Altai Territory Court has blocked a support resource for LGBT teenagers “Children-404”

On January 13, the Altai Territory Court upheld the ruling about blocking the first page of the project “Children-404” on the Russian social network Vkontakte. And the very next day, the Central District Court of Barnaul declined to consider another claim that has been filed against the new page of the Children-404 project. The founder of the project Lena Klimova says that the decision of the territory court will be appealed, and the project will continue its work anyway. In the years the project has been operating, it has helped many teenagers, and has proved to be useful for those who don’t have anywhere else to go for help. Many leading Russian psychologists have also spoken about the importance of “Children-404” as a support resource.

This new claim was initiated by Barnaul city prosecutor Vladimir Yelizarov. The prosecutor had acted upon the complaint by Dmitry Arzamasov about a web page of the Children-404 project that has not been blocked. In his claim Yelizarov states that the resource “contains information that favorably portrays non-traditional sexual relationships among minors, in particular, homosexuality among boys, lesbianism among girls and bisexual relationships among children.” The prosecutor’s office interpreted as evidence of such information the fact that the Children-404 project proposes on its page to offer “support services for homosexual, bisexual and transgender teenagers”.  However, since Lena Klimova was not brought into the case as a third party, her lawyer Dmitry Bartenev demanded that the claim not be considered. In fact, Lena Klimova should be involved in the case as the defendant, which means that the case cannot be heard in Barnaul like the prosecutor wants. The court agreed with these arguments and ruled that the claim should not be considered.  

To remind, as early as August 7, the Central District Court of Barnaul ruled that the first page of the “Children-404” community must be blocked. Back then, the court was considering  the question of blocking four different online communities on Vkontakte. It was Barnaul prosecutor Vladimir Elizarov who had initiated the court proceedings also at that time. At the same time, as Dmitry Bartenev notes, “neither the first instance court, nor the territory court examined any of the information provided on the “Children-404” page. They must have decided that any mention of homosexuality is illegal if it involves children. This is in direct conflict with the position of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Russia, as both these bodies stated that the “propaganda law” only prohibits the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships and does not infringe on children’s right to receive relevant information about homosexuality.

Here is how Lena Klimova commented on the situation: “Yesterday, the Altai Territory Court upheld the decision. I don’t know what the reasons are yet. This decision is as exquisite as the following one: four out of five people steal a million each, while the fifth person is just walking by; because those five people together seem to have stolen five million, all five of them go to prison.” Anyone who has ever taken even a quick look at the group “Children-404” knows that we have never allowed discussion of romantic encounters or sexual relationships. The only sentence that could have been taken from our online community is the following one, and it is the only one that does not sound playful: “Being gay is normal”. Nonetheless, Judge Ovsyannikova lumped together groups with “nude sex organs”, sexual services, passionate sex and “Children-404” and prohibited them all"