Anti-Putin protests at Russian concert in San Francisco

Anti-Putin protests at Russian concert in San Francisco


norman lebrecht

March 04, 2014

There were demonstrations outside the concert of the St Petersburg Philharmonic and one peaceful protestor during the concert, drawing attention to Russia’s anti-gay laws and general aggression. The performance, conducted by Yuri Temirkanov on March 3 at Davies Hall in San Francisco was briefly delayed by a young pro-Pussy Riot feminist in a brightly colored balaclava, waving a rainbow flag.

Report here. Video below.


pussy riot sf inside 1

photo: Bill Wilson of Gays Without Borders


  • harold braun says:

    Has anyone ever interrupted a Pussy Riot concert because of lousy singing?Well,it’s about time!

  • Good. And if any Russian touring production arrives here, I plan to participate in comparable activism.

    • harold braun says:

      Rubbish,Mr.Williams.Completely idiotic,in fact,to blame a whole people for the faults of a few who are in power!

      And sure you feel very self satisfied in your self defined role as a fearless fighter for freedom.I hope at least you have more balls then this ridiculous bathetic jerk who didn´t even have the courage to show his face at the Termikanov concert.

      • You are mistaken. Russian opinion polls say otherwise:

        In free elections, people get the politicians they deserve. If you still think that Vladimir Putin and his Duma are out of step with the public, just take a look at the contempt the Russian public hold for their LGBT compatriots:

        “Let them speak” live television debate:

        How Russia enforces its ban on “gay propaganda”:

        1. It is illegal in Russia to say you are gay openly, if a person under 18 years of age even MIGHT be present. A 14 year old girl Maria Novikova was recently charged with “homosexual propaganda to minors” after she came out as a lesbian to her classmates: and

        2. Even though the Age of Consent for same sex relationships is currently 16, the same as for heterosexuals, it is illegal to provide counselling to 16-17 year old LGBT on this matter.

        3. It is illegal to protest against your mistreatment if you are disadvantaged by Russia’s recriminalisation of homosexuality, and you will be arrested and fined if you hold up a piece of paper in the street; Dimitry Isakov was reported to the authorities by his own parents: Likewise for the Italian politician Vladimir Luxuria visiting Russia for the Sochi Olympics

        4. It IS however, lawful for you to sack someone from their employment solely because they are gay or lesbian: Russian newscaster Anton Krasovksy was sacked on the spot after coming out as gay. This would not happen to a heterosexual:

        5. It IS legal to evict us from our living accommodation because we are LGBT

        6. When gangs attack young gay men and post thousands of videos of the torture online that identify the crime in progress, and recruit hundreds of gangs in all major cities across Russia to do the same or worse, the police take no action. and The one and only person ever charged for violence against gays was given a suspended sentence, and was cheered out of the courtroom by his supporters.

        7. It is legal to incite violence against LGBT people, and to call for all gays “to be burned alive in ovens”. Celebrity actor Ivan Okhlobystin was cheered by the audience when he called for this:

        8. It is legal to say our organs should be buried or burned as “unfit for the continuation of human life”, and if you are Dmitry Kiselyov and say this to a cheering Russian TV audience, you will be promoted to CEO of Vladimir Putin’s national news network and

        9. It is legal to defame homosexuals as pedophiles, especially if you are President of Russia:

        10. A new law is waiting for re-introduction in the Duma after Sochi ends, by United Russia party member Andrei Zhuravlyov that will seize even the biological children from their lesbian or gay parent and place them in the care of Russia’s notorious orphanage system: and

        11. At the next federal Russian elections, there will be a referendum sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church, to make same sex relationships once again a criminal offence in a return to the Stain laws. Recent opinion polls show support for this is likely to exceed 80%, making it a certainty to be carried:

        Russian crowds actually DO cheer attacks upon LGBT minorities. When the popular Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin said we should be “burned alive in ovens” the crowd cheered. When the talk show television host Dimitriy Kiselyov said organs of gay donors “should be buried or burned in the ground”, the audience also cheered at length He has since been promoted by Putin to be CEO of the new Russian state news network. It’s hard not to see this as in part a reward for “upholding moral values of Russia”. Putin himself has said he wants to “cleanse Russia of homosexuality”, and has told us to “keep away from the children”.

