On December 5, the Prosecutor's Office of Tomsk sent a request to attend the Prosecutor’s Office to the head of the Russian LGBT Network’s regional. This so-called "invitation" was issued because of the movie screening of "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine" hosted by the Network's Regional Division in Tomsk.
According to the request the Prosecutor's Office had an eye on this event because of the existing "legislation on the protection of children from information that causes harm to their health".
The Head of the Network's regional division in Tomsk, Artem Nikiforov, says that all the activities they host are for the 18+.
"The organizers of the LGBT film festival have never violated the Russian legislation. Participants had to show their ID and had their age was checked. All the press releases had an "18+" mark on them. I do not understand what kind of propaganda are we talking about! And what kind of information is harmful to the health of the children?"
The lawyer of the Russian LGBT Network, Andrei Meltsaev, commented the situation: "Right now it's hard to draw conclusions about the nature of such request, but we can say that everything will become clearer after a meeting with the prosecutor. Nevertheless, the interest and concern of the Prosecutor's Office look suspicious. We hope that this incident will not become a yet another repressive case."
The film “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” was shown on Sunday 3rd December. After the screening, a discussion was organised on the topic of “Harassment and Hatred: how to resist”. The screening was organised by the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian LGBT Network in partnership with the International LGBT Film Festival “Side by Side”.
On December 7, Artem Nikiforov visited the Prosecutor’s Office with a lawyer. He said that after the meeting it became clear that the inspection was initiated by the regional Prosecutor’s Office, and that the officer was quite polite – he asked for written expiations and that was it.