Teachers in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg have been instructed to monitor their students’ social media profiles for the presence of “LGBT symbols,” the LGBT Network rights group said.
Any such symbols would be considered violations of Russia’s 2013 law that bans the display of “gay propaganda” toward minors.
This spring, teachers of grades 5-11 in St. Petersburg’s Nevsky District were instructed to comb through their students’ social media pages and submit detailed reports on students who post “LGBT symbols” to the police, the LGBT Network said this week, citing screenshots of messages it obtained.
District administrators confirmed the LGBT Network’s report, noting that the monitoring was part of an effort to protect children’s interests within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
LGBT Network spokeswoman Svetlana Zakharova called it “unacceptable” to equate “a repost of a rainbow flag” to an offense punishable by law.
The social-media screenings are at least the second instance of Russian teachers monitoring their students’ online presences for violations of the “gay propaganda” law. In September 2019, the Ural State University of Economics (USUE) in Russia’s fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg confirmed that it monitors its students’ social media pages for potential violations of the law and to evaluate their “moral character.”
The news comes as Cossack units patrol the streets of Yekaterinburg in an attempt to detain participants of the city’s ongoing Ural Pride Week.
St. Petersburg Man Jailed for Rare Mammal Skull Theft
A St. Petersburg man has been detained and charged for stealing 50 rare animal skulls from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Interfax reported Friday, citing an anonymous source.
The Russian Academy of Sciences’ Zoological Institute in St. Petersburg said Thursday that skulls of clouded leopards, orangutans, sloths and other mammal skulls of “high historical, scientific and commercial value” had gone missing from its laboratory.
The 50-year-old unnamed carpenter who worked at the Zoological Institute is accused of stealing 3.5 million rubles ($471,800) worth of skulls between August 2020 and January 2021.
Law enforcement found 28 of the skulls in the man’s apartment and said he sold the rest to a 10th-grade student. St. Petersburg police reportedly questioned the high school student in front of his mother.
According to Interfax, the man has been criminally charged with large-scale theft. He had previously been convicted of malicious hooliganism and traffic rule violations causing grievous bodily harm.
It’s still unclear why he stole the skulls — or how a 10th-grader would have the money to buy them. But not all mysteries can be solved.