        Russians have been lied to by their government so they now honestly believe:

        1. Homosexuals are made and not born

        2. Homosexuals are predators who are after their children

        3. Homosexuals are out to make the whole straight world into homosexuals

        4. Homosexual orientation is directly linked to immorality

        5. Homosexuality is spread via “propaganda”

        6. Homosexuality is a Western phenomenon, and is “anti-Russian”

        7. Homosexuals can be turned into heterosexuals by persecuting us

        8. By converting gays ‘back’ into straights, the declining Russian birth rate will be reversed.

        All of these statements are 100% wrong. These are not facts, they are misperceptions, and they are being used as excuses for abuse. Given that they sincerely believe these lies are the gospel truth, it’s small wonder that they want to extinguish the citizenship of LGBT people.

        Once Russia has gotten past the Sochi Olympics, a new law is waiting in the Duma to remove by force even biological children from their gay or lesbian parents:

        The author of the bill is Alexei Zhuravlyov of the United Russia ruling party.

        The Russian Orthodox Church is likewise sponsoring a nationwide referendum to recriminalise homosexuality altogether. Opinon polls as above show this is certain to pass:

        I don’t blame ordinary Russian people as you think I do, because it’s clear they have been lied to by politicians and clergymen, and by opportunistic US evangelists like Paul Cameron, Paul Regnerus and Scott Lively – who is currently facing crimes against humanity charges in the USA for his fomenting of mob violence and criminal sanctions against LGBT in Africa. Their beliefs that gays are pedophile, immoral, predatory inbreds are based on these lies. Activist pressure from outwith Russia has been sought by LGBT activists within the country because they are now forbidden to disclose their sexual orientation in public, or to protest about mistreatment. They have been silenced.

        • harold braun says:

          I don´t deny that many of these activities are dreadful and absolutely unacceptable.But what does all this have to do with Maestro Temirkanov and the St.Petersburg Phil?Or,for that matter,what do they have to do with it?I am certainly against discrimination in any form,but that surely won´t stop me from enjoying the performances from russian artists and learning from them,many of them among the crop of classical performers around the globe.

          • If you have another more effective way of reaching the hearts and minds of the Russian people and their rulers, and of bringing the issue to world attention, I’d be glad to hear of it.

          • Anonymus says:

            Derek, the most effective way of dealing with issues is dealing with those that are in one’s immediate surrounding. And we here in the US and the west have home made problems en masse.

            Please do us the favor and do not fall for the propaganda battle de jour intended at demonizing the Russian regime, with intent to conquer and loot the country economically, an objective that was almost already achieved under Yeltsin, but then Putin happened and the usual suspects ever since are furious that the precious loot was denied to them.

            The gay issue deserves attention, but be aware of the bigger picture and those who use you as their useful idiot.

          • You could make a more convincing argument by being more specific in your rebuttal of my comprehensive post, such as by explaining the motivation of Channel 4 television to fake an entire documentary Hunted to defame the good LGBT loving people of Russia, and how live telecasts of Putin’s own statements can be faked?

          • Anonymus says:

            Derek, re Channel4: Russia’s population has held homophobic beliefs for as long as you live. (and longer) While that’s not nice, don’t you ever ask yourself why the “outrage” is orchestrated exactly now?

            Actually homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet times. And it still is illegal on paper in many US states, despite vein struck down by US supreme court in 2003.

            2003, that’s more than ten years later than in the former Soviet Union…

            Why don’t you focus your activism where you can make a difference, at home?

          • The “outrage” isn’t “orchestrated”, it is brought directly about by regressive and repressive moves enacted at law, not only in Russia but in other former Soviet countries and most of Africa and the Middle East that are moving to rob LGBT citizens of their citizenship. I agree that anti-gay sentiment was rife, just as anti-Jewish sentiment was in Germany before the Nazis. But once the mob is given imprimatur of authority by the state to go after vulnerable minorities out of pure hate and unreasoning prejudice, we are all compromised as members of the human race.

            The United Nations agrees:




        • cabbagejuice says:

          What a hypocrite Hillary is! She’ll say or do anything politcally correct to be a presidential candidate even if it is opposite to what husband signed in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act. Hopefully, the disaster and coverup in Benghazi will be remembered and not her fakey, self-serving speeches.

          The irony here is that adding an LGBT price tag to the package of aid and perks given by the US (of course without the support and even knowledge of most of American citizens) to third world countries, CAUSES a defensive backlash in them. These countries are already innundated by the trash that comes streaming in from Western TV. Forcing these values on them is seen as a form of cultural imperialism.

          Live and let live is generally the policy in the Middle East and Africa until the West steps in, chanting “freedom” on a soapbox and making a mess of things.

