Today, the Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow considered the demands of Karen Shainyan, a journalist and the most popular LGBTQ+ blogger in a Russian-language segment of YouTube. He requested to be removed from the register of “foreign agents”.
On April 15, the Ministry of Justice of Russia included Karen in the register for creating the YouTube channel “Open Conversation with Cheerful People”, in which, according to the department, “there are discussions on the issues of tolerance towards the LGBT community and homophobia” with “more than 140,000 subscribers.” Other reasons are publications on his Telegram channel about LGBT people, the case of Yulia Tsvetkova, as well as reposts of Meduza, the TV-Rain channel, where Karen Shainyan used to work. The state considered the receipt of funds from Google as foreign funding.
Separately, Roskomnadzor recalled the video “Adoption by gays: will you choose such Russia?”, which the state prosecutor tried to ban in 2021 for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” In this video, the author reviewed the latest scientific evidence that raising children in same-sex families does not negatively affect their development. In September 2021, the prosecutor abandoned his claims in court and the case was dismissed.
“By including Karen Shainyan in the register, the state continued the homophobic campaign when, from November 2021 to January 2022, the main Russian LGBT organizations appeared in the register of ‘foreign agents’. The next step was the inclusion of individuals [in this register],” says Maxim Olenichev, Karen Shainyan’s representative in court, who represented him with the support of ADC Memorial.
In July 2022, Karen Shahinyan litigated the actions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding his inclusion in the register and the order of the Ministry of Justice to include him in the register.
The administrative lawsuit details the arguments that Karen can neither be a “foreign media” nor a media outlet; The Ministry of Foreign Affairs illegally agreed on its inclusion in the register, since there is no legal and publicly known procedure; such actions of the state impose additional obligations on him; the very inclusion in the register violates his rights to respect for private life and the exercise of professional activity.
In his position, Karen emphasizes that the law on “foreign agents” was applied to him discriminatorily and only because he is an openly homosexual person and a journalist who openly discusses issues of sexual orientation and gender identity having a wide audience. The same position was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice in its objections to the administrative claim.
Today, the court denied Karen’s demands.
“This decision is not unexpected. In the entire history of ‘foreign agents’ since 2013, no one has yet succeeded in cancelling the status of a ‘foreign agent’ in Russian courts. But we will appeal against the court’s decision in order to achieve justice in international bodies,” says Maxim Olenichev, Karen Shainyan’s representative in court.
“The state decided to label me as a “foreign agent” for my journalistic work about debunking stereotypes against LGBTQ+ people,” says Karen Shahinyan. “It won’t stop my work or change my values and attitudes. LGBTQ+ people should not be restricted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Maxim Olenichev’s page on Facebook
Maxim Olenichev in Telegram: @maxormax