Connect with us

LGBT Activists Take Aim At Wall Street’s ‘Russia Day’




Video from 2012 “Russia Day” celebration with addition of imagery
of what has happened in Russia in the year since. 

On Monday, November 18, Wall Street will be celebrating “Russia Day,” described by the New York Stock Exchange as an opportunity for “executives to engage in strategic discussions with business peers, asset allocators and investors, and Russian government officials about the opportunities in doing business and investing in Russia today.” The day will culminate with Sergey Belyakov, Deputy Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation, ringing the closing bell.

Yes, an official of a country whose president is waging a war on the LGBT community will be ringing the closing bell of the iconic New York Stock Exchange.

Now, activists from New York City to São Paulo, Brazil are using this event as a platform to put the Russian government in the hot seat about Russia’s record on LGBT and human rights.

Already, they have secured three major wins: two sponsors and the keynote speaker have fled from being associated with this event.

After taking fire from LGBT activists, the President of the American Bar Association, James Silkenat, canceled his scheduled keynote address at the Russia Forum NY investors’ conference. Earlier, the Mayor’s Office of New York City also disavowed any ties to the Russia investment conference, after questioned about Russia Center New York’s claim that Mayor Bloomberg was a sponsor of the event.

The petitioner who targeted Silkenat with the petition, Bert Leatherman, a New Yorker and a graduate of New York University Law School now living in Brazil, has moved on. He is now petitioning the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Duncan Niederauer, to cancel the bell-ringing and other festivities celebrating Russia. Leatherman writes:

The New York Stock Exchange and Goodwin Procter are lending their credibility to the effort to entice American investors into investing in the Russian economy. On November 18, 2013, the NYSE will host Russia Day, when leading Russian government officials — some of them the very architects of Russia’s homophobic law banning any gay-positive speech and tacitly encouraging violence against LGBT Russians — will ring the closing bell at the stock exchange, to sickening applause from NYSE traders.

The other target in his sights was Goodwin Procter LLC, a prestigious law firm whose New York City offices were to be host to Russia Forum NY and the gathered Russian government officials. Goodwin Procter boasts of their LGBT inclusivity on their website, and filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. In whole, their record bears out the firm’s claim Goodwin Procter, LCC is a friend to the LGBT community.

 photo Goodwin-Procter-Logo_zps47c76a75.jpgAnd in fact, Goodwin Procter behaved as a friend. Reached for comment on Tuesday, Lee Feldman, Director of Communications for Goodwin Procter, LLC said, “We’ve informed [Russia Forum NY] that we will not be hosting or supporting the conference.” American Lawyer confirms, a Goodwin Procter spokesperson telling them:

“Recently, several troubling issues, including the Russian government’s anti-gay policies, were brought to our attention, and . . . Mr. Silkenat withdrew as keynote speaker for the event over this past weekend. These issues were discussed at length by Goodwin’s leaders, members of our Russian practice and the leaders of Goodwin’s longstanding partner-led GLBT Committee. Based on these concerns and Mr. Silkenat’s withdrawal, we reached a decision [Monday] night that we could not provide space or support for the event and communicated that to The Russian Center.”

This leaves the seminar homeless mere days before the convening. Queer Nation NY had already announced their intention to protest outside the offices of Goodwin Procter, Monday Nov. 18, concurrent with Russia Day on Wall Street. The location may change but Queer Nation says that protest action will go on, if event’s location can be ascertained. And there will also be an afternoon protest at the New York Stock Exchange, convening at Federal Hall steps at 3:15 pm to greet the 4:00 pm bell-ringing.

This action comes at a very bad time for Russia government, as they are working hard to counteract the effects of capital flight from the country. A recent study by one global financial analyst group estimates that, mostly due to crime and corruption, as much as US$782.5 billion left the country between 1994 and 2011. The figure is described as “massive” and raised “serious questions about the economic and political stability of the nation currently chairing the G20.”

 photo GS_zps59d42613.jpgSergey Belyakov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development is scheduled to ring the closing bell on trading Monday. According to the Moscow Times, in January 2013, Belyakov hired Goldman Sachs “to polish the image of the country’s investment potential abroad and lure foreign cash.” Polishing the image will mean convincing investors  to look past the the bottomless well of graft and corruption that Russia has long been and is still infamous for. And increasingly,  the unseemly spectacle of the country’s brutality to its LGBT citizens is also eclipsing all other news of the country.

