WASHINGTON, D.C. — A gay, Russian human rights activist currently seeking political asylum in the U.S. says he will continue protesting outside the White House, filling his time until he is authorized to work in this country.
Andrew Nasonov fled Russia, where he was living in Charlotte’s sister city, Voronezh, after facing violence from residents and after, he says, he was kidnapped by police.
Andrew shared his story with qnotes early this month, one year after we began in-depth reporting on the violence in Voronezh and elsewhere in Russia.
Nasonov’s protest began on Aug. 24, standing outside the White House fence on Pennsylvania Ave. He and a friend, Artem Gorbunov, held signs reading, “Ask me why in Russia they want to kill me!” and “Ask me how Russian LGBT people live!”
“The main goal of this picket is to inform the residents of the United States about the difficult plight of the LGBT people in Russia and numerous violations of their human rights,” Nasonov wrote on Facebook (translation courtesy Spectrum Human Rights). “That is why I plan on using banners with various slogans and photographs while handing out the leaflets with my story and general information about the lives of the LGBT people in Russia. I believe that it’s very important to talk about it now. While the whole world is closely monitoring the global geopolitical developments, other problems do not disappear, do not become less actual.”
Nasonov added, “I am committed to an indefinite protest. I plan to go to the White House all the time. Perhaps, even every day. At least until I get an official work authorization. This usually happens after 150 days upon the filing an asylum application.”
Nasonov says he was able to speak to a good number of U.S. citizens and foreigners, mostly tourists. He even spoke to one Russian man, who asked how much he was being paid to protest.
Nasonov’s friend and fellow Voronezh activist, Pavel Lebedev, who featured prominently in our reporting last year, has also fled Russia. He is reportedly living in Germany.