John Aravosis has an excellent piece up detailing the anti-gay skinhead movement’s success in St. Petersburg, Russia, focusing specifically on the city’s police chief, Lt. Gen. Sergei Pavlovich Umnov (Сергей Павлович Умнов), who seems to be actively ignoring the movement:
Lt. Gen. Umnov (Умнов) is a very important man, whose even won awards for being such a great police chief in St. Petersburg. So one has to wonder why it’s been so difficult to get Lt. Gen. Umnov to do his job, and break up an anti-gay Hitler-loving neo-Nazi gang that spends its Sunday afternoons kidnapping and torturing young gay men in St. Petersburg. It’s not a terribly difficult job catching these people – the kidnappers not only film their victims and post the videos online, they also film their own faces during the abduction and torture. It’s not exactly forensic rocket science figuring out who they are. So why won’t Lt. Gen. Umnov do his job? Is it that Lt. Gen. Umnov doesn’t think he has to defend the laws of Russia when gays are the victims? Or maybe Lt. Gen. Umnov is simply soft on Hitler? It’s interesting that Lt. Gen. Umnov seems to have done little to stop the vigilante kidnappings by avowed Hilter-sympathizers. Russia has a rather proud history of fighting the Nazis during World War II, and winning, after a horrifically devastating Siege of Leningrad in which 1.5 million Russians died. You’d think Lt. Gen. Umnov would have a little respect for what is known in Russia as “The Great Patriotic War.” But it appears you’d be wrong.
John does the sleuthing himself and finds that these groups are not only out in the open, but that they’re using social media like Instagram and the Russian site VK.com to boast about their violence and intimidate LGBT people:
You see, St. Petersburg is a hot bed of extremism, and it’s “crawling with skinheads,” according to an American Russia expert. And this was verified through our follow-on investigation of our story yesterday about a Russian woman named Katya (Ekaterina Zigunova), who runs the St. Petersburg branch of a nationwide vigilante group that kidnaps and tortures gay youth, films the entire affair, and then publishes the video on Russia’s most popular social media site, VK.com, outing them to the world. (Interestingly, Zigunova’s Facebook page is under the URL: https://www.facebook.com/logunova.katrina – suggesting her last name might actually be Logunova.) The group calls itself “Occupy Pedophilia,” has 30 branches, and claims to have abducted near 1,500 gay Russians in its 18 month existence. This is one of Zigunova’s recent kidnappings, which I reported on in detail in yesterday’s story. The head of the St. Petersburg branch, Zigunova, is also apparently a fan of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Both of the photos below are from Zigunova’s profile on VK.com. In the first, she does a Nazi salute while making a Hitler moustache over her lip. In the second, she helps her friend Daniil Konovalov sell busts of Adolf Hitler, “our ideological mastermind.” The use of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and VK.com by Occupy Pedophilia to promote its crimes, and in some cases actually organize its crimes, was a disturbing discovery in researching this story.
John also finds other figureheads in the movement, openly adoring Hitler and bragging about their anti-gay pursuits. I encourage you all to read the excellent, well-researched piece in full. He also updates us with news that Instagram has now pulled the accounts of Zigunova and one of her close associates, but that Facebook has not yet taken action.
Over the past several years in the United States, certain factions of our population have thrown around words like “socialism” and “communism” with little regard for the actual definitions of those words. When assessing Russia in 2014, the word “fascism” is however very appropriate. David Neiwert explains the real red flags here:
As I’ve noted previously, the real red flag when it comes to fascism isn’t merely the spread of scapegoating politics (focusing for now on gays and immigrants), producing eliminationist thuggery in the classic Brownshirt mold — it is when officialdom, the government authorities and church leaders, not only condone such behavior but encourage and reinforce it.
Or when police chiefs simply look the other way.