The prominent Moscow theater Sovremennik (Contemporary) has been accused of propagating same-sex relations and insulting World War II veterans in a recent performance.
The RIA Novosti news agency reported on July 21 that it had obtained the text of a complaint filed by the Kremlin-backed Officers of Russia nongovernmental organization against the theater's performance of the play The First Bread.
The complaint was sent to the theater's management, the Moscow mayor's office, and the Prosecutor-General's Office.
The complaint says that the Officers of Russia organization, which brings together army veterans, has received "numerous complaints from war veterans" who considered the play "offensive" because it had "excessive use of swear words" and "blatant propaganda of same-sex love."
The group also says that a monologue by a character played by the popular actress Lia Akhedzhakova contains phrases that insult war veterans. The Ukrainian-born Akhedzhakova is an outspoken Kremlin critic, who has openly condemned Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014.
The Officers of Russia are demanding the theater change the text of the monologues and dialogue in the performance "to avoid insulting war veterans and propagating same-sex relations."
In 2013, Russia approved a controversial law banning any content that presents "distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations." Rights groups see the legislation as the de facto outlawing of LGBT activism.
The Kremlin has recently used the pretext of "insulting" war veterans as a tool to suppress dissent. In February jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was ordered to pay a hefty fine for "defaming" a World War II veteran who appeared in a video in 2020 advocating the removal of presidential term limits.
The First Bread performance was based on a play by Rinat Tashimov and staged by Polish director Benjamin Kotz.
The Sovremennik theater was founded in the late 1950s by a group of young Soviet actors during the Khrushchev "thaw." Dozens of actors who were extremely popular in the former Soviet Union started their careers at the Sovremennik.