How liberal outrage pushed a homophobic troll video to the top of Russia’s political agenda

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06/05/2020

As far as storyboards go, the advert was as inept as it was crass. The year is 2035. Two gay men are in the process of adopting a child. A worried boy asks where his mother is. Orphanage workers look on with concern. An effeminate actor in eyeliner, “mum”, gets out of his car. “Is this the Russia you choose?” asks a voice from off-screen. “Decide the future of your country and vote for amendments to the constitution.” Given the history of politicised homophobia, it was easy to link the video to the Kremlin and its forthcoming plebiscite on allowing Mr Putin to annul presidential term limits. Most of liberal Russia did just that. Pyotr Verzilov, a media publisher and spokesperson for Pussy Riot, was one of the first to express indignation. “AAA! Official campaign video: vote for the amendments or GAYS WILL TAKE ALL RUSSIAN CHILDREN HOME WITH THEM,” he wrote on Twitter. Russia’s independent media — and many western commentators — largely followed suit.

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