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13 Jun 4:00am

Gay rights abuses, war crimes and World Cup fever – it’s an ugly mix

The Guardian
I’m in Russia – but I’m not here for the football. Fifa has allowed the sport to legitimise Putin’s abnormal regime – and I’m here to protest I’m in Moscow trying to lie low and evade the Russian security service the FSB. I’m exhausted from the stress. It’s my sixth time in the country; each time I’ve visited in order to support LGBT+ campaigners who were attempting to hold a Pride parade and festival. On every occasion, these were suppressed by the authorities, sometimes violently. I’ve been arrested twice and once been beaten almost unconscious. This time I’m here for the World Cup – but unlike thousands of fans I won’t be cheering on this festival of football. There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like that of Vladimir Putin. LGBT+ people and many other Russians suffer state-sanctioned persecution and far right violence. These abuses need to be challenged – that is why I am in Moscow.
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