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Russia Arrests Gay Bar Owner Amid Ongoing Crackdown

The Orenburg court

The owner of a popular gay bar in the Russian city of Orenburg has been arrested for "extremism", rights groups said Sunday, as authorities crack down on the LGBTQ community.

Police and local nationalists raided the Pose bar in Orenburg earlier this month during a drag show, later arresting its administrator and artistic director in the first criminal case of its kind.

The bar's owner was detained three days ago at a Moscow airport and has now been remanded in custody together with his colleagues until May 18, the OVD-Info rights group said.

Prosecutors accuse the man of conspiring with supporters of the "international LGBT movement", an entity that Russia has labeled "extremist", Orenburg's Central District Court said Sunday.

The bar owner, whom it did not name, and his two employees face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

The Kremlin has ramped up conservative rhetoric since launching its military assault on Ukraine two years ago, casting the conflict as a battleground against the West and its values.

The country's top court labeled the "international LGBT movement" as extremist in November, making anyone who engages in pro-LGBTQ activism or shares LGBTQ symbols liable to criminal prosecution.

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