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Hello,

This is a blog dedicated to LGBT teenagers in Russia. Now, when the new homophobic laws have been put in force, children and teenagers are the most vulnerable part of Russia’s LGBT community, as the purpose of the law is to ‘protect minors from propaganda of homosexualism’. Russian politicians pretend that LGBT children and teenagers do not exist, making them virtually invisible – children 404, an error, those who are not found.

In the wake of the law being introduced, in March 2013, a Yekaterinburg journalist Elena Klimova started a research into the problem of LGBT teenagers in Russia; she was the first ever person to do so. Astonished at what she found out, at the almost total lack of support provided for those kids and at the monstrous levels of homophobia faced by most of them, she wrote a series of articles about the issue. They have all been translated and will feature as separate posts in the blog.

Encouraged by the amount of responses she got, Elena started an online project called ‘Deti-404’, children-404 – a media space where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teenagers can share their stories and where other people can express their concern and support. It has been a success – even the draconian law, which should have hit the project the hardest, did not prevent 10,000 people from following the project on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, and over 2000 on Facebook itself. So far all the stories have been published in Russian only.

I came across the project back in April and was appalled at what I saw. I told some of my friends about it, but, as most of my friends cannot speak Russian, sharing the whole extent of that information was quite challenging. That led me to a decision to translate Elena’s articles and the stories of the teens to English, so English-speaking audience can read it all for themselves. I take full responsibility for all the errors in translation and apologise for any awkward phrasing or any grammatical and spelling mistakes.

I would like to thank several people without whom this blog would never have happened. First of all, huge thanks to the inspiring, brave and strong Lena Klimova, the author of the original articles, the project and the very phrase ‘children-404’. I would also like to thank James Greenwood, who proofread my vain attempts at writing something readable and brushed the drafts up, and Jonny Tsang who sorted out the whole of the technical side of the question. Without either of these things the blog would have been impossible, thank you both so much, guys!

Please do not hesitate to email your words of support, with or without photos, to the kids – all of them will be translated to Russian and transferred to the main portal of the project, the Russian Vkontakte page.

You can follow the Russian-language part of the project here.

From Russia with love,

Nailya Shamgunova

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2 thoughts on “Children-404.

  1. I think what you’ve done with the blog is really insightful and helpful for someone trying to find out whats going on with the LGBT community in Russia.

    Apart from translations, do you plan to provide any of your own analysis and context on these issues? Specifically, is the anti-LGBT movement mostly top-down or bottom-up, and has it been getting worse over the past few years?

    1. Thank you!

      The main aim of the project is to provide first-hand information about how real LGBT people, especially teenagers, feel about living in Russia. By now only the articles have been uploaded, but a lot more stories of LGBT-teenagers which are sent to the Russian side of the project, will be translated and uploaded soon. At the moment there are more than 500 of them and they keep coming.

      I might write an occasional post or two summarizing things and I will definitely translate more stuff about the Nazi groups which hunt LGBT people down, but I guess that side of the story is more widely publicized, whereas teenagers in less extreme but still awful circumstances get much less of a media space.

      In response to your question – it is a bit of both, as the grassroots’ homophobia is being reinforced by the state now.

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