A Gay Russian, Exiled in Ireland


Picture by Olga Maltseva/ AFP/ Getty

Evgeny Shtorn and Alexander Kondakov were cohabiting in St. Petersburg when Vladimir Putin began his crackdown on the L.G.B.T.Q. motion in Russia, passing laws that restricted gay “propaganda.” Kondakov is a scholar of the motion, and Shtorn has studied the sociology of hate criminal activities against gay guys. The couple also worked for an N.G.O. that received foreign financing, which made them appear particularly suspicious to Russian authorities. After Shtorn’s citizenship was rescinded, he ended up being susceptible to push from the F.S.B., the Russian security firm, which tried to make him an informant. Finally, Shtorn chose to flee, seeking sanctuary as a stateless person in Ireland, where Masha Gessen talked with him. Gessen states that Putin’s recent targeting of L.G.B.T.Q. people is perfectly in line with his approaches. “[We] make the best scapegoat, since we stand in for whatever,” she states. “We stand in for the West. We stand in all the important things that have actually altered in the last quarter century that make you uncomfortable. And, of course, no Russian believes they’ve ever satisfied a gay individual face to face– so that makes it actually simple to create that picture of ‘the villainous queer individuals.’ “

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