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Shirtless Men at Russian Award Show Spark 'Gay Propaganda' Investigation

Rappers Spark Investigation at Russian Music Awards Show

Russian rappers Dava and Filipp Kirkorov caused quite a stir at the Muz-TV Awards show recently when they arrived with an entourage of shirtless hunky men in what looked very much like a wedding ceremony, and now state authorities are investigating to see if the event violated the country’s strict anti-gay morality laws. According to a report in the Russian-language RIA Novosti, the Roskomnadzor (short for the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information, Technology and Mass Media) has launched an investigation into both the event and the television station that broadcast it.

“Roskomnadzor will analyze the recordings of the Muz-TV channel broadcasting the award for violations of the current legislation of the Russian Federation, including in the field of protecting children from information harmful to their health and development,” the agency told RIA Novosti in a statement. “In case of violations, Roskomnadzor will take appropriate response measures."

Dava and Kirkorov arrived at the event in a classic white convertible, dressed in matching white and black tuxedos. They were surrounded by a gaggle of topless men, each carrying a single red rose, while the hood of the car was covered with two large floral bouquets. The spectacle was seen by many as representative of a wedding between two men, something that is strictly outlawed in the country.

The pair were not the only ones to cause controversy at the awards ceremony. Russian TikTok influencer Danya Milokhin arrived wearing a half-dress, half-tuxedo.

While their behavior might seem tame by American standards, the artists and show could be subject to serious legal action in Russia. President Vladimir Putin formally enacted a series of anti-LGBTQ+ amendments banning marriage equality and transgender adoptions, and centering "a belief in God" as a core value of the country. A national referendum on Putin’s package of homophobic laws and amendments passed with over 77 percent support from voters last year.

The country also has a law banning what is termed as "gay propaganda," and is meant to shield children from being exposed to LGBTQ+ issues and information. Last year teachers in St. Petersburg were encouraged to search the social media profiles of their students (grades 5 through 11) to determine if there was any LGBTQ+ symbols or content.

Kirkorov, who is married and has a child, is no stranger to controversy, having cultivated a bad boy misogynistic image as part of his brand over the years. In 2004 he was found guilty of charges relating to telling a female reporter he was "tired of her pink blouse, her tits, and her microphone" before his bodyguards allegedly removed her from the press conference and stole her tape recorder.

If found guilty of promoting LGBTQ+ relations to children, individuals can be fined up to 200,000 rubles ($2,768 USD). Organizations can be fined up to 1 million rubles ($13840) along with being banned from operation for up to 90 days.

RELATED | Ghastly, Homophobic Ad Is Latest In Russian Campaign Against Gays

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