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Russian bloggers walk hand-in-hand to gauge attitudes toward gays; met with threats, violence

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MOSCOW — Two Russian bloggers say they faced threats and violence when they walked through Moscow streets holding hands to gauge attitudes toward gays.

The men, who are straight and run a popular video blog, say they decided to use a hidden camera to record reactions in an "experiment" after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognizing same-sex marriage.

"We decided to check why people can walk holding hands over there without any problem, and what if we conduct such an experiment in Russia," said Yevgeny Babenko.

PHOTO: Video bloggers Artyom Frantsuzov, left, and Yevgeny Babenko, speak during an interview with the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Frantsuzov and Babenko, neither of whom are gay, made a video that depicted them as a couple, filmed by a hidden camera in public places, as a 'social experiment' to demonstrate how Russians react to homosexuality in public. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Video bloggers Artyom Frantsuzov, left, and Yevgeny Babenko, speak during an interview with the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Frantsuzov and Babenko, neither of whom are gay, made a video that depicted them as a couple, filmed by a hidden camera in public places, as a 'social experiment' to demonstrate how Russians react to homosexuality in public. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The two men walked hand-in-hand around Moscow for about an hour, encountering verbal insults and outright violence.

On Red Square, the video showed two men shouting an anti-gay slur at them. Elsewhere in central Moscow, one man tried to push them off the pavement.

The two men said they were shocked to discover the outright hostility on the streets of the Russian capital.

"This walk lasted just one hour," Artyom Frantsuzov said. "If a young couple walks like this every day, there will be consequences."

Gays face widespread discrimination in Russia, which passed a law in 2013 imposing fines for spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. The Russian government says the law aims to protect children but does not infringe of the rights of gays.

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PHOTO: Video bloggers Artyom Frantsuzov, second left, and Yevgeny Babenko, left, prepare for an interview with the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Frantsuzov and Babenko, neither of whom are gay, made a video that depicted them as a couple, filmed by a hidden camera in public places, as a 'social experiment' to demonstrate how Russians react to homosexuality in public. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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