Russia is seeking to prosecute protesters who posted anti-Putin messages on a government building. According to Ria Novosti, Moscow Police have said that those behind the "offensive" messages on the State Duma would be charged with vandalism. They would potentially face hefty fines and three years in prison.
The messages were one of the stranger parts of Thursday's protests after the sentencing of anti-Kremlin blogger and activist Alexei Navalny to five years in jail for an alleged embezzlement scam.
Among the messages were hundreds of stickers with Navalny's face on them and the message "Change Russia. Start from Moscow."
Others were more crude, however. One prominent message scrawled on the building said simply "Putin is gay."
Last, this graffiti on the Russian parliament says: Putin is gay. pic.twitter.com/nn0IZe4nR8
— Andrew Roth (@ARothmsk) July 18, 2013
While the use of "gay" as a pejorative may seem immature, there may be some thought behind it. Putin's government has overseen a ban on homosexual "propaganda" deemed homophobic by many observers. The law means that holding gay pride events or speaking in defense of gay rights can now result in fines of up to $31,000.
Not all the graffiti can be read as an ironic critique, however:
"Putin is a penis" graffitied onto state duma http://t.co/Xjoe8i54OC
— Ilya Mouzykantskii (@ilyamuz) July 18, 2013
Navalny was released on bail Friday at the request of the prosecution. He has announced he intends to stand in Moscow mayoral elections, though it remains likely that he will still face jail time for his alleged involvement in an embezzlement scam.
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