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Russian political party slams ad depicting Russian poet kissing Kazakh composer

28 august 2014, 02:14
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©Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan
©Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan

The Almaty-based advertising agency that produced a scandalous poster depicting Kazakh composer Kurmangazy and Russian poet Pushkin kissing has drawn a wave of discontent upon itself. The wave started in Kazakhstan and reached Russia. Now, a branch of Rodina (Motherland) political party has officially slammed the poster.

The St. Petersburg branch of the Russian party voiced its indignation with the smooch print of two cultural heavyweights and expressed solidarity with Kazakhstanis who intend to demand legal repercussions for the heads of the ads agency.

The resonance may have been an anticipated one, but the wording still surprises:

"St. Petersburg branch of Rodina party strongly condemns aggressive LGBT propaganda, which aims to discriminate against people of traditional sexual orientation and to discredit the historical heritage of the Russian nation as well as that of the fraternal and close-in-spirit Kazakh nation, and fully supports the lawsuits that have been filed by the citizens of Kazakhstan against the authors of this image.

"In light of Russia's concern over LGBT propaganda and rampant impunity of the immoral perverts, we hope that the situation is different in Kazakhstan and those responsible for the desecration of the memory of famous Russian and Kazakh poets will be punished," the party declared.

It is probably worth noting to the party that Kurmangazy was not a poet, but a composer of the Kazakh nation they call "fraternal". But it looks like nothing else matters to the Russian bull when it sees the 'gay propaganda' red flag.

In addition, there have been no reports of any Kazakhstanis filing law suits so far. Although many in Kazakhstan said they would and some even went as far as filing reports to the local police. 

A group of social activists, including bloggers, and a descendant of Kurmangazy, filed a complaint to the Department of Internal Affairs of Almaty, in which they demanded administrative responsibility for the advertising agency Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan that created the controversial poster.

The image, which looks very much like the famous Fraternal Kiss on the Berlin Wall, was created for the Red Jolbors Fest, a Central Asian ads festival. The poster advertises a club named "Studio 69" located in Almaty at the crossing of Kurmangazy and Pushkin street - this explains the choice of characters. It was awarded the third place in “Outdoors Advertising” category of the festival but the joy of the ads agency did not last long.

According to the agency, the contest was the sole purpose of the image and it was not meant to be used as outdoor advertisement or for any other public display whatsoever. It is unclear how the poster ended up on the Internet or why, since the agency claims it never uploaded it.

After the turmoil began the agency released an official apology and tried to explain that is was an art, not an attempt to insult anyone's feelings. They even officially promised that the image would never be released in print or placed in paid media. However, the explanations have gone unheard and the apology remained unaccepted.

The owners of "Studio 69" also released an official statement saying that they bore no responsibility for the scandalous poster, since they did not order it from the ads agency.

Statements or not, it is what it is now - the poster has gained public attention and condemnation across the entire gay intolerant post-Soviet space. 

Writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina 


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