“Your dick—where is it?” Police and special forces are raiding private parties in Russia, in search of the “international LGBT movement”
Никита Сологуб|Алла Константинова
“Your dick—where is it?” Police and special forces are raiding private parties in Russia, in search of the “international LGBT movement”
23 February 2024, 14:09

Photo: VK group "Petrozavodsk Alive"

Just in the past week, Russian law enforcers raided several closed parties. People in masks, carrying automatic rifles, harass and beat guests, demanding confessions that they are members of the international LGBT movement,” which was recently banned in Russia. Local news reports portray the raiders almost as if they were fighting organized crime. Mediazona decided to investigate this trend and talked to several of the partygoers.

Five hours on cold floor

On the morning of February 18, a dozen riot police with machine guns, wearing masks, burst into a private house in the village of Koltyshi, Leningrad region. In the operational footage, which was published by the scandalous pro-Kremlin REN-TV channel a few days later, about ten people are lying on the floor with their hands behind their heads. “Everyone, hands behind your head, hands! So, everyone who is a boy at birth, up and at ‘em, and go over there to the wall,” one of the policemen shouts. Later, interrogations of detainees are shown. The interrogators seem mostly interested in their biological sex and attitude towards LGBT people, which they all deny.

“In the house, they found symbols of the LGBT movement, banned in Russia, suspicious documents and handwritten propaganda materials, as well as drugs that case will soon be opened.

Although the report calls the party “noisy,” one of its participants says that there were only 16 people there, gathered on the occasion of the birthday of one of them. Waking up after the celebration with an alarm clock, Mediazona’s interlocutor heard screams on the first floor. “I have [psychiatric diagnosis], and at first I thought it was some kind of trick in my head, this happens. But when a masked man in a helmet came into our room and started yelling, I realized that this was not a joke,” they recall.

All guests were placed on the cold floor of the first floor. The police took turns lifting the young people “by the hair and by the neck” for questioning on camera. At the same time, the operatives went through the bags and clothes of the detainees: some of them had condoms, somehow stuff that resembled “LGBT symbols,” some came to the house from a kinky party and had sex toys. Almost everyone was found to be in possession of various pills—many of the guests were diagnosed with mental illness.

“They made very nasty jokes, swore at us, said we’re all fucked up, wished us death,” the visitor recalls. “They walked around and asked everyone if they are a boy or a girl, and those people whose gender they weren’t sure of were called to the investigator. And then they were forced to show parts of their bodies: one girl was asked to lift her skirt, pull her leggings up tighter. My friend had to show scars from [surgery]. There were questions all the time: oh, your dick, where is it?”

According to Mediazona’s interlocutor, the detainees spent a total of about five hours laying on the floor. During the last three hours, they weren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom, because the host of the party refused to unlock their phone. If the policemen didn’t like the poses in which the people were taking on the floor, they kicked the detainees. After all this abuse, everyone was released without any charges, despite the “threat of a criminal case” in the REN-TV story. They lost several thousand rubles and sex toys, says one of the guests of the party.

Do push-ups and sing the Tula anthem

Just a few hours before the raid in Koltyshi, security forces disrupted another gathering: the Amore Party, which took place at the Typography cultural center in Tula, on the night of February 18. The party was dedicated to “openness and sexuality.” As a result, nearly a dozen visitors were charged under the administrative offence of “LGBT propaganda.”

Several scenes from the raid were caught on video. In one, a man in plain clothes beats another man who is lying in the snow. Uniform police who are standing by don’t pay any attention to the beating. “Who are you talking to like that? Who are you talking to, you little shit?” he asks, kicks the young man in the torso, then punches him in the head. He then picks the man up, hits him in the head again and complains about a broken watch strap. Another video captured the first appearance of security forces at the Typografia. They shout “Everyone lie down!” and “Come here, bitch!” A man on the street near the entrance says that he doesn’t have anything to do with the party, but the security forces still put him on his knees and then drag him inside.

One of the visitors says that “the event was small and wasn’t set up as an LGBT party,” although some of the people belonged to the community. But the pretext of the police break in was “dispersal of LGBT people,” he explains. Inside the room, security forces divided people into two groups: male and female. “The guys were beaten, even kicked, put down on the floor, punched in the face. They interrogated me, filmed what was happening, stripped me naked, forced me to do squats, push-ups and sing the Tula anthem. They threw other guys face first into the dirt, beat them with shockers, doused them with water. Everyone was forced to say their name, place of studies, if there was one, and it was all recorded on a phone. They searched everyone, took pictures of everyone’s passports, and constantly shouted something about LGBT,” the Tipografia visitor recalls.

People with dyed hair were taken to one of the local police precincts and charged with “LGBT propaganda,” which is an administrative offence.

“Ratted out everyone, including the cops”

Two days later, on February 20, an article was published on the Karelia.News website with a flashy headline: “Activities of a large LGBT community have been suppressed in Petrozavodsk.” The piece was devoted to a raid at the Full House club party on February 19, at the capital of the Republic of Karelia, in the North-West of Russia. The event was private, but FSB operatives and the National Guard found out about it.

Photo: VK community "Petrozavodsk Alive"

Citing its own sources, the website wrote that a local resident who “used the Full House club for thematic gatherings” was suspected of “organizing a community united by association with LGBT culture.” “Passage was granted only to representatives of the LGBT community known to employees, as well as persons accompanied by them,” Karelia.News reported. “The doors were closed for the duration of the event, and management sent out individual invitations the day before. Persons providing assistance in the operation of the establishment were also selected on the basis of belonging to the LGBT culture.”

According to the article, the FSB considered the “list of people” invited to the party to be “very impressive” and even “shocking”: “Married and divorced people, mothers who have up to three children. The range of professions of the participants is also very impressive: a hotel employee, an owner of a flower shop, salespeople from a hardware and construction supplies store, a manager of a mobile operator, a archivist, cook, a waiter, a hairdresser, a massage therapist, a former bathhouse employee. There is even a car mechanic and a security guard on the list. A teacher at one of the educational institutions of Petrozavodsk and a famous athlete were also under suspicion.”

Mediazona contacted the woman who is referenced to as the event organizer, but she refused to comment and said that she should consult a lawyer.

Oksana, a resident of Petrozavodsk, didn’t attend the party, but from the stories of her friends she knows what happened on the night of February 19 during the raid on the club: “They say that evening the club was packed like never before, about 60 guests. People were thrown to the floor with no distinction, both boys and girls. I know that many took a beating, guys especially. Many people had their phones taken away and they still didn’t get them back. Personal videos are leaking. They won’t talk, everyone is intimidated.”

According to Oksana, the organizer of the parties “was threatened with imprisonment and told to hand over everyone,” that’s how the list of guests surfaced. Mediazona’s interlocutor doesn’t know whether some kind of report was drawn up against her friend.

“They pressured her, so she gave away a list of everyone who attended these parties,” Oksana says. “Especially famous people [in Karelia]. She ratted everyone out, including the cops who always went there [to LGBT parties]. Employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service and the Tax Service also paid regular visits. But for some reason, in that article [Karelia.News] they listed all the professions except these.”

She believes that the FSB agents will now “start pushing” and blackmailing people from the list. Scapegoats will be found, “if they get the order.” According to Oksana, the organizer of the parties in Petrozavodsk told some of the quests that after the law “on LGBT propaganda” came into force, she was summoned to the FSB department for Karelia: “She told them that 20 people were attending parties once a week. And they were like: ‘Okay.’ Apparently, she wrote in group chats that the parties were ‘allowed.’”

Editor: Dmitry Treshchanin

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