Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin MOSCOW | Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:57am EDT MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Sunday criticized what it said were Western attempts to use a Syrian chemical arms disarmament deal to seek a U.N. resolution threatening force against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Syria has handed over information about its chemical arsenal to a U.N.-backed weapons watchdog, meeting the first deadline of the ambitious U.S.-Russia deal that averted the threat of Western air strikes. The U.N. Security Council is due to give its endorsement of the deal, but Moscow and Washington are divided over how to ensure compliance with the accord. U.S. President Barack Obama has warned that he is still prepared to attack Syria, even without a U.N. mandate, if Assad reneges on the deal. “They see in the U.S.-Russian deal not a chance to save the planet from significant quantities of chemical weapons in Syria, but as a chance to do what Russia and China will not allow, namely to push through a resolution involving (the threat of) force against the regime and shielding the opposition,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state television posted on his ministry’s website. Lavrov also said Russia, which has used its veto to block Western efforts to use the U.N. Security Council’s clout to pressure Assad’s government, was ready to send troops to Syria to ensure the safety of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors. “An international presence is needed on the perimeters of the areas where the experts will work,” he said. “We are willing to send our troops and military police to participate,” he said.
When I hit Europe, astute readers noted that the further east one went, the more hateful the countries got. From sunnily dispositioned Spain and Belgium, things got cold in the old Warsaw Pact countries, and downright Ice Agey in the former Soviet Union. It goes without saying that Russia has since gone from the Ice Age to deep freeze, and as a luxury gay travel organizer, my advice is simple: Do. Not. Go. It case you’ve been living under a particularly heavy rock, Russian President Vladimir Putin (who is very quickly becoming a convincing stunt double for Josef Stalin) pushed through what is formally called Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses. For all practical purposes, it outlaws talking positively about homosexuality and is a backslide of historic proportions. In the end, what it proves is that Russia, which has always tried to prove itself a respected power in the eyes of Europe and the West, has once again only really just cornered the market on despotism. Again. PolicyMic.com has an excellent summary of the law. The following is an excerpt taken from author Innokenty Grekov’s analysis of the statute : Propaganda is the act of distributing information among minors that 1) is aimed at the creating nontraditional sexual attitudes, 2) makes nontraditional sexual relations attractive, 3) equates the social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations, or 4) creates an interest in nontraditional sexual relations. If you’re Russian. Individuals engaging in such propaganda can be fined 4,000 to 5,000 rubles (120-150 USD), public officials are subject to fines of 40,000 to 50,000 rubles (1,200-1,500 USD), and registered organizations can be either fined (800,000-1,000,000 rubles or 24,000-30,000 USD) or sanctioned to stop operations for 90 days. If you engage in the said propaganda in the media or on the internet, the sliding scale of fines shifts: for individuals, 50,000 to 100,000 rubles; for public officials, 100,000 to 200,000 rubles, and for organizations, from one million rubles or a 90-day suspension.