    • Mike Kay says:

      Mr Derek Williams – you and the likes of you – the ones calling themselves for some unexplained reason “progressives” – are a bunch of arrogant, under-educated, self-entitled moronic modern-day barbarians.

      • If you’re done with the name calling, care to explain why?

        • Derek has expressed himself in an elegant and eloquent manner.

          In return he has had words put into his mouth, and effectively told to man-up.

          There is no way Derek Williams can be described as “under-educated” or a barbarian! When the two of us disagree about a topic we at least attempt to keep it civil so that a coherent debate can ensue rather than a slanging match.

          BTW your post about life in Putin’s Russia was well said.

        • Mike Kay says:

          A person whose response to the disruption of a classical concert is “good” is a barbarian. N’est-ce pas? Especially if that person claims to be an artist and composer himself. Further comments in the thread above show a true xenophobic nature of Mr. Derek Williams, as he appears to be unable to differentiate between _nationality_ and bad governance system in a given country. Following Derek’s “logic”, Brits can be ostracized no less than he proposes to do towards _any_ Russian venue.

          • You place your private enjoyment of a concert ahead of the civil rights of other human beings? Peter Tatchell’s disruption of Gergiev’s Barbican concert lasted a few moments, and the concert went ahead after he was bundled off the stage, but even that is too much for you. Your private pleasure comes first.

            The people of Russia freely elected a government which has passed laws that have extinguished the citizenship of its LGBT minorities. Gay and lesbian Russians can legally be disowned by their families, evicted from their homes, expelled by their schools and universities, excommunicated by their church, shunned by their former friends, sacked from their jobs, threatened with being burned alive in ovens on national television, assaulted in the street, and if they protest, they are arrested for ‘extremism’, ‘homosexual propaganda’ and ‘hooliganism’. You clearly looked at everything I presented and have managed to come to the conclusion that this is all justifiable.

            Opinion polls show that a referendum sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church to make same sex relationships once again an imprisonable criminal offence in a return to the Stalin laws has over 80% popular support.and will therefore pass at the next Russian federal elections. Thus the “governance” and the “nationality” you mention become effectively one and the same.

            My response to Russia’s war on its own LGBT minorities is to protest in a country where we have the right to demonstrate, a right not enjoyed by LGBT minorities in Russia. That is not “xenophobia” at all. Russia made the first move when it recrimalised homosexuality supported by almost all of its people and 100% of its government. My activism is nothing more than merely vicariously defensive in response to pleas from invisified and silenced Russian LGBT activist groups.

          • cabbagejuice says:

            @Mike Kay Not only that, if one wants to change the minds and hearts of Russians, Africans or whatever, there is the need to show there is NO threat to religious liberty, to freedom of speech (self-censorship very much at risk), to running a business according to your beliefs and principles (not forced to bake cakes, photograph or host same sex couples), to public health (Africa & AIDS), sexualization of youth (exponential rise in schools being forced in and ages lowered), and last but not least, gross indecency parading down the streets (Folies Bergere do it indoors and children are not admitted).

            In the wake of the civil rights movement in the US, an inversion of discrimination ensued, giving preference in jobs and education to so-called people of color. Instead of promoting coexistence, more resentment has been fomented. This is the backlash of forcing people to accept you rather than proving yourselves. In Russia, maybe they don’t want naked tarts stripping in the churches.

            In more sexually enlightened countries including some in South America, churches increasingly are being raided and defiled in the name of “rights”. No one does a thing about it either and the media does not report it, or if it does, as a footnote.

            Certain groups act like crybabies if they can’t sexualize everything like not being invited to express and flaunt their boring sexualities at the annual St. Patrick Day Parade in New York.

          • 1. If “religious liberty” means “running a business according to your beliefs and principles”, then as a devout Christian, you would be entitled to refuse to serve couples of mixed race, since miscegenation is explicitly forbidden in several verses of the Bible.(Deuteronomy 7:3, Numbers 25:6-8, 36:6-8, 1 Kings 11:2), likewise anyone whose marriage is on the rebound, as the Bible explicitly forbids remarriage after divorce (Matthew 5:32), and you would be entitled to ask the woman if she was in her menstrual cycle as the Bible explicitly forbids marriage at that time of the month (Leviticus 18:19, 20:18, & Ezekiel 18:5-6) likewise, the Bible is clear that no marriage may take place between a Christian and any other denomination (2 John 1:9-11, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17). Finally, a woman not a virgin on her wedding night must be executed (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) which pretty much goes without saying if she is divorced. Where are their “strongly held religious beliefs” when it comes to divorce? How many “Christians” are working on a second, third or fourth marriage? Why aren’t they appalled by divorce? Why aren’t they upset to see a man and woman who have been divorced kissing? The bible clearly states:

