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Russian Gay Teen Support Group's Founder Fined

Yelena Klimova, a journalist who runs an online support group for LGBT teenagers, will appeal the decision.
Yelena Klimova, a journalist who runs an online support group for LGBT teenagers, will appeal the decision.

A district court in Russia has fined a journalist who founded an online support group for LGBT teenagers after finding her guilty of violating the country's so-called gay-propaganda law.

Yelena Klimova wrote on VKontakte, Russia's most popular social network, that a court in her native city of Nizhny Tagil in the Urals region ruled on July 28 that she should be fined 50,000 rubles ($840). Klimova wrote that she would appeal the decision.

Klimova has come under pressure for more than 18 months over her online support group, which caters to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) teenagers in Russia and is known as Deti-404 (Children-404). The number "404" refers to the "page not found" error code in Internet searches.

In February 2014 Klimova was charged with violating Russia's law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors," which was signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013.

The charge was filed on the basis of a complaint from Vitaly Milonov -- the member of St. Petersburg's Legislative Assemblyman who was the architect of the controversial legislation.

Milonov demanded that Klimova be fined and her website shut down under the law.

In November, Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor said that it had received more than 150 complaints from "citizens and organizations" protesting the activities of Deti-404.

Roskomnadzor did not specify what on the project's pages constituted "gay propaganda," and suggested Klimova was not fit to counsel LGBT teenagers.

In response, Klimova slammed the country's "gay propaganda" law, and accused the authorities of failing to provide support to LGBT teenagers in a country where homophobia is widespread.

In January 2015, the district court in Nizhny Tagil found Klimova guilty and fined her 50,000 rubles.

On March 25, a court of appeals in Nizhny Tagil annulled the fine after finding numerous violations of procedural norms and regulations during the first trial and sent the case to another judge in the city.

However, the second trial on July 28 at the original district court once again found Klimova guilty and restored the fine.

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