This is not the first time Narodny Sobor has raged against affronts to the Orthodox Church. According to Interfax Religion, in 2007 the group urged Moscow's public prosecutor to try scientist Vitaly Ginzburg for allegedly "inciting religious enmity." In an interview with Vesti Obrazovaniya, Ginzburg frowned upon teaching religion in schools, much to Narodny Sobor's outrage.
Additionally, Narodny Sobor filed a complaint against the Forbidden Art exhibition in Moscow's Sakharov Museum, according to BBC News. Oleg Kassin called the exhibit, which contained controversial images of Jesus Christ, "provocation" and "anti-Christian." According to the Christian Science Monitor, Alexander Lapin, head of Narodny Sobor's Moscow branch, rejoiced when he heard the court's decision and said the matter was about "incitement of religious hatred."
Narodny Sobor's nationalist political agenda has set its sights on many issues in Russia, but the LGBTQ community remains one of its targets. In a 2011 video of the Narodny Sobor Moscow conference, Alexander Lapin lambasted "perverts" alongside "minorities" and "self-proclaimed intellectual leaders" for allegedly holding sway in Russia. At the 1:24 mark of a Narodny Sobor video, Lapin had this to say. (See www[dot]youtube[dot]com/watch?v=kqsYGWh5fL4)
"They try to propagate consumerist liberalism, atomization, and dissipation of our nation, so that every man should be for himself and so that all sorts of minorities, perverts, sects, crooks, and self-proclaimed intellectual leaders could rule the show. Whereas we put forward the idea of Russian spiritual socialism standing for the public interests ... In my view, our main task is to save the Russian spirit from blight and blurring."Narodny Sobor's antics are chilling amidst the wave of homophobia sweeping Russia right now, such as anti-gay legislation in cities such as St. Petersburg. For instance, Human Rights Watch recently observed that a violent attack on a Moscow gay club last week occurred shortly after Narodny Sobor called for a ban on homosexual "propaganda" in Moscow. While the organization denies any illegal wrongdoing, the fact remains that the group is contributing to a political atmosphere of homophobia in Russia, to the detriment of Russian LGBTQ persons.
The antics of Russian Religious Rights groups such as Narodny Sobor deserve international attention. Like its American analogs, Narodny Sobor uses the language of alleged religious persecution, sexual "perversion," and nationalism -- parallels that observers should explore in greater depth. Its attempts to silence the voices of the LGBTQ community, artists, and critics are disturbing and well-deserving of outcry.