MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) – A team of Dutch actors spoke in support of Russian gays and journalists after a performance based on Anton Chekhov adaptation at a theater festival opened in St. Petersburg this week, according to a witness.
After their performance on Friday night, the actors of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam theater read their appeal addressing the Russian authorities urging them to “stop discrimination” in the country, saying that they can keep silence over the government’s pressure against homosexual people and journalists, contributing editor of St. Petersburg’s Sobaka magazine, Andrei Pronin, who attended the show, wrote in a Facebook post.
The actors made their statement after playing prominent Dutch theater director Iva van Hove’s performance “The Russians!” brought to St. Petersburg for the ongoing Baltic House Theater Festival.
According to Pronin, some of the audience rushed out of the hall hearing the artists’ speech. The incident coincides with the cross-culture Russia-Netherlands year in Russia.
Russian authorities have passed a series of bills this year that prompted criticism both in Russia and abroad as limiting the freedom of speech in the country.
In June, the controversial and vaguely-worded law banning the promotion of "non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors, an offense punishable with hefty fines was enacted. While the law’s proponents argue it is aimed at protecting children, critics claim the legislation is part of a much wider crackdown on Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.