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Russia arrests nightclub employees for 'extremist' drag show

Abused afraid people Russian police Nightclub Raid Drag Queen Show
footage stills via telegram @RepublicMag

Video showed performers stripped half-naked and forced to lie on the ground with patrons during the raid.

Authorities in Russia have arrested two nightclub employees and accused them of establishing an outlawed extremist group for hosting a drag show. The case is believed to be the first of its kind in the country following the passage of a new law that defines nearly all LGBTQ+ organizations as extremist.

Club manager Diana Kamilyanova and art director Aleksandr Klimov were taken into custody following a police raid on the Pose nightclub in Orenburg this month. Assisting in the raid were members of the Russian Community of Orenburg, a pro-war Russian nationalist group that had reported the drag show to authorities.

“Police and members of a local nationalist group, who had reported on the club, forced patrons and guests to lie face down on the floor,” Amnesty International said in a statement. “Performing drag queens were kept half-naked as their outfits and wigs were confiscated. The nationalist activists filmed the raid and posted the video online the same day.”

ROC posted a video of the raid as well as a list of seized items at Pose and the homes of employees to its Telegram channel. The list noted multiple video recorders, laptops, and smartphones, along with two dozen sets of women’s clothing, 15 wigs, and a set of false breasts.


Last November, the Russian Supreme Court granted a request from the country’s Ministry of Justice to label the “international LGBT social movement” as “extremist” and illegal.

The decision was made behind closed doors and took less than four hours for the judges to reach. On November 18, Russia’s Ministry of Justice announced it had petitioned its country’s Supreme Court to declare the “international public LGBT movement” an extremist element and ban its activities within the country.

“The Russian Ministry of Justice has lodged an administrative legal claim with the Supreme Court to recognize the International LGBT public movement as extremist and ban its activity in Russia,” the ministry said in a statement at the time.

Since then, various Russian authorities have conducted a series of raids on groups and businesses they say are in violation of the law.

Last month, Russian police and undercover agents raided a Moscow nightclub featuring an unofficial gay night, kicking and beating patrons as they lay prone on a snowy sidewalk and also making nine arrests. On the same day, a convention in Tula dedicated to My Little Pony closed early after it was raided by police in search of illegal LGBTQ+ content.

In January, a woman identified as Anastasia Ershov was sentenced to five days in custody for the crime of wearing frog earrings with Pride colors. The crime was revealed in a staged videotaped encounter with a man objecting to her earrings that took place on January 29.

“The international community must call on Russian authorities to review the homophobic Supreme Court ruling and immediately stop persecution of LGBTI persons,” Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia director, said in the statement. “It is imperative to ensure that all human rights are enjoyed by everyone without exception.”

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Donald Padgett

Managing Editor at OutTraveler. Also write for Out, The Advocate, and Plus magazines.

Managing Editor at OutTraveler. Also write for Out, The Advocate, and Plus magazines.