Russian-occupied Sevastopol has been passionate about the opening of a sex shop in the city center over the past week. Non-governmental organizations have demanded to immediately close the store, which was just preparing to launch, and to punish its owners. The main reason is that the building where the sex shop was going to be opened stands on the site where the city defense committee was located during the war.
Local media have been actively discussing this topic for several days, and the occupation authorities are preparing to legislatively ban the placement of such establishments in the city center, so that "the architectural appearance would correspond to the spirit and logic of the place and its historical content" in the future.
Residents of the occupied peninsula regard this story as more than just a local conflict. Many saw this as a sign that Crimea is becoming less and less attractive for progressive youth. The peninsula of freedom, the most tolerant region of Ukraine 9 years ago, is being turned by Russia into the Soviet Union reserve in its worst manifestations.
Sex shop of contention
A scandal over the opening of the Pink Rabbit sex shop on Bolshaya Morskaya Street in the city center aroused at the end of March. Some local residents were outraged by the fact that the store of intimate goods will be located in a building that stands on the site where the city defense committee was located in which in 1941-1942.
By the way, a wine club, a lounge-cafe, a women's clothing store and Parilka cafe with hookahs and board games are located at the same address. But this did not bother the locals for years.
If the discussions were conducted mainly on social networks at first, then later, non-governmental organizations and even local authorities joined them.
"Listen, the only talk in the city for the last week was about this Pink Rabbit. Each local newscast tells how some non-governmental organizations and committees gather, discuss the immorality of opening this sex shop, even some veteran associations, where 90-year-old war veterans recalled the former glory of the city and the greatness of the Soviet Union, joined. In general, the idiocy was getting stronger and stronger every day. Local newspapers were also full of news and articles along the lines of "Where is the hero city rolling". As if there was a long-awaited excuse to forget about the real problems of the region and put all the attention on an ordinary sex shop", - resident of Sevastopol Mikhail told OstroV.
A separate meeting of the so-called government of Sevastopol was even convened on this occasion. As a result of heated discussions, the entrepreneurs who opened the sex shop decided to move to another place.
"It is very unpleasant that our entrepreneurs decided to open quite an interesting institution, let us say, a retail outlet with appropriate outdoor advertising in our building on 7 Bolshaya Morskaya Street, in our historic center, where we have a memorial tablet about the Defense Headquarters location there during the years of the Great Patriotic War. It is clear that this situation received a corresponding understandable public response, which could not have been different in the city of Sevastopol. Now, as far as I know, the owners of this sales outlet have decided to change the place of lease", - "governor" of the city Mikhail Razvozhayev reported.
At the same time, he instructed chief architect of Sevastopol Nikolay Gordiushyn and the city department of architecture to develop criteria for placing signs and advertisements on historic buildings and cultural heritage sites.
"It is necessary to take actions so that the modern use of historic buildings does not disharmonize with their architectural appearance, logic of the place and historical context", - Razvozhayev said.
It is noteworthy that the Russian chain of Pink Rabbit sex shops is represented in the occupied Crimea by five stores, and their slogan is "Strengthening the Family".
Head of the Bereginia Sevastopol organization Yelena Maiko stated the dangers of opening such stores, accompanied by advertising campaigns. She even saw LGBT propaganda in opening a sex shop.
"Against the background of a memorial tablet, the children's mind is "legitimizing" such trade. Moreover, the legitimization in this case is provided by the state (the structures that issued the permission), allowing the organization promoting the LGBT community to coexist with the memorial sign of the second defense – facts of such information were present in the promotional flyers", - Yelena Maiko reported.
According to the social activist, the combination of a memorial tablet reminiscent of the heroic past and setting the correct moral bearings with the sex shop door will inevitably cause cognitive dissonance.
People on social networks and forums largely agree with the thesis about the immorality of opening a sex shop in the city center.
"In addition to the norms of the law, there are also norms of morality. So we will get to sex shops in the premises of museums and theaters in Sevastopol. Gay pride parades come next. Moral deformity is a field of psychiatry", - certain Vladimir Semionov scares with a terrible prospect.
"Sevastopol is our home. Our parents and great-grandfathers taught us to take care of it. What is wrong here, if we preserve our culture? You are either with us, or we do not keep anyone here", - local resident Alexandra Polishchuk states.
