By Michael Schwirtz and Joshua Yaffa, New York Times
Moscow, Russia - They came, they said, to clean the square. Every evening for several weeks, a dozen or so Orthodox Christian youths gathered at a chapel monument in a central Moscow park around seven o’clock in the evening, roping off a perimeter and shooing away the people chatting and drinking beer on the chapel steps.
The youths—who call themselves the Georgiyevtsy, after St. George, the patron saint of Moscow — said they were trying to chase away the gay men who cruise the area to meet friends and look for sex.
“They are gathering around a holy place, and engaging in very shocking activities, kissing, and not only,” said Diana Romanovskaya, a 19-year-old organizer of the youth patrol, who said she and others were inspired after advocates for gay issues attempted a demonstration in Moscow in May.
The nascent signs of gay activism in Russia — including protests and an increasing presence on the Internet — have produced a social and political reaction, encouraged by prominent political leaders like Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov
The patrol around the chapel, which also serves as a memorial to soldiers killed in the 19th-century war between Russia and Turkey, has also attracted members of various nationalist groups, who have melded the antigay demonstration with their own battle against migrants from the Caucasus, who, they claim, similarly threaten Russia’s traditions and culture.
Books about Russia on my shelf:
- Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (2005)
- Metro Stop Dostoevsky: Travels in Russian Time by Ingrid Bengis (2003)
- Open Lands: Travels Through Russia's Once Forbidden Places by Mark Taplin (1999)
- The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz (1955)
- A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck and Robert Capa (1948)