hateful attackers, who are detained and carried away by police forces. 

Image Credit: AP

And Russians have largely come to support the propaganda laws. In a study conducted by the pro-Kremlin Russian Opinion Research Center, 88% of respondents said they support the new law, up from 59% in 2005. At the same time, the number of supporters of LGBT rights has decreased from 14% to 4%.

But even though these laws are supported, the majority of Russians, whether they understand it or not, believe the law and its efforts are futile. In a June 2013 study conducted by the Yuri Levada Analytical Center, when asked if "gay propaganda" could change a person's sexual orientation, 64% of interviewees said "definitely no" or "likely no," while another 18% didn't know how to answer. That means that while 88% of Russians support the law banning "gay propaganda," 82% of them aren't even sure that "gay propaganda" does anything at all. It's just an excuse to abuse people. 

A video released by the Human Rights Watch on Feb. 4 shows exactly how bad some of the attacks and actions by groups like Occupy Pedophilia have become — and these are just the ones that have been caught on camera and shared online. (Warning: some of the footage in this video is extremely disturbing.)

"First they shut us up with their laws so we cannot say anything in our defense, and then they say we are similar to murderers and perverts," a gay man who suffered a brutal beating and lost sight in one eye at the hands of Occupy Pedophilia told the Channel 4 crew in Hunted. "If it's constantly drilled into people that we are murders, scum and perverts, I understand why these guys shot at me. If you repeat something all the time, sooner or later there will be a click, and they will pick up a gun and go and shoot."

Quite clearly, it's getting to the point where the human rights abuses in Russia are amongst the worst in the world and lawless vigilantes are given terrifying free reign to hunt and beat gay people, and the situation is only a spark away from blowing up into something truly heinous. One member of Occupy Pedophilia was noted as saying that the only reason they weren't killing gays was because it is illegal. Hopefully that law will stay in place — but given Russia's recent track record on gay rights, a time may come when Russia devolves into a genocidal state that stops at nothing to eradicate gay people. Maybe neo-Nazis was putting it lightly.