A former mayor turned artist in Russia has flown a giant rainbow flag toward the Kremlin in Moscow. Dozens of rainbow balloons filled with helium raised the flag.
Videos of the action appeared on social media on Saturday night. According to the Moscow Times, the protest was orchestrated by performance artist and former mayor, Alexander Donskoy. The flag was raised in Manezhnaya Square and flew towards the Kremlin.
— МБХ Медиа (@MBKhMedia) August 15, 2020
Donskoy was formerly the mayor of the Northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk (from 2005-2008). He announced in 2006 that he intended to stand for the Presidency of Russia, but was arrested in 2007 and accused of economic crimes and abuse of office. He received a three-year probationary sentence. His supporters say the charges were politically motivated.
Since that time, he has made a name for himself as a modern artist and gallery owner. In 2017, he made headlines around the world for a stun that involved him driving his Ferrari around a shopping mall for several minutes before being stopped by security guards.
He came as out as gay to a journalist in October 2017.
Donskoy told the independent Novaya Gazeta that he took his latest action in response to President Putin criticizing foreign embassies hanging rainbow flags outside their buildings. He also wanted to highlight the recent destruction of his gallery in the center of Moscow by unknown suspects.
He called the demonstration, ‘LGBT Over The Kremlin’. A banner with Donskoy’s name was attached to the bottom of the flag.
Earlier this summer, the US Embassy was one such building to proudly display a Pride flag outside during Pride month. Although US Embassies were barred by the Trump administration from flying the rainbow flag from official flagpoles, they are free to hang them elsewhere inside or outside their buildings.
Hanging the flag outside the embassy was a provocative move. Russia implemented a so-called “gay propaganda” law in 2013. The legislation bars the “promotion” of anything other than traditional family values to minors. It has been used to prohibit any expression of LGBTQ rights, including Pride parades, in the country.
Putin later mocked the gesture, suggesting that hanging the rainbow flag outside the embassy, “revealed something about the people that work there … Yes, we passed a law banning the propaganda of homosexuality among minors. So what? Let people grow up, become adults and then decide their own destinies.”