            “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32, 19:9 & Luke 16:18) “…whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her” (Mark 10:11 & Luke 16:18), which applies to women as well (Mark 10:12). That’s just the Christians, and we haven’t even started on the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, each with their own take on marriage, or indeed that there are at least 35 denominations of Christianity that perform same sex marriages and that actually permit divorce. As for what is called “traditional marriage” by Judeo-Christian religions, the Islamic religion is closest to what traditional marriage is. Traditional marriage according to the texts of all three religions is not one man and one woman. it is one man and many women, the women have no say in whom they are to be married by, in fact women were not thought of as people, but as property to be bartered like cattle. and until sons were married they had little or no say in who they were wedded to, but at least they were not thought of as property as were women.

            • Solomon … had 700 wives … and 300 concubines. (1 Kings 11:2-3)

            • Rehoboam … took 18 wives, and 60 concubines. (2 Chronicles 11:21)

            • But Abijah waxed mighty, and married 14 wives…. (2 Chronicles 13:21)

            2. Yes, it is up to us gays to prove ourselves but if we do, we can still be sacked in most countries of the world. You heterosexuals on the other hand don’t have the same burden of proof, because just by being yourself you can avoid disowning, shunning, excommunication, sacking, eviction, bashing, and stoning because of your innate sexual orientation.

            3. Whenever you “discuss” homosexuality, you define us by the once a year parades, and make ridiculous assertions like “naked tarts stripping in the churches” as though all we do all day, every day, every year is have none stop orgies.

            4. HIV/AIDS pandemic is worst in Africa, and it’s heterosexuality that’s spreading it. It’s true that in the West, gay men are still responsible for most of the HIV propagation, but LGBT activism has helped educate the wider public and thus stop the disease from migrating into the heterosexual majority, so far. However that is not true in the wider world. Of 33.3 million AIDS cases worldwide, 15.9 million are female, and 2.6 million children, so it’s very clear that your heterosexuality will NOT protect you from HIV infection; only monogamy and safe sex will do that. African Americans account for only 14% of the US population, yet they account for over 40% of HIV/AIDS infections. It therefore makes no more sense to say that someone should not be gay in order to avoid infection, than it would to say that one should not be black, so as to avoid HIV/AIDS infection. A monogamous same sex couple is at no greater risk of spreading or catching STI’s like AIDS than a heterosexual monogamous couple. The key is monogamy – every reason to encourage gays to marry. Lesbians are at zero risk of HIV/AIDS, yet they are homosexuals too.

            You accuse me of “sexualising everything”. I have sexualised nothing. All the “sex talk” is coming from you.

          • cabbagejuice says:

            Here we go again. You can save your cut and paste sermons, not interested.

            You cite obsolete laws and don’t appreciate the difference between the spirit and letter of the Law. In terms of evolution of values, Christianity was a beneficial influence. The eventual reduction of marriage to one man/one woman has been regarded as optimal for the protection of children and family. It’s really obvious WHY.

            In the early Roman Empire, this institution was fairly sacred. (Read the “Rape of Lucrece”.) At their twilight, just like our own times, all mayhem broke loose.

            Still, I don’t think that Jews were polygamous 2000 years ago. As for Moslems, most of them are in a marriage dyad, as supporting two of more wives is too troublesome. There is also the study by Unwin in the 1930’s who set out to prove that traditional marriage is not important and wound up by discovering that every society where this was undermined, collapsed within two generations.

            “No shoes, no shirt, no service.” I believe a proprietor of a business has the right to refuse whomever he wants to and to allow smoking in pubs and restaurants, etc. When the nanny state stepped in and decided “this is bad for you”, they didn’t get rid of smoking, the same way alcohol consumption was not reduced in the days of Prohibition.

            Businesses are now being ruined if they don’t agree with the same marriage agenda. (Heck, some gays don’t either!) Where there is a choice of selecting other bakeries, halls, bed and breakfasts, these nasty people make frivolous and damaging lawsuits, if their agenda is not catered to.

            I have a lot of experience with the Middle East. It is acting, not being, that invites repercussions. In general NO ONE CARES what you are, it is acting upon it, and most times in private doesn’t raise an eyebrow. Young women are killed for family honor, not because they are heterosexuals but because of breaking the rules.

