November 30, 2017 at 11:09 am PST | by Michael K. Lavers
Prominent activist heckles Russian ambassador over Chechnya
Chechnya, Michael Petrelis, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Petrelis protests Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Bill Wilson)

A prominent activist on Wednesday heckled Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. over the anti-LGBT crackdown in Chechnya.

A video posted to Michael Petrelis’ Facebook page shows him shouting “Stop killing gay Chechens” at Anatoly Antonov as he was delivering a speech at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Petrelis wrote on his Facebook page that his “disruption lasted approximately 90 seconds.” The video shows several members of the audience applauding as security personnel escorted Petrelis from the ballroom in which Antonov was speaking.

The World Affairs Council — a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that describes itself as a “nonpartisan forum for the public to join leading foreign policy and international relations experts to discuss and debate global issues” — hosted Antonov.

“When I heard that an enemy of the gay global community was going to step foot in the gay mecca of San Francisco tonight at the Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill, I vowed that he would not feel welcome here,” wrote Petrelis on Facebook.

Authorities in Chechnya — a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus — have arrested more than 100 men because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation since the beginning of the year. The ongoing crackdown, which has reportedly spread to include lesbian and transgender Chechens, has sparked outrage around the world.

The Kremlin has claimed it has launched an investigation into the allegations, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to downplay or even dismiss these reports. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a close Putin ally, over the summer described the allegations as “nonsense” and claimed during an interview with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that “we don’t have any gays” in his republic.

Putin appointed Antonov as Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. in August.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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