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From Burning Hearts To Civil Unions: The Unlikely Evolution Of Dmitry Kiselyov

"Love can work miracles," says Dmitry Kiselyov. "Who is against that?"
"Love can work miracles," says Dmitry Kiselyov. "Who is against that?"

Somewhere around the 98th minute of his weekly news roundup and commentary for Russia's Rossiya television channel this week, Dmitry Kiselyov got around to saying something truly unexpected.

In his coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages, the head of Rossia Segodnya, Russia's massive state-controlled media conglomerate, came out in favor of same-sex civil unions:

"We can figure out how to make life easier for adult people who want to take upon themselves -- including in a contractual way -- the obligations to care for one another."

"After all, love can work miracles," he added. "Who is against that?"

To be sure, it was a tepid statement from someone who is more famous for colorful pronouncements such as his March 2014 reminder that Russia is capable of turning the United States into "radioactive dust."

In April 2012, Kiselyov raised eyebrows with this now-notorious declaration on homosexuals: "[Gays] should be prohibited from donating blood or sperm. And their hearts, in case they die in a car accident, should be buried or burned as unfit for extending anyone's life."

During the June 28 edition of his weekly Vesti Nedeli, Kiselyov urged people not to think about homosexual relationships in terms of sex and compared his vision of civil unions to existing laws that cover cases of guardianship. After all, it doesn't matter what gender the guardian or the ward is, he argued.

Marriage, he said, must remain exclusively between a man and a woman.

"But civil unions are a different thing, a different level," Kiselyov said. "And we don't need to see men wearing white lace to weddings or throwing bouquets over their shoulders."

Russia has been harshly criticized for its record on gay rights, especially since it passed a 2013 law banning the "propaganda" of alternative lifestyles to minors. Activists say that law has provoked a sharp increase in antigay attacks and vigilantism and a spike in Russians seeking asylum abroad fearing such violence.

In comments to Interfax on June 28, Konstantin Dobrynin, a member of the Federation Council from Arkhangelsk Oblast, also struck a surprising note, urging Russia to "try to find a legal form that would ensure a social balance on this topic between the conservative part of society and all the rest."

Dobrinin said "don't ask, don't tell" might just be "the optimal formulation" for the near future.

Asked about an initiative by St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov to ban Facebook because it allows users to decorate their profiles with the rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Dobrinin was particularly blunt:

"We need to remove from the political sphere and from our lives these quasi-politicians who are openly speculating on homophobia and generating legislative spam -- and the sooner, the better," Dobryinin said. "It is precisely them -- and not gays -- who present a clear and present threat to Russian security and the government should fight against them."

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