"If our grandfathers were alive, they punched the store openers and the one who allowed it in the face. And since the grandfathers are six feet under, we must do it", - loyal granddaughter of her grandfathers Margarita Pronina writes.
But not all residents of the city agree with the decision of the "local authorities". Co-founder and coordinator of the Sevastopol Alternative movement Viktor Kiseliov called the actions against the opening of sex shop hypocrisy.
"I really do not understand the attitude of some Sevastopol residents to the opening of sex shop in the building where the City Committee of Defense was located in times gone by. Despite the fact that the store is legally clean, moralists begin to persecute the owners. There is something especially valuable everywhere in Sevastopol. This stone with an eight-kilometer security zone, this destroyed building that has not been repaired for twenty years and will not be repaired for another twenty years, but this is an important building. Sevastopol city defenders did not copulate! Turning against sex shop in a building with a sign is bigotry. Is it so different from the branch of some party or a grocery store? Let us start adjusting to reality, and not get excited about every stone. If you do not like such situations, then adjust their rules at the level of legislation first, and then file a claim", - he wrote on Facebook.
In addition, local residents point to other urban problems that the "authorities" do not notice.
"Do not the ruins on the historical boulevard pose a threat to moral and value education? Who was behind the fence on the historical boulevard? Everything there was turned upside down and left. The view point over the railway station was completely destroyed! There is a huge mountain of soil and trash now! And a pit. They looked for values in the ground after the war and left. In general, the impression that the "reconstruction" was just an excuse to secretly carry out excavations. Having received what you want - leave everything torn up. And that is OK. Since when has a sex shop - a family strengthening shop - began to harm patriotic education? What perverted thoughts in the head of a person are that he was able to link a sex shop and patriotic education? Are there any norms of patriotic and moral-value education described in the law regarding sex shop and sex with a wife in general? What is it all about?", - user of the social network Rostislav Voronov writes.
"The idiocy is getting stronger. Brothels in the center of Sevastopol, which are tactfully called massage parlors, do not bother the governor and social activists, but sex shop do. I advise the head of the region to amend the regulatory framework, not limiting to banning sex shops, but to prohibit the residents of houses in the historic center from having sex in them, because they stay the same "holy place" as the one in which they wanted to open sex shop. Do not engage in debauchery!", - blogger Nadenka Isayeva argues.
Not only sex shop
Morality issues in advertising are often raised in the Crimea after its occupation. The so-called local authorities are happy to respond to public complaints, emphasizing once again that the Crimea is just about an example of morality.
For example, an advertising banner with the image of seven semi-naked girls and the inscription "WE GIVE TO ALL guarantees for a good rest" appeared in the Crimea in 2014. After a complaint from one of the local residents, the so-called "Office of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Crimea" conducted a survey on its website regarding the legality of placing the advertising banner. When asked if it contains obscene and offensive images and expressions, 863 people (67%) answered "yes", 423 people who took part in the vote (33%) considered "no". After that, the "Office of the Federal Antimonopoly Service" opened a criminal case on this fact.
Posters with an advertisement for the Aqua dance summer night club, which belongs to the family of former Minister of Defense of Ukraine Pavlo Lebedyev, were hung in Sevastopol in 2018. The "City Parents' Committee" of Sevastopol sent an open letter to the businessman at that time, in which he accused his structures of promoting LGBT people and destroying moral values.
"The information products used by these companies are aimed at destroying the institution of the family, spiritual and moral values, forming a generation of pushovers and men-consumers, promoting LGBT relations, which contradicts the state policy of the Russian Federation. Also, the use of images of state symbols in the context of the advertising policy pursued by AquaDance Beach Club leads to the society alienation and is anti-state in nature", - the letter said.
A year later, the Aquamarine complex was again subjected to criticism from the community activists of Sevastopol for advertising a BDSM-style party. This time, their complaints produced results: the advertisement was removed after the appeal to the city "head".
"I grew up on the heroic examples of my grandfathers, and I want my children and grandchildren to be proud of our city. And here we have either "treat a woman on hands and knees", or "rails "with a narcotic substance on banners, then "BDSM". This is anti-advertising of Sevastopol, and it outrages me to the bottom of my heart. This should not be in a hero city", - chairman of the city parents' committee of Sevastopol Yelena Maiko stated in an open letter.
