A victim of Occupy Pedophilia
A victim of Occupy Paedophilia (vk.com)

The harassment of gay people in Russia has surged following the approval of a law banning "homosexual propaganda" in June thanks to the activity of organised vigilantes' movements such as Occupy Gerontophilia and Occupy Paedophilia.

The legislation, which prescribes heavy fines for anyone providing information about homosexuality to people under 18, has encouraged bigots to use social media such as VKontakte to lure gay people into a trap and humiliate them on camera - with beatings, torture and abuse.

They claim their purpose is to name, shame and punish suspected paedophiles but activists said it was just an excuse to indulge their homophobia.

Yekaterina, a member of Occupy Paedophilia, told the BBC: "Our priority is uncovering cases of paedophilia. But we're also against the promotion of homosexuality. And if - along the way - we encounter people of non-traditional sexual orientation, we can kill two birds with one stone."

The head of Occupy Paedophilia - which focuses on gay adults, while Gerontophilia focuses on teenagers - is Maxim Martsinkevich, a right-wing ideologue and nationalist who served three years in prison for inciting ethnic hatred.

"After he founded the network it shortly become huge and spread in different cities in Russia," Maria Kozlovskaya, a lawyer who works with Russia's LGBT network told IBTimes UK.

"They created a big group on VKontakte which received 150,000 subscribers where they uploaded thousands of videos showing torture and beating."

Occupy Gerontophilia's page had 170,000 subscribers but was shut down for invading the privacy of minors.

"It's actually clear that their purpose is another [to what they claim]. The fight against paedophilia to protect minors is just a cover-up to terrorise the LGBT community," Kozlovskaya said.

The LGBT network demanded action by the authorities but were fobbed off with the claim that nothing could be done because the social network was a commercial structure. Martsinkevich, who appears bare-chested in his videos and sports a mohawk, was investigated because he featured in a clip in which homosexuals were tortured but the investigation was closed without a reason, according to Kozlovskaya.

Martsinkevich encourages his followers to pour urine over victims' heads to "cure" them of homosexuality. In an interview with Life News he said that he hoped "these broken lives" would be an example to the future generations.

"They shouldn't behave like that," he said.

Most members of Occupy Paedophilia are ultra-nationalists but the group also features non-aligned young people.

"In the movement there are very young Russians having fun beating people," Kozlovskaya said. "A lot of people support Occupy Paedophilia because they use the [believe they are] protecting children against paedophiles. They are afraid gay people are going to do something to their kids so it's okay to torture them.

"A lot of people in Russia think that all gay people are paedophiles," she continued. "Our government makes people think like that. Just like when our President Putin said that a lot of gay people live in Amsterdam and then criticised the paedophile party in the Netherlands. People believed this and associate homosexuality with paedophilia.

"Now there are reports every day of beating and attacks against homosexuals in the streets," said Kozlovskaya.

"They [ultra-nationalists] have received signals from the highest officials in the state - the Duma, the president - that basically you can do whatever you want if it concerns gay people because they are not first-class citizens; they are second-class or even third-class," Nikolai Alekseyev, founder of Gay Pride Russia, told The Atlantic.