Russian president Vladimir Putin may have sent president Obama a telegram earlier this week voicing his support and sympathy for the vicitims of the massacre in Orlando — calling the shooting “barbaric” — but it seems Russian citizens need to be more cautious with their own efforts to honor those same victims.
On Monday, a gay couple was detained for hours by Russian police for “unauthorized action” after attempting to leave flowers and a sign reading “Love Wins” outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
“We only wanted to express our condolences for the murder of these people and we had not at all planned any kind of political act,” Islam Abdullabeckov, who was arrested along with his boyfriend Felix Glyukman, told France 24.
As New York Magazine’s Beta Male blog notes, the distinction between showing support for the Orlando victims and a “political act” is key in Moskow. Distribution of “propaganda” promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors has been illegal in Russia since 2013, effectively banning any sort of demonstration advocating for LGBT rights in the country.