In October, Queer Nation NY protested a similar investment seminar also organized by this same group and attended by at least four officials from the Moscow City government. During the course of the protester’s confrontation, attendees at Russia Forum NY shouted truly shockingly homophobic things at the protesters, including this gem straight out of the Russian demagoguery handbook:

“Gay culture should not be promoted because it will destroy the population of the educated classes.”

Goldman Sachs has arranged to send Russian government officials on a worldwide Russian Investment Roadshow. They are courting foreign money men (and women) and attempting to lure foreign capital into the struggling Russian economy. “Russia Day” is another stump stop on the investment roadshow.

For activists nationwide who are not able to make it to New York City on Monday, the CareXO Foundation is sponsoring a Thunderclap social media action for Sunday at noon. The Thunderclap service allows people to pre-schedule Tweets and Facebook posts and the service will then release them at synchronized time, allowing a group to flood social media with their message. In this case CareXO is sending this out:


Gilbert Baker, original designer of the rainbow flag, has designed a 90-foot rainbow banner that Queer Nation NY will unfurl at the New York Stock Exchange while Russian government officials ring the closing bell.

The Russian government has been particular belligerent when confronted on their abuse of human rights, for LGBT people, as well as on the topic of persecution of Greenpeace activists and the imprisonment of political dissidents Pussy Riot. They brush off critiques saying these are internal matters and Russia has no interest in being influenced by “western values.” The Russian government might find such belligerence is ill-suited for the task of coming to America—hat in hand—asking for value of western investment money to bailout  their ailing economy. As with South Africa, Americans of conscience will say, “Nyet.”

Scott Wooledge is a New York City based writer, activist, creative media professional, and political consultant.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


‘Aiding and Abetting’: Speaker Johnson Blasted for Blurring Faces of J6 Participants



Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is once again under fire, this time for intentionally blurring the faces of people caught on camera in the massive 40,000 hours of January 6 videos he ordered to be released to the public.

Speaker Johnson “said Republicans are blurring out the faces of people on the Jan. 6 tapes ‘because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and be charged the DOJ,'” Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman first reported Tuesday (video below).

Federal law enforcement agencies have used those videos to identify, arrest, charge, prosecute, and convict hundreds of criminals who acted unlawfully during the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The FBI set up a public tip line specifically for their Capitol investigation. While not everyone who was on Capitol grounds acted illegally, the videos provided evidence of wrongdoing. Countless social media users worked together to help identify some of the participants, as was detailed in NBC News’ justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly’s book, “Sedition Hunters.”

During his remarks Tuesday Johnson also claimed the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack was “a partisan exercise” that produced a “biased report” and “hid some of the important evidence.”

READ MORE: Florida GOP Chair Could Face ‘Censure or Discipline’ After Rape Allegation and Three-Way Sex Claim

The Speaker’s comments are in direct conflict with his recent statement defending his march toward an impeachment investigation of President Joe Biden.

Johnson, who frequently reminds reporters he is “a constitutional attorney,” was labeled by The New York Times recently as “a key architect of his party’s objections to certifying President Biden’s victory” in the 2020 election.

Last week, in promoting what some critics – and the White House – say are House Republicans’ baseless allegations against the President, Johnson also told reporters Republicans are “the rule of law team.”

The Speaker was quickly criticized for, as former GOP congressman Joe Walsh said, “aiding and abetting.”

“The party of the police; the party of law and order,” mocked MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan. Top national security attorney Brad Moss similarly wrote, “Party of ‘law and order.'”

“The House Republican Speaker doesn’t want people who broke the law on January 6 to be charged with a crime … and he said this publicly,” notes MSNBC columnist Michael A. Cohen.

