By Adam Brinklow
Where in the world is Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev? The potential answers to that question are starting to seem pretty creepy. Following a hearing last week in which he was accused of libeling two anti-gay politicians, Alekseev appeared to have an extended social media meltdown. His Facebook and Twitter updates were suddenly filled with angry comments about western “imperialists,” American “pedophiles,” and other language that sounded suspiciously like typical Russian homophobic rhetoric rather than Alekseev’s normal fare.
“USA and Canada are flooded now with fake asylum applications of Russian gays. Most have nothing to so with persecution in Russia. Shame!” read one comment. In another he noted, “I now hate the West not less than Putin. I am denying all interviews to biased western medias.” And furthermore: “Just found out that two of my Facebook friends are fucking with minors and are rumored to be pedophiles. Will now call police to have a check.” Strangest of all, photos appeared of someone who appeared to be Alekseev clad only in his underwear in a graffiti-strewn concrete room.
Today, August 19, Alekseev’s Facebook profile vanished, fueling further speculation about his whereabouts and mental state. Alekseev, an attorney and activist, has become the face of the gay rights movement in Russia during a period of unprecedented controversy. Though long noted for his incendiary personality, this recent binge of antagonism strikes both supporters and critics as markedly strange. Speculation ranges across everything from malicious hacking to kidnapping or detainment by authorities. Blogger Melanie Nathan even speculated that Alekseev may be faking an abduction as a publicity stunt—which seems farfetched, though he has been accused of just that very thing at least once before.
Alekseev’s Twitter account is still active, and indeed has been updating all day. “It feels so great without Facebook account. There were so many debiles there. Will create a new one by invitation only,” reads one recent tweet. Most of the updates are invectives against the “western media,” which the account user (who writes nothing like Alekseev, at this point) insists has not accurately covered LGBT rights issues in Russia: “I don't have any oppression. I am now in Moscow and there is not a single hint on gay oppression here.”
“We know is not Mr Alexeyev,” one follower tweeted to the account. “You make a man dissapear whats [sic] the guarantee for the safety of our athletes?” @n_alexyev replied: “stop bullshitting,” adding “Imposters do not exist for decades...” in another, oddly ambiguous message. The account user simply retweeted 429Magazine’s inquiries about Alekseev’s whereabouts without further comment and then proceeded to link to articles about his alleged disappearance, saying only “LOL” in response.
More updates as they occur—although we’re not entirely sure we want them.
The Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/n_alexeyev