Dutch Filmmakers Detained in Russia

They face charges under a new law against gay propaganda among minors.

MOSCOW – A group of Dutch filmmakers who intended to make a documentary about the LGBT community in northern Russia have been detained and are facing charges under a recent law against gay propaganda.

On July 22, a court in the city of Murmansk was expected to look into the case of director Kris van der Veen and his crew, including a cameraman, a sound man and a trainee.

The filmmakers were shooting at an LGBT camp outside Murmansk on July 21 when police officers arrived and interrogated them for several hours, the Russian online newspaper Gazeta.ru reported.

The report quoted Sergei Alexeyenko, head of the local non-governmental organization Center Maximum, which assisted the filmmakers, as saying that the police were looking for minors when they detained all of the participants of the camp. “To their disappointment, there were no underage people, so all the Russians were released after four hours,” he said. “But the Dutch were interrogated for eight hours.”

The police also looked at the footage shot by the filmmakers, checking the age of people being filmed, and found a young man who was 17. “The police officers ran a check on one person and figured out he was only 17,” Alexeyenko said, adding that the young man had indicated his age as 18 while signing up for the camp.

The filmmakers were scheduled to fly back to Holland early on July 22 but were summoned to court on the same day. “Instead of being on the plane, we are still in Murmansk,” van der Veen, who also heads the non-governmental organization LGBT-Groningen, wrote on his Facebook page at around noon on July 22. “[It] is about the documentary, gay propaganda.”

He added that the filmmakers are getting support from local activists and the Dutch consulate, but the situation is still unclear.

Under the law against gay propaganda among minors, which came into force in Russia on July 1, foreign citizens could face a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($155), 15 days in jail and deportation.