Russian fundamentalists sue US, want Alaska back
Moscow, March 17 : US President Barack Obama must have known that his support of gay marriage would bring him trouble. But of all possible repercussions, a demand to roll back Alaska's 1867 sale to the US was one he was unlikely to have seen coming.
And yet, that was the very claim that an ultraconservative religious group made in a Moscow arbitrage court, citing the need to protect fellow Christians from sin.
Obama's reported plans to legalise same-sex marriage threatens the freedom of religion of Alaska's Orthodox Christians, who "would never accept sin for normal behaviour", according to the non-governmental group Pchyolki ("Bees").
Obama has often spoken in support of LGBT rights, including in his 2012 presidential address.
But though he criticised bans on gay marriage imposed in various US states, he never voiced plans for a federal bill to legalise same-sex marriage.
"We see it as our duty to protect their right to freely practice their religion, which allows no tolerance to sin," the group said in a statement on their website.
The Pchyolki also cited technical violations of the terms of the 1867 deal that saw Russia sell Alaska to the US government for $7.2 million, or two cents per acre.
Payment was made by cheque and not gold coins as specified in the contract, the group said.
The lawsuit, filed in January but not reported by media until this week, was not processed because the Pchyolki failed to include a handful of mandatory papers, including documents to justify their claims, according to Moscow arbitrage court's website.
The group had until last week to provide the required paperwork, but failed to do so for reasons left unspecified.
Among the papers the group failed to file was also a notification to the defendant, the US government, which may account for it not having commented on the lawsuit so far.
The Pchyolki are a relatively obscure group created in 2008 to protect orphans' rights in Russia, which it did by campaigning against sexual education in schools, among other things.
Their biggest claim to fame, until the Alaska lawsuit, was last year's instruction for believers published after punk band Pussy Riot's notorious performance in a Moscow church.
The instruction on protecting places of worship from "blasphemers" advised to distract the offenders by spitting in their faces, ruin their recording equipment - if they have any - with holy water and detain them, with "bloodshed" deemed acceptable as long as it happens outside the church grounds.
The Russian Orthodox Church estimated its flock in Alaska at about 50,000 of the state's total population of 730,000, the BBC said in 2010.