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 Pride festivities turn violent 
Violence mars Moscow Gay Pride, military expenditures continue to rise, Russia on verge of AIDS crisis

Gay Pride hits the streets of Moscow
This past weekend, LGBT activists attempted to stage Russia’s first ever gay-pride parade in Moscow. Despite Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s vow to prevent the festivities from occurring, parade organizers went ahead with their plans to highlight the continued discrimination they face in living an openly gay lifestyle.

As the parade proceeded on Saturday, violence did indeed break out, as skinheads, members of far-right political parties and Orthodox and Muslim believers swarmed LGBT marchers chanting, “Sodom won’t pass here” and “Death to Fags”. Some 120 people were arrested and several were hospitalized including Volker Beck, an openly gay member of the German Bundestag, who travelled to Moscow along with Clementine Autain, Vice-Mayor of Paris, and European Parliament member Sophie int Veld, to support the marchers.

Homosexuality was, until 1993, a crime punishable by lengthy prison sentences and forced detentions in mental health facilities. However, even today, Russian gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals clearly continue to face an uphill battle in being able to live free from fear and prejudice. Employers are notorious for firing workers suspected of being gay and police rarely investigate physical or verbal attacks against homosexuals.

Russian scientists test new vaccine
This past Tuesday, Russian scientists began the first human clinical trials for a new H5N1 bird flu vaccine. The 120 adult volunteers were chosen from among several high risk groups, and will be monitored for the next several weeks by the St. Petersburg Flu Institute and the Moscow Vaccine and Serum Institute.

Experts have long feared that the bird flu virus will eventually mutate into a more easily transmissible strain which could trigger a devastating pandemic. The Russian government is cautiously optimistic that the trials will yield promising results as several regions in Western Siberia – Novosibirsk, Omsk and Altai Territory – have already seen their avian population stricken by the H5N1 strain. As yet, however, the virus has not claimed any human lives in Russia.

Russian military expenditures up
In a recent meeting with members of the state Duma, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that Russian military expenditures would rise to $29.6 billion by 2007, a figure representing 2.7 percent of the national GDP. An additional $185 billion was also being allocated to speed up the acquisition of next-generation heavy artillery equipment. The meeting followed an earlier address to the Federal Assembly by Putin, in which the President argued that “the stronger the armed forces, the weaker the temptation to dictate one’s terms”.

Many analysts have pointed to both statements as evidence that Russian – U.S. relations are indeed deteriorating rapidly. Yet, despite threats from various U.S. political leaders that Washington would adopt a harsher line, Moscow has continued to aggressively rebuild its armed forces and develop strategic military alliances with various states deemed hostile to U.S. interests to counter-balance what it argues is the harmful unilateral domination of international affairs by the United States.

Together with rising domestic military expenditures, in the past week Russian defense officials have also confirmed the delivery of 29 TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles to Iran and announced that negotiations to license the manufacture of Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition in Venezuela were proceeding quickly. Both developments further heighten the stakes for the upcoming meeting between Presidents’ Putin and Bush at the G8 summit in July, as the U.S. and Russia attempt to resolve their ongoing disagreements over Iran, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Russia on verge of AIDS crisis
While most associate the AIDS epidemic with Africa, Russia appears on the verge of a crisis of its own, as experts have predicted that well over a million Russians are now living with HIV. Everyday in Russia, one hundred individuals will contract the AIDS virus, while twenty infants will be born to HIV-positive mothers, many of whom will be abandoned at birth.

The unfortunate reality is that both the Russian state and the international community have failed to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem. Critics have long argued that AIDS sufferers are “stigmatized and neglected” by the state and the Russian population at large, which has only further fuelled the crisis as misinformation abounds from a lack of public debate and where shame of contracting the virus keeps victims from seeking treatment.

Worse still, even as only ten percent of victims receive funding for treatment, Russia is in danger of losing what little aid it receives because the World Bank has recently reclassified it as an “upper middle-income” country. Groups such as Human Rights Watch have however, pointed to Russia’s crumbling public health system, growing problems with illegal drug use and the widespread lack of public knowledge as evidence that the state is dangerously ill-prepared to deal with AIDS in any substantial way.

Russia, which is hosting this year’s G8 Summit in July, is planning on using the meeting to call attention to the crisis in the hopes of raising the more than $100 million necessary to help treat and educate its citizens. The campaign is being applauded by activists who, while acknowledging that more needs to be done, recognize the announcement as the first step towards opening a dialogue with the state on the problem.

A special thanks to mwm for passing along some great articles!

Judy

Posted by Judy
Born and raised in Toronto, I'm now heading over to the UK to pursue an MA in Russian Politics, Security and Integration. I'm crazy about feminism, multilateralism, peacekeeping, the Toronto Maple Leafs and puppies.

Disclaimer: Statements and opinions expressed in articles published on this site are those of the authors and not of the staff or editors of GNN, unless otherwise stated.

