Staunton, September 2 – According to unconfirmed reports, the Russian authorities have arrested Vladislav Poznyakov, the founder and leader of the radical Russian chauvinist Male State movement, while he was attempting to cross the Russian border into Azerbaijan (nakanune.ru/news/2021/09/02/22618381/).
His supporters say that in addition, many of the telegram channels Pozdnyakov has used to inspire his followers to attack sexual minorities, foreign food restaurants, and all others who do not conform to his patriarchal, male chauvinist, and radical nationalist views have now been blocked (t.me/doktorvladi/12670).
Pozdnyakov, 30, a professional fitness trainer, organized the Male State in 2016 as a closed group on Russia’s VKontakte. But the group very quickly attracted “thousands of subscribers and supporters” of his chauvinist and violence-prone message, journalist Arina Korelina says (secretmag.ru/survival/chto-takoe-muzhskoe-gosudarstvo-i-pochemu-ono-terroriziruet-rossiiskii-biznes.htm).
In 2020, VKontakte blocked his site, which at the time had more than 160,000 subscribers. It said Pozdnyakov’s attacks on women, sexual and racial minorities violated the company’s policies. But then the leader of the Male State moved to telegram where he has remained because Telegram channel does not have rules that it could apply.
Male State first attracted widespread attention during the World Cup competition in Russia. The group attacked on line and sometimes physically Russian women who went out with foreigners in general and racially distinct ones in particular. But the attention it received also caused its attentive public to grow.
For his attacks on racial and sexual minorities, Pozdnyakov was convicted of extremism but given a suspended sentence of only two years, and he has continued to operate (ren.tv/news/kriminal/372696-sozdatelia-muzhskogo-gosudarstva-prigovorili-k-2-godam-uslovno).
But while his views have remained unchanged, Pozdnyakov has shifted his targets. Instead of going after minorities political, sexual or racial, he has gone after companies that use pictures of them in their advertising, threatening to close their stores or restaurants down if they don’t comply.
According to Korelina, he has had some success. Some companies have decided it is better not to fight him but to pull the pictures and apologize (secretmag.ru/news/schitaem-publikaciyu-svoei-oshibkoi-vkusvill-udalil-reklamu-s-lgbt-paroi.htm). But others are standing firm and demanding the government protect them (tass.ru/obschestvo/12256889).
And it is this threat to business interests rather than any interest in defending the rights of minorities that appears to be behind what the Russian authorities have done. Two days ago as the clash between the Male State and a network of sushi restaurants came to dominate the media in Russia, the Kremlin reacted.
On August 31, Putin’s press
spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is following the conflict and
that if it concludes that the Male State has acted in violation of Russian law,
“the organs must react” (tass.ru/obschestvo/12261291).
Attacks on minorities can be ignored, but attacks on businesses are something
the Kremlin can’t and apparently hasn’t ignored.