"We, Russians, fear to go out to the square..."

Time of publication: 29.05.2007
Yulya Volkova is the soloist of the group "Tatu", musical icon of the supporters of lesbian love. She is 22 years, she has a daughter. With Lena Katina, the second participant of the group "Tatu", she keeps on recording a new album in Los Angeles. They interrupted their work to participate in the gay-demonstration at the Tverskij street in Moskva: "We wanted to show our yearning for freedom, yearning for free expression of feelings of love, no matter who loves and how he is loved. We knew, that it wouldn't be so smooth as it should be."

"You became witnesses of cruel beatings under indifferent eyes of the police. Did you fear that you could get involved yourselves in these clashes?"

"No we were not afraid. Maybe it was terrifying for somebody who went out to the street to appear in the protection of his own dignity. But I was shocked by the fact, that Moscow, the capital of fashion and international business not at all presents itself as a civilized place from this point of view. Why was it impossible to realize this action without any excesses? Why do we have people, who go out to the square, intimidated, in fear to be beaten or wounded? But even with these fears people went out anyway to declare themselves."

"Why in Russia the relation to 'others', especially to representatives of other sexual orientation, often happens to be negative, aggressive?"

"I don't intend to give a political evaluation, but maybe somebody among the political authorities tries to suppress people of alternative habits, who doesn't like to grant freedom of speech, freedom of self-expression and action. If this is the goal of those who are in power, this is absolutely unjust. In the whole world the individual is free. People respect the freedom of others."

"Whereas in Moscow..."

We are 12 Mio. inhabitants in Moscow. If everybody makes it a rule not to respect the personality or behaviour of others - like "I don't like him, let me hurt him" - what have we to expect then from all our people? Above all we have to be tolerant. It's necessary to respect the opinion of others. If you don't like gays, don't go there, that's all. Who gave you the right to fight against? I think, In Russia we have to respect freedom. Without it we cannot achieve that level of democracy, which is in Europe and in America. If we accept, that to live in civilized and democratic countries is comfortable, then it is because the laws correspond to the requirements of the people, but not vice versa, that the laws 'force' people. Their laws are thought out to make the life of the citizens convenient. Therefore people in these countries prefer to respect the laws, whereas here nobody wants to obey them."

"Can Russia sometime become tolerant?" 14 years ago the article has been removed from the criminal code, which provided a penalty for homosexuality, but it appears as if some people don't know anything about it."

"Today there are no more such articles, but it is necessary to find other ways to reinforce tolerance. Why do the authorities want to forbid this phenomenon? I don't know. Maybe, to reinforce tolerance and educate the people in the spirit of respect, you have to set specific signal to those, who govern the country. If there is no such impuls, the people remains malicious, dissatisfied, discontented and unsure of itself. Then, it seems to me, there is one aspect which strengthens this hatred: the sharp difference in income. A catastrophic difference divides rich and poor. The standard of living of many people is way too low, many people don't live, they just survive. And this aspect contributes to the creation of hatred and malice. It's really hard to be tolerant, if you are embittered."

Leonardo Cohen
La Repubblica, Italy
Translated by Argos
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