Mocking Cartoon Draws Orthodox Ire in Russia

Russian gays have upset the Orthodox church with a satirical cartoon. And not for the first time.

Last week I published a story about how the Northern Russian Arkhangelskaya Oblast region passed a law banning ‘gay propaganda,’ outlawing support for LGBT human rights. This was the second region to do so in a move which the Russian Supreme Court has previously allowed. That story was also about the hypocrisy involved, with the former mayor of the capital,  Arkhangelsk, Aleksandr Donskoi, saying that many politicians and business people in the city use the services of transsexual prostitutes.

That story was illustrated with the regional coat of arms, which shows the Archangel killing the Devil with a sword.

The cartoon published by mocking the ‘gay propaganda’ law reverses the coat of arms, with the Devil – personifying homophobia – killing the Archangel.

Orthodox homophobes feel themselves insulted by such a “blasphemous, mocking cartoon.” This is the claim of the co-president of the “Narodnyi Sobor” movement, Oleg Kassin, in his letter to Russian General Attorney Yuri Chaika. Kassin wants the website closed down and its owners punished.

Apparently the cartoon “extremely disturbs Christians, humiliates their dignity and insults their feelings”.

The extreme religious nationalists group has used Russian law before to get artists fined. They have an English language website called ‘deviant art’ which well illustrates their nationalist politics.

In 2007 they pushed for scientist Vitaly Ginzburg‘s prosecution for publicly criticizing the influence of the resurgent Orthodox Church in Russian schools.

Fortunately, following previous online attacks which have shut down the website, is no longer physically located in Russia, so it can’t be shut down by Russian authorities. However its owners are in Russia, so the threat to them is real.

The website has been here before. Another clerical nationalist group previously asked the authorities to investigate a cartoon published on the website picturing an orthodox priest and a neo-Nazi shaking hands.

That cartoon illustrated the sort of crowds which appear at violently anti-gay demonstrations, approved by the authorities in Russia when pro-gay rallies are banned, which call for the death of homosexuals, amongst other things.


Related stories:

Russian Politicians Ban ‘Gay Propaganda,’ Hire Trans Prostitutes

Pro-LGBT Rally in Moscow Attacked by Fascists

A(nother) Day in the Life of Homophobic Russia



Alex Hill
Alex Hill6 years ago

'They have an English language website called ‘deviant art’ which well illustrates their nationalist politics.'

Think you meant to say they have an account on Deviant Art. For a moment I almost thought Russian extremists where running one of the best art communities on the net. Otherwise a good read.

Theo C.
Theo C6 years ago

I am offended by people who use religion of any kind to defend their bigotry.

There is nothing divine about bigotry.

Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

I find it really hard to let people beliefs be ofensive to me as long as their beilefs phisically hurt no one or nothing other than them selves. So I see nother wrong with this

Alice B.
Alice B6 years ago

Thank you for this one, Paul. *Very* enlightening.

Carola May
Carola May6 years ago

Roger N, your comment is well thought out, but your last statement "I think the cartoon was an error in judgement and was obviously designed to offend Xtians." I must take disagreement with. It would seem from the article that the cartoon was meant to offend the bigots who use the obverse to persecute those who are born with a different sexual orientation, not necessarily Christians as a whole.

What true Christian who actually believes in and tries to follow the teachings of Jesus would be offended, let alone persecute gay people whom Jesus never ever said a word against?

Sadly, Russia has always been a feudal society, which the Russian church has always seemed to uphold (like the Buddhist 'church' has always done in Tibet and many other religions have done everywhere throughout history. Religion rarely is on the side of progress, enlightenment and scientific advancement).

It appears that, even today, Russians still choose to remain an ignorant superstitious feudal society even now that they have the partial right to vote for their first time in history.

Nick Scales
Nicholas Scales6 years ago

love it have to rob it for my facebook profile

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago


Roger Nehring
Roger Nehring6 years ago

Suzette, you have some good points re: the official position(if any) of the Russian Orthodox Church. That would certainly be relevant. The image of the devil slaying the archangel would indeed be troubling to most, if not all Christians, not just Eastern Orthodox. However, the article cleraly states the source of the uproar as a nationalist group, the “Narodnyi Sobor” movement. The right of Christians to live out their faith life is certainlt not the purview of this article, which does indeed use some infammatory language. I think the cartoon was an error in judgement and was obviously designed to offend Xtians. Not the wisest tactical move.

Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

Before the day is over I will continue to take care of an 82 yo. man with Alzheimer's, take my two rescue dogs for a run (them, not me, running) and sort books with several other volunteers for senior centers, books giveaways at high schools that have almost no books on their shelves.

Some time this seek I will be meeting with a high school graduate who cannot read at the 4th grade level, hence, he can't get a job, although he had a diploma.

Tonight I will watch a scary movie, and spend several hours replenishing my batteries with good literature. Nothing in my day, either thought or action, will be something I regret, neither today or in the future. Live your life to owe no apologies.

With much reading and experiences under my belt, I know enough to not vent at every opportunity. I know the world, if thought of as a person, is clinically insane enough to be committed for the safety of the members of the community. Troubling there is no one to sign the commitment papers. Maybe that's why we lack commitment to one another.

And I will be back at work tomorrow, and few know how I truly spend my free time.

Disagreement there is room for, not hate. I haven't the time.

Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

They find that blasphemous?? Well, I suggest they launch a Jihad, or Crusade, in response. History has shown this to be in the best interests of God; righteous indignation escalating to perpetual warfare.

I will quite satisfied if religion, any, never produces another hero, martyr or saint.