After Putin Diss, Obama to Meet Russian Gay Activists

Prediction: the Kremlin will not be amused

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 2, 2013 4:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Looks like President Obama has found something to fill the time he won't spend meeting with Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Russia this week: he's going to meet with gay rights activists instead. Buzzfeed confirms that LGBT organization Coming Out, human rights activists Lev Ponomarev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, and the director of a legal aid NGO are among those invited to a Thursday meeting with Obama in St. Petersburg.

Also believed to have been invited but not confirmed: a group called the LGBT Network and US-funded election watchdog Golos, which was recently forced by the Russian justice ministry to shut down for being a "foreign agent." ABC News has confirmed the meeting with a US official, and notes that although meetings between US officials and civil society members in Russia are not new, this seems to be the first time LGBT activists have been invited. This is probably not a coincidence.

Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Demonstrators hold a poster of Vladimir Putin during a protest march in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, against the new Russian anti-gay law.
Demonstrators hold a poster of Vladimir Putin during a protest march in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, against the new Russian anti-gay law.   (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
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