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British Actor Fry Clashes With St. Petersburg ‘Gay Propaganda’ Lawmaker

Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov (left) with British actor and writer Stephen Fry at the Mayakovsky Library, St. Petersburg on March 14.
Stalin once famously quipped, "How many divisions does the pope have?"

Maybe before agreeing to be interviewed by British writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry, St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly member Vitaly Milonov should have asked, “How many Twitter followers does he have?”

Fry, who is in St. Petersburg to shoot part of a documentary called “Out There” about local gay communities, told his 5.5 million followers that he and Milonov went at it “hammer and tongs” during their meeting on March 14.

Milonov is the author of the city’s infamous law banning “gay propaganda,” an initiative that has been imitated in other parts of Russia and in other former Soviet countries. In January, the Russian State Duma passed a national version of the bill in its first reading by a vote of 388-1.

After the contentious interview Fry, who is openly gay, tweeted that “Milonov doesn’t seem to believe there are teenagers bullied and tormented for being gay, he thinks they make it up & indoctrinate to minors.” He added that Milonov told him Britain had been “destroyed by liberalism.”

For good measure and seemingly apropos of nothing, Fry also used the occasion to inform his Twitter fans that Russian President Vladimir Putin bears a striking resemblance to Dobby the elf from the film “Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.”

He then went one step further by wondering if the Dobby comment might lead to him being “poisoned by one of [Putin’s] agents,” apparently a reference to the 2006 poisoning in London of former Russian secret service officer Aleksandr Litvinenko.

For his part, Milonov told journalists he will pray for Fry and his family. That contrasts to his calls in August 2012 for singer Madonna to be prosecuted under the law he wrote for saying during a concert in the city that fans should show “love and appreciation for the gay community.”

Fry was scheduled to leave St. Petersburg later on March 14.

-- RFE/RL’s Central Newsroom

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