This unofficial version of RuPaul’s Drag Race is causing outrage in Russia


russia rupaul's drag race royal cobras drag queen competition youtube
Image: Royal Cobras/YouTube

A Russian social media star’s new unofficial adaptation of RuPaul’s Drag Race has copped backlash from both Russian authorities and LGBTIQ activists.

Nastya Ivleeva is a popular Russian blogger and influences with millions of Instagram, YouTube and TikTok followers.

Last week, she launched Royal Cobras, a Russian drag competition series closely resembling – but not linked to – RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Ivleeva, a heterosexual woman, said the web series will feature 36 Russian drag artists, as well as lip sync challenges and celebrity judges.

She plans to publish seven episodes to her YouTube channel. After the finale, Ivleeva wants to award the “King Cobra” winner a crown and a cash prize.

However Russia’s “gay propaganda” law bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. The Russian government uses the extreme homophobic law to target and oppress queer people.

As a result, the first episode of Royal Cobras opens with a lengthy disclaimer that the show “is not aimed at forming nontraditional sexual attitudes.”

However some Russian authorities didn’t agree, with complaints flying before the show even started last week.

Russia’s communications watchdog and the Prosecutor General’s Office got complaints against “propaganda of nontraditional values” in the show.

Irina Volynets, a children’s rights ombudsman in the Russian Federation, furiously called for the blocking of websites hosting the series.

“[Ivleeva’s videos] broadcast information, including to minors, aimed at promoting non-traditional sexual relations,” she said.

Activists weigh in on Russian copy of RuPaul’s Drag Race

However the Royal Cobras drag competition hasn’t impressed some Russian LGBTIQ activists either.

Some claim the series must whitewash the struggles of Russia’s queer communities and could do more harm than good.

​​“For me, this show has nothing to do with the LGBT agenda in Russia,” activist Nikita Andriyanov told The Moscow Times.

“Because nowhere in Royal Cobras does it say that this show was about LGBT people.”

Andriyanov said the disclaimer at the start of the show “belittles human dignity.”

“The main problem lies in the silence. The feeling that LGBT people have never existed and that all this is ‘just show business’,” he said.

“The only thing this show can do for the community is that drag queens can get their moment of fame and possibly earn more followers on Instagram.”

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