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Regional Newspaper Suspected of Breaking 'Gay Propaganda' Law

The state's media watchdog suspects a regional newspaper of violating of the "gay propaganda" law after it published an article about a local teacher who was fired because of his sexual orientation.

Reporter Irina Severtseva, working for the Khabarovsk region's Molodoi Dalnevostochnik newspaper, interviewed geography teacher Alexander Yermoshkin about his dismissal (see related article), his attack by a youth group and involvement in LGBT demonstrations.

The article, titled "History of Gay-ography," was printed on the fourth page of the newspaper in September while the first page had the obligatory 16+ warning, reported Tuesday.

The Federal Mass Media Inspection Service's far eastern branch received a complaint about the article and launched an investigation, which lead to the editor-in-chief of the paper getting a notice that the article propagates homosexual relations. A protocol was compiled based on the investigation findings, though no charges have yet been put forward.

State investigators particularly disliked Yermoshkin's quote, "My very existence is effective proof that homosexuality is normal."

"This statement goes against logic. By offering it to underage readers, the author is misleading them about the normality of homosexuality. According to the author's logic, it would be possible to call normal and even effective the existence of rapists and serial killers," said Galina Yegoshina, a specialist from the watchdog's regional branch.

The newspaper's editor has responded to the investigators with the argument that the article shows the negative sides of being a homosexual and cited constitutional provisions outlawing discrimination.

Molodoi Dalnevostochnik has also given Yermoshkin the chance to oversee an ecology-related column in the paper.

Individuals found guilty of violating the "gay propaganda" law can be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3,039), while legal entities face a maximum penalty of 1 million rubles.

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