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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, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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