Russia fomenting discord over guns, gays, race

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A 29-year-old Russian woman living in D.C. who was indicted last week for allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to clandestinely act as a Russian agent is part of a longstanding effort by Moscow to foment discord in the U.S. by exploiting divisive issues such as guns, LGBT rights, and racial bias, according to a source close to the investigation into the woman’s activities.

After hearing evidence presented by federal prosecutors, a D.C. grand jury on July 17 indicted Maria Butina on charges of criminal conspiracy and illegally acting as a foreign agent within the U.S. A U.S. District Court judge the following day ordered her held without bond after prosecutors said she had moved out of her D.C. apartment and was at risk for leaving the country.

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U.S. sanctions Chechnya officials behind anti-gay crackdown

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: The U.S. has used the Magnitsky Act to sanction Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov over human rights abuses in the semi-autonomous Russian republic. Photo by Alexxx1979; courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. on Wednesday imposed sanctions against two Chechen officials under a 2012 human rights law.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and Ayub Kataev of the Chechen Internal Affairs Ministry are among the five Russian citizens who have been added to the list of those sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act, which freezes the assets of Russians who commit human rights abuses and bans them from entering the U.S. The law is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after authorities arrested him after he investigated a $230 million tax fraud scheme.

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Hundreds of thousands at Brazil’s massive gay pride parade

By : Wire Report
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SAO PAULO (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of revelers gathered in Sao Paulo June 18 for one of the world’s largest gay pride parades with this year’s event focusing on the threat of religious fundamentalism to Brazil’s LGBT community.

Under a giant rainbow-colored flag, revelers of all ages, many wearing bright wigs, turned the city’s Paulista avenue into a multicolored sea of people filling more than 10 city blocks. Organizers said they expected 3 million people to participate in Sao Paulo’s 21st annual gay pride parade, though military police did not release a crowd estimate.

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Russia set to move closer to decriminalize domestic violence

By : Wire Report
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MOSCOW (AP) — In Russia, giving one’s spouse a slap is nothing extraordinary for many people. This week, the Russian parliament is expected to take a step closer toward decriminalizing it altogether.

Battery is a criminal offense in Russia, but nearly 20 percent of Russians openly say they think it is sometimes OK to hit a spouse or a child. In a bid to accommodate conservative voters, deputies in the lower house of parliament have given initial approval to a bill eliminating criminal liability for domestic violence that stops short of serious bodily harm or rape.

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Putin says gay athletes and guests will feel “comfortable” at Olympics

By : Wire Report
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Sochi, Russia (AP) – President Vladimir Putin promised Monday that gay athletes and guests at the Winter Olympics in Sochi will feel at ease, seeking to assuage fears fueled by a recent Russian law banning gay “propaganda.”

Speaking at a meeting with heads of Russian winter sports federations, which was also attended by visiting IOC President Thomas Bach, Putin said Sochi would be fully tolerant.

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IOC wants more info from Russia on anti-gay laws

By : Wire Report
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Moscow (AP) – The International Olympic Committee is waiting for more clarification from the Russian government on the anti-gay law that is overshadowing preparations for the Winter Games in Sochi.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. It has caused a major international outcry and spawned calls for protests ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in the Black Sea resort.

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