BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – If gay flight attendant Maxim
Kupreev was going to continue flying the friendly skies with Russian airline
Aeroflot, he had to get hitched — the heterosexual way, Gay Russia reports.
Kupreev was allegedly forced into a union with a former
school friend at the end of last year after he went public with his intention
to form a group within the airline to fight for the rights of gay employees,
according to the Gay Russia website.
It gets more bizarre.
Kupreev ended up marrying Sofia Mikhailova, who — get
this — had to divorce her husband, Grigoriy Andreykin, so she could tie the
knot with the 25-year-old flight attendant.
Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev told Xtra by email
Jan 31 that Kupreev has known his new wife "since the age of 6 as a
schoolmate" and that she "had to divorce her husband in Siberia to
enter into this marriage to help him. He basically faced an ultimatum."
"Aeroflot effectively broke a real marriage and
created a sham one," Alexeyev alleges.
He told Xtra it was "a deal" for the couple.
"She live in far away Siberia and now she can travel to Moscow for very
very cheap by Aeroflot as much as she wants. He got the chance to continue his
work and Aeroflot is happy cause they will not have to answer questions about
the LGBT group anymore," Alexeyev wrote.
"The creation of an LGBT group in Aeroflot was
announced on June 20, 2011," Gay Russia states. Kupreev, the founder of
the group, said it would "fight for the direct inclusion of discrimination
ban on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity into internal
documents of Aeroflot," as well as "for the recognition of same sex
partners of the employees," the report indicates.
A spokesperson for the airline reportedly denied the
existence of the group.
Alexeyev says the group has now been put on ice. In the
meantime, there is a call to boycott Aeroflot.
"We applied for the rally in front of Aeroflot office in downtown Moscow," he says. "We haven't got the answer from the authorities yet. But I expect a denial this week. With high probability they will ban the whole protest. Then we will go and organize without the permit. We already have a terrific plan."