MURMANSK, Russia — Four Dutch filmmakers, including an elected Dutch city official, were arrested and briefly detained in this northern Russian city Sunday on charges of “spreading homosexual propaganda” under the country’s new anti-gay laws.
Russian media reported that the four were released Monday after the local magistrate’s court cancelled their appearance without explanation after local authorities failed to bring the case forward.
A police source told Russian-language news site Lenta.ru, that the men were arrested near a “Youth Human Rights Camp,” as they were filming a documentary about the city of Mumansk, including the local LGBT community.
Among the young people whom they interviewed about their views was a gay 17-year-old gay teenager. The source confirmed that the filmmakers’ video recordings were seized as evidence.
Among those arrested was Kris van der Veen, a city councillor for the left-wing green party GroenLinks in Groningen, the Netherlands. Van der Veen is also chairman of the foundation LGBT Groningen, which advocates for LGBT rights in the Netherlands and abroad.
According to LGBT activists, the four men are the first foreigners to be arrested in Russia under the new anti-gay laws.
According to a Tweet from Van der Veen, the Royal Dutch Embassy in Moscow is assisting the four as they prepare to leave Russia, although they could still face a future prosecution over the incident.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law last month, making it a criminal act to discuss homosexuality to minors.