RECENT COMMENTS

Great work Judy. Thanks for another informative roundup.

anthony @ 06/11/06 19:22:38

Awesome, Judy. I should get my ass in gear and do another Asia roundup tomorrow.

Snark @ 06/11/06 19:24:01

Another nice collection of articles.
Glad to help. I just hope I can remember to pass along any articles I stumble across, and not just leave them on the editing room floor.

mwm @ 06/12/06 05:33:02

Hi Judith,

Yes, thanks for your work. My usual wants apply, if you haven’t seen these questions before, my apologies for what will seem brusque and rude and shocking. So much for the disclaimer…

I would like to ask, which kind of AIDS does Russia now have?

The kind reported in The Lancet in 1992?

“Sir, In the May 9 issue of The Lancet, Round the World correspondents discussed AIDS-associated problems in former Eastern bloc countries…I would like to emphasize another alarming concern – namely, the rapid growth in false-positive HIV tests in the former USSR, and in Russia especially.”

“In 1990, of 20.2 million HIV tests done in Russia only 12 were confirmed and about 20,000 were false positives.”

“1991 saw some 30,000 false positives out of 29.4 million tests, with only 66 confirmations.” HERE

Or the kind reported in Africa in 2003 (as reported in the Boston Globe):

“Ties Boerma, who is in charge of the WHO’s estimates on the HIV virus, said the UN was preparing to reduce prevalence estimates again this year, although not by 25 percent. Yet Chin and several other specialists say new data from several countries and from high-risk groups in countries suggest that the UN should do so.”

“Chin said he thinks the global rate is inflated by 25 percent to 40 percent, while two US health officials working on AIDS said they think the global numbers may be 50 percent inflated. The two spoke on condition of anonymity.” HERE

Or the kind noted in Africa in 2006:

“An independent study of AIDS in Africa, funded by an international consortium and performed in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, found that 3 percent of Rwandans age 15 to 49 are infected with HIV, a much lower figure than the 30 percent estimated by some researchers or the 13 percent estimated by the United Nations.”

“Infection rates, the study found, were similarly overstated throughout East and West Africa, although in southern Africa the rate of infection remained extremely high: for example, 34.9 percent of Botswanans in the 15 to 49 age group are infected with HIV. “From a research point of view,” a British economist said of UNAIDS, “they’ve done a pathetic job.” HERE

And how do all those incredibly poor, destitute, famine, plague and war-ravaged people keep having that crazy kind of sex that really f***s them up so very badly, but that keeps missing the co-ed dormatories at San Diego State? (Big party school, that).

Just wondering.

Enjoy more on the topic HERE

And Anthony, feel free to give me a ring while in editorial and ask for, like, maybe a tiny addendum.

Liam @ 06/12/06 21:38:27

Liam,

You are more than welcome to your own opinions, as am I and everyone else on this site.

What I present with my CIS roundup is a summary of various news items from Russia and other former Soviet states from as many news sources as possible. Each reader will take from it what they will.

I won’t debate with you because I think AIDS presents a legitimate crisis. I really don’t care if 100 million or just 10 people are affected – it is a debilitating and devastating disease and it deserves national and international attention.

Again, you’re certainly welcome to your opinion and if anyone else would like to comment they most certainly can.

Judy @ 06/13/06 19:38:20

if anyone else would like to comment they most certainly can

Liam, I know you have been following and writing about AIDS for sometime, and you have provided some thoughtful analysis in the past, but I fail to see your motivations for denying the existence or severity of AIDS.

Even the the external reference you provided had many data and references supporting the existence and severity of this pandemic. Although your mistrust of scientific literature is documented, it doesn’t excuse your selective approach in citing academic references.

I know you have several threads on this topic, so I don’t mean to turn Judy’s wonderful article into an academic pissing contest, nor do I mean to be rude. But frankly, you have been rude in requesting an addendum, as I’m sure the editor would have provided one if it was necessary. It is also extremely callous of you to make light of millions of deaths worldwide in your statement:

And how do all those incredibly poor, destitute, famine, plague and war-ravaged people keep having that crazy kind of sex that really f***s them up so very badly…

[fucktile edit]
tango @ 06/13/06 21:07:22

Sister Judy, Brother Tango,

I have a point of view, and you will either be interested in why I have it, and how I came to it, or you will dismiss it as too bizarre to be true.

AIDS is eugenics. Period.

I’ve written about it for a while now, I’ve seen some bloody horrible things. I’ve covered from the perspective of children tortured in medical experiments, gay men self-torturing in cultural apologea for their cultural sin of homosexuality. Africans tormented by white scientists secure in the notion that the dark people have dark sex that brings their death, but that their shit-filled water and war-ravaged land has nothing to do with it.

I’ve tried to talk to the liberals about why they feel the need to place this death sentence on people based on tests that do not test for viruses, for illnesses that are packaged and conflated and renamed as one brand-name disease.

