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Male State: Hate group deemed too extreme even for Russia – PinkNews

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A Pride rally in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2017 (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty)
A Russian court has banned a deeply homophobic, misogynistic and racist social media movement for stoking hatred against LGBT+ folk, women and Black people.
Male State, an umbrella group for a reviled array of nationalist, pro-patriarchy communities of some 150,000, was dubbed “extremist” by the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court on Monday (18 October).
It touts “a radical patriarchy with the goal of changing the constitutional order”, the court heard from the Centre for Combating Extremism, a law enforcement unit within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and “opposes the current political regime and believes that the Russian authorities are organizing a genocide of the male population”.
The court agreed with a claim filed by prosecutors earlier this month that argued that Male State members “persecute citizens” on the basis of nationality, gender and race.
Prosecutors argued in the lawsuit, according to the court’s press office, that the court must label Male State as an extremist organisation.
It was a plea that judge Anna Beloza emphatically agreed with, rendering her decision on the case within minutes, according to news outlet Mediazona.
Male States’ lawyers plan to appeal the decision. 
Members will now face jail time if convicted of organising on behalf of Men’s State, The Moscow Times reported.
Male State members have launched an array of coordinated social media strikes against companies and people that express pro-LGBT+ or feminist views.
Earlier this year, members called for the wife of a Nigerian student who drowned while rescuing a swimmer in western Russia’s Kaliningrad region to be slain or beaten.
In July, the group threatened to “kill” the children of journalist Anna Mongait after she interviewed a same-sex couple for her TV program.
Members also lobbed a barrage of threats against a sushi company in August that ran an advertisement featuring a Black man and rainbow colours.
In court, the group’s lawyer Dzambolat Gabarayev argued that Male State users’ campaign was not homophobic or racist.
It was to voice concerns, he said according to the BBC, over the use of rainbows in a country where pro-LGBT+ “propaganda” is banned.
While in response to evidence that Male State members had hounded women, Gabarayev replied: “They were women who had themselves denigrated men.”
Offline, in-person meetings have seen members trained in hand-to-hand combat as well as the use of pneumatic weapons. Many members have also said they aligned with the right-wing populist party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
Male State was founded by Russian bodybuilder Vladislav Pozdnyakov in 2016.
Just two years later, he was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence for “actions aimed at humiliating human dignity in relation to women”, Mediazona said. It was overturned the following year.
Pozdnyakov has since fled Russia, it is understood. He is to testify via video uplink.
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Male State users originally operated on the Russian social media network VKontakte before being banned from the service in 2020. Before being ousted, Male State’s VKontakte page boasted more than 150,000 members.
After more than 80,000 jumped to the messaging app Telegram, Male State was banned from the platform last week.
Sexism and homophobia are rife in Russia, with violence incited by hatred for rarely prosecuted in the country, a 2019 report from violence monitoring group SOVA Center found.
Across sport, education, business, among other areas of public life, just three out of 10 Russians believe gender discrimination can be ended by 2029, according to a survey by Statistica.
While one in five Russians want LGBT+ people to be “eliminated”, data published last year by the Moscow-based non-governmental research group Levada Center found.
Other extremist groups banned by Russia’s courts include the Islamic State and the Taliban as well as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Related topics: Russia
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