"The problem is not that people complain about advertising or a sex shop, - there are plenty of crazy people everywhere. The problem is that the local authorities listen to them and is on the bit. We will become the most conservative region in Russia soon, and we will even be held as an example by different moralists and defenders of traditional values and spiritual bonds. Well, yes, let us revive the Soviet Union within the framework of one peninsula, so that there is no sex, no clubs and no abroad. The Crimea is already under sanctions, so the local authorities mothball us even more", - a resident of the peninsula told OstroV.
LGBT life under the ban
"No - to gays, no - to sex, no - to debauchery. Yes - grandfathers, yes - victory, yes - patriots. Here is the new doctrine of the Crimea, which has been introduced in recent years. Already sick of this. Young people leave the region as soon as the opportunity appears, because they have nothing to do here. And military pensioners from northern Russia come for permanent residence. They now determine what is good and what is bad for the Crimea. Earlier, at least closed LGBT parties were held in large Crimean cities, but now there are no such events at all. Have we got less gays and lesbians? The Russian spirit has dissolved them? No. Go to the dating site, and you will see that there are no fewer profiles. It is just now scary to arrange even closed and secret meetings", - resident of Yevpatoria Alexander told OstroV.
The popular Qbar bar, which was in demand among both LGBT and heterosexuals, was closed in Sevastopol a year after the occupation. It was difficult to book a free table there on weekends - so popular it was. By the way, the owners of this bar (a gay couple who do not hide their relationship) stated that they were forced to close the establishment due to pressure from the new "authorities" who did not like the fame of the place as a "gay bar".
The small Crimean village of Simeiz has been considered the largest gay resort in the CIS for decades. Representatives of the LGBT community from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the former Soviet Union and beyond came there every summer to go to a nudist beach during the day, and spend the evening and night in the famous Yezhy cafe. The locals have never come out to protest against the "unusual guests" on which they made good money in the season. Prices for housing and other services in Simeiz have always been higher than in the neighboring villages.
Of course, Simeiz did not lose the unofficial status of gay resort with the arrival of the Russian occupation authorities on the peninsula, but people began to talk about it more quietly, and there were fewer visitors coming.
"I go to Simeiz every summer. And I can honestly say that the village has changed a lot over the past few years. I will give you a simple example. In 2013, after visiting the famous Yezhy bar, you could safely walk along the night embankment. In recent years, cafe waiters strongly recommend calling a taxi to the establishment and go straight home. The guards of Yezhy even escorted visitors to the taxi last year. Gays still go to Simeiz, but much less, the former charm and feeling of some freedom disappeared. An important role here is played by Russian legislation, which, to put it mildly, does not welcome LGBT life", - a local resident of the Crimea told.
As soon as the Crimean peninsula was annexed, it automatically entered the Russian legal framework. Accordingly, homophobic norms, which were previously enshrined in the legislation of the Russian Federation, automatically spread to the Crimea.
In particular, there is a rule in the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses prohibiting "the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors".
In addition, the "local authorities" do not miss the opportunity to make homophobic statements. For example, at a meeting of the "Crimean government", where the demographic situation in the region was discussed, self-proclaimed "head" of the Crimea Sergey Aksyonov stated: "The authorities will never support them (gays - ed.)".
"Such people (gays) are not welcomed in the Crimea, they are not needed, and they will never hold events publicly. I guarantee this", - he said.
The so-called Deputy Prime Minister of the Crimea Dmitriy Polonskiy recommended that LGBT people to "go to free Gayrope", to calmly walk the streets of the capitals of European states, where there is a "complete tolerance".
Local residents note that it is better to travel to the mainland of the Russian Federation for "free rest". There are fewer and fewer opportunities for progressive youth in the Crimea.
"Gay clubs, bars and saunas securely work in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and other large cities. They are not hidden underground and there is no super-security there. So such establishments in Russia can work. Or, maybe, there are no sex shops in Moscow? Yes, of course. And if the Crimea is now a part of the Russian Federation, than why cannot we be as good as them? The impression is that everything possible is being done so that the progressive youth leave Crimea to the mainland, and conservative military and pensioners came here", - local resident Mikhail says.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV