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Saint Petersburg's Side By Side LGBT Festival Wins Appeal In City Court

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 9, 2013 at 11:29AM

Finally, some good news regarding the LGBT rights situation in Russia: Side By Side -- the LGBT film festival in St. Petersburg that Indiewire profiled this past summer -- has won its final appeal on a devastating charge it had been fighting for months. The City Court of St. Petersburg overturned two previous court decisions which had found the organization in violation of the ‘foreign agents’ law. The fine of 400,000 rubles (9,000 Euros) has been annulled as a result.
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The scene at the Side By Side Film Festival
Side By Side The scene at the Side By Side Film Festival

Finally, some good news regarding the LGBT rights situation in Russia: Side By Side -- the LGBT film festival in St. Petersburg that Indiewire profiled this past summer -- has won its final appeal on a devastating charge it had been fighting for months. The City Court of St. Petersburg overturned two previous court decisions which had found the organization in violation of the ‘foreign agents’ law. The fine of 400,000 rubles (9,000 Euros) has been annulled as a result.

Citing the reason for the decision, Mikhail Pavlyuchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Saint Petersburg City Court, stated: "The Magistrates Court had incorrectly applied the procedural provisions of the Administrative Code, and in the case of the District Court the Judge overlooked these significant violations of procedural requirements."

Side By Side and its organizer Manny de Guerre were pleased with the decision, releasing the following statement:

“We are pleased with the decision and finally justice has been done! We are grateful to our lawyers, Dmitry Bartenev and Sergey Golubok, who displayed a high level of professionalism throughout the case, to all the individuals and organizations who rendered help and support during these difficult times and to those who made generous donations in order to pay the fine. At present we are requesting the return of the funds paid to the authorities and additionally we will be suing for damages incurred by the organization. We hope that other NGOs also being prosecuted under this law will also win, restoring justice to the court system in Russia.”

Since 2007, Side By Side (or Bok o Bok in Russian) has been working against all odds to bring LGBT cinema, education and community to Russians. Back in June, Side By Side was faced with new challenges, including the law concerning NGOs and their status of being a ‘foreign agent.' In relation to this piece of legislation, Side by Side has been prosecuted under a  law concerning NGOs and their status of being a ‘foreign agent' and was found guilty -- both as an organization and de Guerre, its director.

Notably, the case against de Guerre is still pending and the appeal against the guilty verdict, incurring a fine of 300,000 rubles (7,000 Euros) is expected to be heard within the next month.

This article is related to: LGBT, Film Festival, Russia