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Russia's Harassment of American Visitors

Russia's recent treatment of Americans should make anyone considering visiting that country give the idea a second thought.

Shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Moscow to discuss Syria, Russia expelled visiting NBCUniversal executive Jeff Shell, saying he was on a blacklist assembled in retaliation against U.S. sanctions targeting those responsible for Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Perhaps more troubling, Russia also recently harassed and kicked out a visiting minister, Jim Mulcahy of the Metropolitan Community Church, an institution founded nearly half a century ago for gay men and lesbians who feel excluded from traditional Christian churches. 

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While visiting a gay community center in the city of Samara in his capacity as MCC's program officer for Eastern Europe, Mulcahy was suddenly accosted by police, who arrested, interrogated, and detained him for eight hours without access to a lawyer. Eventually he was sentenced to a small fine and ordered out of the country. 

Under Vladimir Putin's regime, same-sex marriage is banned in Russia and hostility toward LGBTQ citizens is official policy. Gays report being harassed by government officials as well as in everyday situations, and the media has no qualms about vilifying homosexuality.

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