Russian LGBT film festival targeted under 'foreign agent' laws
Bok o Bok (Side by Side) festival hit with heavy fine after failing to register foreign funding, which organisers deny receiving.
A Russian film festival that mounts screenings and discussions relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues has been fined 500,000 rubles (almost £10,000) and named as a "foreign agent" by authorities.
The Saint Petersburg-based Bok o Bok (Side by Side) festival has run annually since 2007 and recently expanded to a number of other Russian cities, including Moscow, Tomsk, Arkhangelsk, Perm and Novosibirsk. Authorities began to investigate the event in March and a judge has now ruled that organisers must pay the large fine for failing to register as a "foreign agent" under highly criticised new laws.
The Kremlin ruled recently that all non-govermental organisations (NGOs) must register if they receive funding from abroad. Side by Side, which screened films by Dutch director Michiel Van Erp and Germany's Dennis Todorovic during its most recent edition, says it receives no foreign funding. Festival organisers have released a statement on the Bok o Bok website claiming that the judge ignored their efforts to convince the court that this was the case, and did not offer any arguments in favour of his ruling.