Johannesburg - A lawyer wants a travel warning to be issued for Russia’s 2014 Olympics after a young man, believed to be a South African student, was lured by “neo-Nazi skinheads” and humiliated on video.
But Pretoria diplomatic sources said on Thursday morning that the video needed to be probed before the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) would act.
The video, which was posted on BuzzFeed on Wednesday, had had almost 51 000 views by Thursday morning.
Buzzfeed is described as a forum which combines a technology platform for detecting viral content with an editorial selection process to provide a snapshot of “the viral web in realtime”.
The footage was posted under the headline “Russian Anti-LGBT Activists Humiliate South African Student” along with a graphic content warning.
The footage depicts a man identified as a South African student named David Smith.
The Star has seen legal papers written by Pretoria lawyers Coenraad Kukkuk Attorneys to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office, Dirco Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the Russian ambassador to South Africa, Mikhail Ivanovich Petrakov.
This letter slams the “attack by racist and anti-homosexual thugs in the city of Belgorod on a black South African student” and says Smith was expelled from Belgorod university after he complained.
Belgorod is 670km south of Moscow near Russia’s border with Ukraine. “We demand an investigation as these perpetrators can easily be identified, as well as an explanation by the Russian authorities to the South African people,” the letter stated.
In the video, the thugs claim to have lured Smith to their premises by pretending to be a 15-year-old boy, which Kukkuk said was merely an excuse to target gay men.
“This thing of paedophilia, that comes from the thugs and that is the excuse they use to justify their actions. They’re neo-Nazi skinheads, the paedophile thing is just a ruse. It’s a thinly veiled smokescreen for homophobic attacks,” said Kukkuk.
Kukkuk said he knew nothing more about Smith as all his information came only from the video and online reports about it but that he had researched the thugs.
In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a prohibition against promoting gay relationships to minors, and another to ban same-sex couples from adopting Russian children.
“It (the law) gives a licence to all these criminal gangs and thugs to have carte blanche to do what they want,” Kukkuk said.
Kukkuk, who is also on the board of Mr Gay World International, said the video was not only homophobic but racist as well.
“I got a reply (via e-mail) from the Russian ambassador that was just eight question marks,” he said.
The 33-minute video shows several men allegedly part of the Okkupaj Pedofilyaj (Occupy Paedophilia) gang who - according to the videos - lure victims to their flat by pretending to be boys. The gang then films the alleged paedophiles being humiliated and posts them online.
In Smith’s video, he has his hair shaved down the middle, has a watermelon shoved into his face and is forced to simulate oral sex with a beer bottle.
“We are asking the minister to issue a travel warning to all South Africans of travel to the Russian Federation and to boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics,” says the letter.
It also calls for the government to boycott the Olympics.
However, Dirco poured cold water on the issue on Thursday morning as they said they had not yet received the letter from Kukkuk and that they would need to investigate first. “Once we’ve received the letter, we will obviously look at the contents and take it forward,” said Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela.