Russia's Main Online Support Group For LGBT Teens May Soon Be Blocked

"Obviously, we will soon be closed on the territory of the Russian Federation," Children-404 leader Elena Klimova wrote on the VKontakte social network.

A St. Petersburg court has ruled in favor of blocking Children-404, an online support group for LGBT Russian teens, the group's leader, Elena Klimova, said today on the Russian social network VKontakte.

The news comes shortly after a separate decision that found Klimova guilty of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" was overturned on March 25 on procedural grounds.

The St. Petersburg hearing was scheduled for today, but it appears the court actually considered Klimova's case on the same day she won her appeal in the city of Nizhny Tagil.

"On March 25, it appears, in St. Petersburg they quietly reviewed the complaint about blocking Children-404 on VKontakte [which is based on the Nizhny Tagil verdict that was later overturned] and ruled in favor of it," she wrote today on VKontakte. "Obviously, we will soon be closed on the territory of the Russian Federation."

Children-404, or Deti-404 as it is known in Russian, posts stories from LGBT teens all over Russia and offers messages of support. The group gets its name from the 404 "page not found" online error, playing on the idea that LGBT youth are "not found" in Russia. "We exist" is one of the group's taglines.

The decision is one in a number of legal battles the group has been embroiled in over the past few months.

"Considering the repeated nature of legal proceedings against Deti 404 and Klimova, it is clear that the authorities are using the discriminatory 'gay propaganda' law to harass her and force Deti 404 into silence," Human Rights Watch Russia researcher Tanya Cooper said in a statement issued before the St. Petersburg court's ruling was announced.

"Klimova finds herself, like many other Russian human rights activists, locked in a legal battle with the state rather than devoting all of her energy to helping LGBT children get access to information, justice, and equality."