I have begged, pleaded, impaled myself on the mercy of charlatans, illiterates, and dogmatists who do not and will not read, and will not shake their conviction even a little to allow for a real and thorough examination of the paradigm.

I have had wonderful, beautiful conversations with people working inside of the paradigm, who agree with everything I say, but are unable to do a goddamn thing about it, lest they suicide their careers.

And so, I will simply point out to you that there are those of us who will never approve of the notion that giving persons tests that exibit 30,000 false positives for 66 “confirmations” is in any way a responsible or reasonable way to inform people that they have some sort of thing, irreproducible as it is in testing, based on more conjecture than alien abductions and bigfoot combined, but firmly entrenched in an easy belief that some people have sex that kills them, and some people don’t…

that any and all of this is enough to give one of these goddamn tests to a poor Russian or Indian, or Chinese, or African, and with the power vested in ye, by the state of academic science, to tell them that they are going to die, absolutely, without a doubt, in the exact manner that gay men who had so many reasons to be ill and to die in the 1980s did. Unless they take your very poisonous drugs. Amen.

I’ve written about it enough. There’s not a lot more I can add to the formative history. You can read the depth of the literature if you want. You can follow my name to my webpage, you can read the debates on the subject. You can ask those unaskable, inappropriate, callous, necessary questions. Or you can be offended and find it callous, or rude, or whatever. I apologized up front for the bruising of cultural perception. I apologize again, if it helps.

I don’t have much more to say about it, except to point out the inconsistencies, for those whose senses aren’t so easily disturbed by evidence to the contrary.

I’m sorry you don’t agree. I’m sure there are many things we could agree upon. This is not one of them. We’ll just have to live with it.

Many happy days, many good things,

Liam

Liam @ 06/15/06 23:33:21

Excuse my butting in on the conversation. I would just like to register, from the viewpoint of someone who has been following the Aids debate quite closely for about two decades and as a writer of articles and collecter of information about the syndrome, my substantial agreement with what Liam is saying.

Aids is substantially a government-sanctioned genocide. Apart from the test that is openly acknowledged as not working, yet is used to pronounce a death sentence for the unfortunates that register on it, there are the medications that are openly acknowledged to CAUSE some of the very symptoms that make up what we call Aids.

Apart from that, there is a steadfast refusal to look at any alternative modes of treatment. No consideration of anything else than the government-sponsored and ridiculously expensive and highly toxic drugs given in a “cocktail”...

My site has articles about all angles of the AIDS diatribe, from tests to the hypothesis of a retrovirus causing the syndrome, to actual possible natural (nutritional) interventions that have been shown to help and at times cure.

See Health Supreme

Going to the archives and searching “Aids” or using the google search at the top of each page, it’s easy to find those articles.

Yes, I am also one of those who don’t follow the official line on Aids. All I can do is invite you to look around and read all about it, without glancing at one article and saying – “well, there is another denialist…”

Our health deserves better than slogans and pharmaceutically inspired propaganda.

Kind regards
Sepp

sepp @ 06/16/06 06:09:25

Liam,
here’s what you’re up against: “I really don’t care if 100 million or just 10 people are affected – it is a debilitating and devastating disease and it deserves national and international attention.”

The perception that there’s NEVER ENOUGH being done about this…that there’s just not enough attention on AIDS.

How can that be? AIDS is the most popular “disease” (it’s a syndrome, actually) in the history of humanity. But despite that, there’s NEVER ENOUGH being done to educate the world that sex kills (pretty much everybody but good, decent, white heterosexuals living in the west).

As a gay man in his forties, I’ve been with this since it was called “GRID”. How have I been able to avoid getting “AIDS”? Abstinence? No. Condoms? No. “Safe” sex? No. Answer: I just didn’t believe in it.

AIDS requires religious faith. To believe in HIV=AIDS you must let go of critical thinking and abandon reason. To believe in HIV/AIDS you must allow yourself to follow along with the science, but not too closely, otherwise you’ll realize that the story keeps changing (AIDS has had four definitions in the US that I’m aware of).

I agree with Liam about “AIDS” being the penance for the cultural sin of homosexuality. I’ve lived it. I’ve seen how gay men were so quickly drawn to this idea that their sex kills them. They still are drawn to it, unable and/or unwilling to ask themselves why they believe what they believe. It seems that we still haven’t absolved ourselves of our cultural sins, so let the sacrifices continue.

The rest of the world wrings its hands over “AIDS”. Always looking for a reaction to a non-specific, non-standardized antibody test, and then proclaiming a death sentence on the damned. Once HIV takes over the mind, nothing else exists. For the damned, their living conditions are a “zero” in the equation. For gay men specifically, the toxicology is a “zero”. “HIV” blinds.

I agree that there isn’t being enough education done about “AIDS”. Not enough done to question the very construct of AIDS.

notdansavage @ 06/16/06 07:58:51

Liam, your second post on this thread represents my viewpoint exactly on this topic. Thanks for caring enough to continue to post here.

YT_ @ 06/16/06 15:15:13

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