Earlier this month, a gay Russian couple who wed in Denmark had their marriage recognized at home, thanks to a loophole in the law regulating the recognition of foreign marriages.

But after the news broke, authorities declared their passports invalid and opened an administrative case against them for “intentionally defacing an official document.” Now Pavel Stotsko and Yevgeny Voitsekhovsky have fled Russia for fear of further reprisal.

Stotsko and Voitsekhovsky were married in Copenhagen on January 4. When they returned to Moscow, they presented their passports to police for confirmation of the marriage. The newlyweds said it only took five minutes for the registrar to stamp their passports “without superfluous questions and no change in his face.”

At first, the registry office in Moscow claimed the story was false, because state service centers don’t update passports. But on Sunday an Interior Ministry spokeswoman indicated the official who stamped their passports and her immediate supervisor had been fired. That same day, police blocked the entrance to Stotsko’s and Voitsekhovsky’s apartment, preventing the men from leaving or friends from entering.

Electricity and Internet access were also turned off for several hours, according to LGBT-Network, who also claimed the couple was told by police they would not protect them from attacks by vigilante mobs.

On Monday, the two men turned in their passports and were immediately issued replacements. It’s not clear where they have gone.

Meanwhile, Internal Affairs Minister Vitaly Milonov says he is working to amend the Family Code as to which foreign marriages can be recognized in Russia.

“Somewhere in Somalia,” he added, “they will begin to recognize marriages with farm animals.”

In an interview with Oliver Stone last spring, Russian president Vladimir Putin said it was his “duty” to prevent same-sex marriage “to uphold traditional values and family values.”

“Same-sex marriages will not produce any children,” he stated. “God has decided, and we have to care about birth rates in our country. We have to reinforce families.”

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