Russian Government Spied on Meeting of LGBT Activists, Aired Audio on TV

The Russian government bugged a strategy meeting of LGBT activists last month and are using the audio to influence perceptions about gays ahead of the Sochi Games, Buzzfeed reports:

OsfThis surveillance was revealed on November 12, when a state television channel broadcast audio from the meeting as part of a program presented as an exposé of the “threat to Russia” posed by the “homosexualists who attempt to infiltrate our country.”

The inclusion of a few minutes of this audio sent a chill through human rights activists in Russia and abroad…

…By highlighting Western human rights groups’ interest in Russia, the program also appeared to be laying the groundwork for potentially accusing LGBT rights activists of being “foreign agents,” which could be grounds for huge fines if activists are found to be taking money from foreign sources without reporting it to the authorities. The “foreign agent” law, passed last year, has been widely criticized for stifling Russia’s already embattled civil society.

According to participants of the meeting, which was convened by the Open Society Foundation (a group founded by George Soros) and included members of international LGBT human rights groups and smaller Russian activist groups, the meeting was intended to strategize on how to assist the Russian groups against increased oppression ahead of the Sochi games.