Two gay Russians are standing for election to the country’s Parliament, in a challenge to the country’s ruling party.

Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party continues to hold an iron grip on the country politically, holding 141 of the 170 seats in the upper house, alongside a majority in the Duma.

However, ahead of this month’s Duma elections, set to go ahead of 18 September, two unlikely candidates have put themselves forward.

Bulat Barantayev, of the pro-Europe People’s Freedom Party (Parnas), is standing as an anti-corruption candidate in the Novosibirsk constituency.

Mr Barantayev, who has called for Putin to be impeached and corruption purged from government, is taking a bold stand as an openly gay candidate.

It might be the first time an openly gay person has run for election.

He told Radio Free Europe: “For a long time now, I have used all opportunities to cultivate an audience for accepting LGBT people.

“By my example, I show that gays in Russia can create their own successful businesses, can meet with people, can have children, and can even run for the State Duma.”

He is not alone, with another out candidate for Parnas, Aleksei Korolyov, standing in Krasnodar.

Neither have particularly high chances of being elected.

Mr Korolyov said: “The LGBT community now is in a desperate situation, and we need allies.

“It is good that we have been able to form an alliance with Parnas.

“The LGBT community gets new resources to defend itself and the party should get some new voters…. I decided to run because the ruling party has adopted an extreme homophobic position.

“The authorities are facilitating a homophobic discourse in society that is inciting hate crimes.”

The pair are open about their sexuality despite the risk of vigilante attacks, or harassment from authorities under the ‘gay propaganda’ law that Putin signed in 2013.