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Homophobic Russia Actor Jumps Ship After Controversial Comments

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin during a shoot for a Yevroset advertisement. He has since resigned from the company as Creative Director.
    Photo: Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

Sitcom star Ivan Okhlobystin announced Tuesday that he is leaving his position as creative director of cell phone retailer Yevroset after causing uproar by saying that gay people should be burned alive in ovens.

Okhlobystin wrote on his Twitter account that he was leaving his post due to "the incessant threats, provocations and insults from sodomites concerning my friends, partners and family."

Using TwitLonger, a platform for Twitter messages that exceed the site's character limit, the actor ended his message by saying "Sodom and Gomorrah should be annihilated!"

He did not have to wait long to find a new job, however, as the owner of clothing retailer Baon said later Tuesday that Okhlobystin would be his company's creative director, Prime news agency reported.

The campaign pressuring Yevroset to remove Okhlobystin, famous for his role in the Russian medical sitcom "Interny," from his duties first began in December after the actor told fans in Novosibirsk that gay people should all be put "alive in an oven...It's a living danger to my children." The sitcom star, who was an Orthodox priest before being suspended from the Church in 2010, also told his Siberian audience about "gay fascism" and that gay people should be stripped of their right to vote.

Yevroset CEO Alexander Malis, who earlier said that he would not fire Okhlobystin, but that the actor would not make any such remarks in the future, wrote on the company's Facebook page that the actor had left the company "in order to engage in public activities." The statement continued by saying that Yevroset "understands and respects" the actor's position and that he had received a special bonus for his work.

Malis and Yevroset came under additional pressure last week when gay rights groups from Russia, Europe and the U.S. wrote a letter to openly gay Apple CEO Tim Cook, asking him to reconsider his company's business relationship with the Russian retailer in light of its ties to the homophobic actor.

Cook did not publicly respond to the gay activists, but Okhlobystin grabbed headlines again last week when he wrote a letter of his own to President Vladimir Putin, asking for the return of a Soviet-era law that criminalized homosexual relations.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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