READ MORE: RNC Chair Falsely Claims ‘Biden White House’ Killed Hunter Laptop Story in 2020

“Wait. I thought the GOP said they were just tourists? Show their faces or admit they weren’t orderly tourists,” wrote former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).

Watch the videos of Johnson above or at this link.


Continue Reading


Florida GOP Chair Could Face ‘Censure or Discipline’ After Rape Allegation and Three-Way Sex Claim



Christian Ziegler, the Donald Trump-endorsed Florida Republican Party chair who is reportedly under criminal investigation for alleged rape, and had a consensual three-way sexual relationship with his wife and the woman who is now accusing him, could face some form of discipline from party leadership if he does not resign.

Florida Republican Party Vice Chair Evan Power is calling for a special meeting to consider Ziegler’s future, according to Florida Politics.

Ziegler, who is opposed to the special meeting which could decide his fate with the party, wants to wait until the board’s scheduled meeting in February to discuss the allegations against him. He has refused to resign.

“In an act of respect for the Chairman, this evening, I phoned him to request he call an executive board meeting,” Power wrote in an email to board members. “He declined and said the matters could be taken up in February. It is the opinion of the many members that it is not an acceptable timetable.”

READ MORE: ‘Given My Experience’: Gaetz Waiting to ‘Render Judgment’ on Florida GOP Chair Accused of Rape

“Because of my role as Vice Chairman, I now offer the following call for a Special Meeting with an option for each of you to sign on to,” Power added. “I hope that we are able to move the Party forward in a positive manner as the 2024 elections are the most important elections we face in my lifetime. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reply to this email or give me a call or text.”

Ziegler’s wife Bridget Ziegler is an an elected school board member and a co-founder of the anti-LGBTQ Moms for Liberty, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-government extremist group. She told police “that she and her husband had previously engaged in a ‘sexual encounter’ with the woman. The following day, [Christian] Ziegler was interviewed by police with his attorney present. He told them the encounter with the woman was consensual and said he’d taken a video of it,” according to the Florida Center for Government Accountability’s Trident news site.

Power has “as laid out an agenda for a meeting” that “includes potential censure or discipline for Ziegler following party rules. That includes determining if Ziegler must be deemed unfit for office and whether his actions have hurt the ‘good name of the RPOF,'” Florida Politics adds. He also wants the board to discuss suspending Ziegler’s responsibilities, pay, and holding a no-confidence vote.

READ MORE: ‘Authoritarianism’: Florida Says Its Public Schools Exist to ‘Convey Government’s Message’

Continue Reading


‘He Can Warp Time or Something’: Morning Joe Mocks GOP’s Biden Impeachment Probe After Latest Flop



MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski needled House Republicans for overhyping their latest revelation in the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden.

House Oversight chairman James Comer (R-KY) obtained bank records showing Hunter Biden’s law firm had made monthly payments to his father in late 2018, but those three checks were reimbursement for a pickup truck the elder Biden had purchased and allowed him to use.

“What kind of car was it?” Scarborough asked. “It could have been a hot rod Lincoln. I don’t know, do you ride around in it in Tennessee, go through the Smoky Mountains? More smoking guns.”

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also on Monday accused Biden of suppressing media coverage of his son’s laptop ahead of the 2020 presidential election, which would have been before he was president, and the “Morning Joe” co-hosts called out the bad-faith coverage by conservative media of her outlandish allegations.

“Obsessed,” Brzezinski said.

“The fact that Joe Biden was so corrupt, so evil, so powerful that he could suppress this information, his White House could suppress this information, even when he was not in the White House,” Scarborough said sarcastically. “It means he has, like, some X-Men/Avengers, I think it’s more X-Men. He has these X-Men powers where he can warp time or something. Maybe it is more, like, an Avengers multiverse thing – he’s not really present, but he is. I don’t think Ronna knows that. I’m wondering why she said the Biden White House did it when Biden wasn’t in the White House, and nobody corrected her.”

Watch the video below or at this link.


Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.