The country's sexual minorities face a rash of legal and extra-legal harassment.
Russia's embattled gay and lesbian community has had a lot to contend with in recent months. Earlier this year, the country's second city, St. Petersburg, passed a law banning "homosexual propaganda." The law's supporters claimed it was necessary to "protect children." Now, LGBT activists in the city can be arrested and fined for anything that is deemed to promote homosexuality.
Besides slamming the legislation for seemingly codifying homophobic attitudes, critics say it is very vague in its wording and open to abuse by the authorities. Other cities, such as Arkhangelsk and Ryazon, have also adopted comparable laws and a bill to introduce a similar regulation across the entire country has been put before the State Duma.
Rights campaigners maintain that this is legitimizing widespread, often violent, hostility toward same-sex relationships in Russia. "Such a law increases the possibly that people will consider that attacks on homosexuals are justified," Amnesty International's Frederike Vehr told RFE/RL in June. "The fear is there."