Two popular nightclubs in St. Petersburg, Russia are facing closure after they agreed to host a gay and lesbian film festival on their premises. The Place and Sochi, two favorite clubs for students, the art crowd and expats, suddenly were confronted with a surprise fire inspection that resulted in having the establishments closed down for code violations. Irina Sergeyeva, one of the organizers of the festival, said; “We are indignant, upset and distressed. We have had the festival opening scheduled for tonight at two venues, and it became known earlier today that by the order of the fire inspectors, who paid visits to both clubs yesterday, the clubs are closed, so the film festival will not be held at these venues.” The festival originally was to be held at Pik film center, but that organization decided they did not wish to take part in the film presentations.
This was the first time a gay and lesbian film festival has been held in public. As long as they were in private settings, the city government apparently didn’t care, but the prospect that anyone could see the films appeared to frighten these government leaders.
Such is life in Putin Russia, the home of free thought. It is free and open as long as one agrees with Prime Minister Putin.