Russian cadets on stage at the Dobrynin Palace of Culture in Yaroslav (Facebook/Тарас Александрович Сидорин)
Russian paratroopers horrified an audience with a homophobic theatre performance depicting a gay man being crushed under a concrete block.
The performance was shown as part of an anniversary celebration for a local patriotic military club at the Dobrynin Palace of Culture in Yaroslavl on Sunday (29 August).
As an unsuspecting audience looked on, cadets in camouflage fatigues hoisted a shirtless man above their heads and placed a concrete block with the inscription “death to f****ts” on his stomach.
The men then proceeded to smash the symbolic object with what appeared to be a sledgehammer, Radio Free Europe reports.
“We view these attacks as a call to murder,” said Taras Sidorin, head of the Yaroslavl branch of the veterans group Defender.
The performance was so shocking that Sidorin filed a police report on behalf of a number of Russian veterans’ organisations.
“The statement to the law enforcement agencies has already been written,” he said. “There were small children in the hall. This behaviour is simply unacceptable.”
According to Igor Derbin, director of the Palace of Culture, the performance did not have the venue’s approval. “We are outraged,” he told 76.ru after the show.
“Initially, the event was planned to be pleasant and joyful. Their trick was unexpected for us. It was not pre-planned or agreed upon because they knew we would not allow it.
“By their act, they crossed out all the good impressions of the event. And they put a shadow on me, on themselves, on the institution.
“I already spoke with their supervisor and asked that all photos and videos be removed from social media,” he continued. “Now we understand the current situation and are trying to minimise the negative consequences. I think that in the future the road here has been ordered for them.”
But the head of the military club, Andrei Palachev, told reporters he saw nothing wrong with the mock-execution scene.
“What’s the problem? They just don’t like [homosexuals],” he said, using an offensive slur for gay people. “And neither do I.”
The incident in Yaroslavl is just the latest example of rising homophobia and intolerance toward minority groups in Russia, where anti-LGBT+ discrimination, harassment and abuse often goes unchallenged by authorities.