A host of Russian celebrities who paid more than $10,000 to attend an “almost naked” party at a Moscow nightclub are facing a growing backlash, with concert dates canceled and advertising contracts torn up, after the event triggered a storm of outrage from conservative Russians.
One of the partygoers, a rapper named Vacio, attended the raunchy event wearing nothing but a sock and has since been fined for spreading “LGBT propaganda,” jailed, and handed draft papers to join the army on Monday. The party’s organizer, meanwhile, is being sued for a billion rubles ($11 million).
The harsh crackdown on Russia’s elite, many of whom have strongly supported Moscow’s war in Ukraine, is one of the starkest examples yet of the conservative direction President Vladimir Putin is moving the country in.
Elite party crosses new “red line” in Putin’s Russia
Backlash to the ‘almost naked’ party reveals a new “red line” for Russia’s rich and famous, Politico reported. According to Bloomberg, Putin expressed displeasure at the lavish party occurring during wartime, and his deputies encouraged what Russians have dubbed “the biggest canceling” since the start of the war. For Putin, “the country is at war and these people are having fun,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, told Bloomberg.
Putin doubles down on traditional values ahead of presidential elections
Putin is seeking to brand himself as the protector of Russia against a West “bent on destroying the traditional family, religious faith, and national pride,” sources close to the Kremlin told Bloomberg. While the renewed focus on Christian values may help Putin shore up domestic support as Russia’s presidential elections approach, the effort is also aimed at winning sympathy from right-wing parties abroad, independent Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar wrote in Foreign Affairs. The focus represents a dramatic shift for Putin, a divorcee who reportedly once left his autograph on the wall of a strip club shortly after being appointed prime minister in 1999.
Russia is intensifying its crackdown on LBTGQ+ people
Maria Butina, a Russian Parliament member who was once convicted in the U.S. for being a Russian agent, called on law enforcement to investigate the ‘almost naked’ party for evidence of “LGBT propaganda.” In late November the Russian Supreme Court outlawed what it called the “international LGBT movement,” instituting a ban that will come into effect on Wednesday. The ruling has already had a chilling effect, with at least one gay club and one LGBTQ+ rights organization announcing their closures. Activists have warned that the regulation is so vague that it will criminalize all forms of LGBTQ advocacy, The Moscow Times reported.