Transgender Russian politician says he has detransitioned

LONDON (Reuters) - A transgender politician from Russia said on Thursday that he had reverted to his gender assigned at birth, in an unusual message amid a crackdown on LGBTQ rights in the country.

Roman Alyoshin, who previously went by the name Yulia Alyoshina and last year ran for governor of a Siberian region, said he had come to the decision during Orthodox Lent after a period of "spiritual anguish".

"I went through old albums of my ancestors, prayed for them, and it helped the idea set in that I'm a guy", Alyoshin wrote on the Telegram messenger app.

"I'm a patriot of my country, that's why I live in Russia. I apologise to all the Russian people!"

Alyoshin, thought to be the first openly transgender political figure in Russia, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on his decision to detransition.

While identifying as a woman, Alyoshin last July abandoned a run for governor of Siberia's Altai region, citing Russian legislation that bans legal and surgical gender changes.

Russia has engaged over the past decade in a widespread crackdown on LGBTQ rights, which President Vladimir Putin portrays as evidence of moral decay in Western countries.

Alyoshin has previously appeared in media photographs wearing dresses and with shoulder-length blonde hair. His profile picture on his Telegram channel now shows him with close-cropped hair and wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

(Reporting and writing by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Bernadette Baum)