            I’m the last person in the world to be told that there is no obsession with one’s sexuality to the point of having to talk about it constantly. And I didn’t accuse you of all the things you said I did, because, please believe it, I DON’T CARE about you!

            That piano teacher at my age of 14-17 was guilty of ABUSE, not because of what he did but what he said ALL THE TIME. It all had a really negative effect on me and ultimately my career. He could not stop talking about how he hated his father, his lovers, and everything that he represented including getting reprimanded for sunning in the backporch in the nude was repeated with the other unfortunate encounters I had.

            The only good that came from it ALL is I don’t believe ANY of the BS and developed a very good radar for it.

            So when the subject of the need to officialize same sex marriage in order to ensure monogamy, I say hogwash. It is putting the cart before the donkey.

            AIDS in Africa (as much as I despise speaking about the subject) and other countries is generally spread by anal sex. Certain bodily fliuds are not meant to be mixed and if they are, warts, herpes, BV, chlamydia can be the result.

          • You cite obsolete laws and don’t appreciate the difference between the spirit and letter of the Law.

            Your policy of “quote it if you like it; ignore it if you don’t.” doesn’t wash I’m afraid. Your two faced idealism is even more disgraceful considering how you want to blatantly discriminate against a minority in the name of “freedom of conscience” (aka “strongly held religious beliefs”). Who picks and chooses which biblical laws are “obsolete”? Nothing in either of my two translations of the Bible (King James and Knox) say “keep”/”throw”, moreover Jesus himself said the Old Testament must be obeyed – every word of it:

            1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

            2) “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

            3) Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

            4) “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” (2 Peter 20-21 NAB)

            Right-wing “Christians” like you use the lame excuse that the laws against divorce, copulating during menstruation, marrying outside your race or your religion, marrying during menstruation, eating crustaceans or pork, playing football, wearing polyester cotton shirts, picking up sticks on the Sabbath and that pass sentences of infanticide for disobedience, genocide for practising a different religion, and so forth, are somehow “obsolete”, yet you choose to take the two verses in the New Testament that supposedly talk about homosexuality as the Word of God himself. You take the position that the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament – except when it comes to selecting a single verse out of context as the “divine word of God” and ignore all other verses that you believe are “obsolete”.

            The Bible also clearly prohibits women from being ministers or otherwise speaking in church: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” (1 Corinthians 14:34) Is this “obsolete” or “God’s word”? Who gets to decide?

            Ostentatious piety of the anti-gay evangelicals runs contrary to the very teachings of Jesus Christ who said prayer should be devoid of public display: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:5-6).

            In another paradox, Jesus said “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) This clearly means that anyone who is a disciple of Christ hates his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters.

            Yet the Bible also says “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10) Notice that there was not a single word about homosexuality! But it did say that “love is the fulfilling of the law.”

            There are many Christians who devoutly believe that every single word of their translation of the Bible is the literal Word of God. This means they can refuse service to to a mixed race couple, or one remarrying after a divorce, or a marriage that takes place during the bride’s menstrual cycle. Equivocate all you like, but these are in the Bible and a Bible-believing Christian should obey ALL of it. None of it is “obsolete” just because it doesn’t suit you to kill naughty children.

            So far as the Middle East is concerned, you’re clearly happy for laws that sentenced two 16 year old boys to death for being in a same sex relationship to remain, I am not. It’s just as impossible for a gay person in a relationship to completely hide their sexuality as it is for married man to pretend he isn’t really married.

            Your point about punishing foreign regimes for civil rights abuses making matters worse doesn’t wash either. South Africa would still have apartheid had there not been external pressure. So far as present African countries are concerned, they’re stating in no uncertain terms that they don’t want or need Western aid:

          • @Cabbage Juice


            Where did you get your contrary information, that anal intercourse is responsible for the high heterosexual infection rate in Africa? What evidence can you likewise adduce to corroborate your implicit contention that heterosexual penile+vaginal intercourse doesn’t transmit the virus?

          • This is way off-topic. Please stick to the issues.

  • jeff rogers says:

    @Cabbagejuice Right on! Well said! I finally found something I can agree with you about. Our musical opinions may be at odds, but our politics seem to be aligned!

    • cabbagejuice says:

      Great, Jeff. My perspective on kiddie stars is different than yours, being a teacher who knows intimately what the risks are and the heavy responsibility in avoiding them.