Russian police raid Moscow furry meet – fandom sees rising oppression.
by Patch O'Furr
Let’s start close to home for many readers. Across America, right-wing attacks have been punching through furries to strike LGBT rights. These attacks are based on debunked hoaxes, but in May, one caused real damage in a Wyoming school district. A board member mocked furries and ignored bullied students while the district removed anti-discrimination protection for LGBT people. This shows the rising stakes for anyone included in Pride month, which many furries count as part of their fandom and freedom. These attacks are starting small to aim for a big goal that already exists in Russia.
Across Russia, LGBT people have no protection. Russia’s government treats LGBT identity as a political stance for just… existing. Meanwhile, they’re threatened and forced to hide. But Russians can’t easily protest for rights without punishment. It’s also dangerous to show anti-war beliefs, especially if a group is already disfavored. Their free speech is oppressed as anti-government.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) June 9, 2022
The local view
The Moscow meet was an ordinary fursuit walk that has been covered on Dogpatch Press from close contact with organizers. It’s a social event in public places that follows Russian law in staying apolitical, not even displaying identity. There have been attempts to frame such gatherings. At one, a provocateur tried to jump in photos with a pup mask to get them in trouble. And an anime fan gathering was framed by someone giving them rainbow flags for photos that led to arrests. Those incidents presage this one.
At this walk, police picked people for searches and claimed to find antiwar items in someone’s bag, causing them to detain a lot of members.
“I would like to share commentary on today’s events.
Talvi Ferret helped to coordinate legal assistance for today’s detainees. Here is what he says in short:
“In Moscow city 11 furries were detained by police today. Some of the detainees were held in a stuffed airless police van for hours. According to the furry event participants words, they were detained for “unusual looks and loud behavior”. They did not confirm misinformation about possible provocation that was spread among the social networks.
A lawyer from the OVDInfo human rights defenders group went to the detainees. I coordinated the actions together with OVDInfo hot line, to not leave anyone in the police station, to help provide legal assistance if needed. This is a standard work practice of human rights defenders during mass detentions – to not leave anyone in the police station. Most of the detainees were released without charge reports, beside the one, minor, who was charged with “discreditation of Russian army”, supposedly because of “possessing papers of certain content”. This was not real, and he wasn’t handing out any leaflets – other witnesses among furry meet participants confirm it. A few hours later he was released from the police station.”
- OVDInfo is a russian human rights defenders and media activists group. They specialize in providing legal help to people detained or arrested for peaceful protests and other public actions.
- Article 20.3.3 of Russia’s Code of Administrative Offenses, adopted 04/03/22 and appended 22/03/22 introduces punishment for “Public actions aimed at discreditation of Russian armed forces”, states fines from 30,000 to 50,000RUB for persons, and this offense creates res judicata that may lead to charge under eponymous article 280.3 of Criminal Code which states jail up to 3 years.
Proof of location – Talvi’s photo from the police station yard in the Moscow central district where furries were detained:
Talvi Ferret also shared a personal message to the Russian furry fandom:
“My dear furry friends. As the man who was at the police station and coordinated the help for detainees, I would like to ask you all to stop spreading unconfirmed rumors and fake news. In terms of law, of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, international treaties that Russia signed, and you are the citizens of this country, handing out leaflets of certain content (that you are tattling about) is not an offense. Whatever say the “laws” that were adopted by the current regime. Slavery also was legal. German racist and antisemite laws also were legal. In this system you also can become out of law – and we hear and see the examples already. This is the first thing. I ask you to think about it seriously.
The second one. I won’t put it to the public, but it is needed. There wasn’t any distribution of any leaflets. No one endangered anyone. I can’t talk about it in detail – I have no right for it. But according to meet participants and witnesses testimonies that I collected, here’s how the situation looks from this side: Special police forces and/or national guard began detaining people on the street because of their unusual look. Some of the participants had long hair, some had rainbow colored socks. [Bolded by editor]. Just as some of us were dressing like 10 years ago (and I remember it, being a member of the community for a long time), we were noisy and had fun, maybe we were going a bit too far… This attracted the attention of others. But today, in Russia of 2022, generic law enforcement sees this as an offense.
You are accusing the man, who you don’t know anything about, of absolute bullshit (okay, also by the words of others that were nearby, but if you have some confirmed info that contradicts it, you can send it to my PMs). I won’t share further details of the incident. But none of this person’ actions was unlawful. He wasn’t distributing anything, he even did not resist the detention. Please stop all your gossip. You weren’t around. Better to think about it as an important precedent. This is the first incident of this kind to happen. And it will get only worse. Please think about yourselves and those who you care about, and how to be less hostile to each other. Think about the life of furries in other countries, how they walk in capitals of their countries, and also even photographing in fursuits at the main state monuments. And where the police protect them and not pack them into airless police vans.
Remember, in the year 2022, it came for us all. Just as in that famous saying about fascism. They came for us now.
Talvi the ferret
P.S. I tried to change something in this country, and very seriously. I did not succeed. But we’ll be back.”
And the last thing that he consider the most important:
“My very-most-important comment on this situation. My role in today’s events is not so big. I just tried to coordinate the help, to be sure that everyone involved can get the legal assistance. That all of them will be released from the police station.
The main merit is the visit of the lawyer. She found the time to go to the police station, and she helped the detainees. And we’re really thankful to her for this. Most important – is that we have OVDInfo and other human rights organizations. People were on the phone, helping detainees via Telegram chats. They are helping us all. Please pay attention to them. Please give them some words of gratitude.
And yes, OVDInfo always existed thanks to small donations from ordinary people. And I ask you to support them. Your donation will help to fund the legal assistance and lawyer visits, who will help you in cases like that. Your donation will also help to support the project’s IT infrastructure, their operators and technicians, and other specialists. They helped you all.
Please consider sending some small donations to them. Even the price of a cup of coffee. Price of burger. Price of a coke bottle. The flow of these little donations makes the OVDInfo go.
You can support the OVDInfo project by this link – https://donate.ovd.legal/
Tomorrow the regime may come for you too. And you should understand it.
I call for furry solidarity. And take care of yourselves.”
After messages from Polarlight Wolf and Talvi, one of the Moscow furmeet organizers was consulted. The person blamed for bringing anti-war leaflets wasn’t known to anyone in the group. His social media was deleted and it’s unknown if it was a real name, and they’re unable to find a police report in his name. He was called a non-furry provocateur working for the authorities.
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