7 Things You Need to Know About Russia and the 2014 Olympics

Russia’s anti-LGBT crackdown and the IOC’s failure to act in any meaningful way over Russia’s holding the Winter Olympics in 2014 has generated a lot of press this past week. Here are seven stories to get you caught up with the latest goings on.

1. Russia Interior Minister Confirms: Athletes Will be Subject to the Anti-Gay Propaganda Law

Russia’s interior minister, who in broad terms oversees the country’s police force, has reportedly confirmed that the anti-gay propaganda law will be in force during the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games and that athletes will not be exempt from the law.

“The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully,” an Interior Ministry statement issued on Monday is reported as saying.

This is contrary to the International Olympic Committee’s previous claims that they had been assured competitors, officials, journalists and spectators would not be affected by the law. It will also serve to increase pressure on the IOC to fully engage on this issue. So far, the IOC has only raised “concerns” and sort “clarification” on the law.

2. The IOC Will Punish Athletes Who Make a Political Statement

Seeing that a Sochi 2014 boycott seems unlikely, and that moving the games appears untenable because the IOC has so far refused to even consider the idea, you might have thought the IOC would allow athletes a measure of freedom to take a stand against Russia’s appalling human rights situation and show solidarity with Russia’s LGBT and minority populations. You would be wrong.

Gay Star News exclusive quotes an IOC spokesperson as saying:

“…the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration. This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary. In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done.”

3. Meanwhile, Russian State Controlled TV Anchor Says Gay Hearts Should Be Burned

Dmitri Kisilev, the anchor of the state controlled leading news show in Russia, Vesiti, offered these chilling remarks while commenting on Russia’s propaganda law:

I think that just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life.

His comments were met with resounding applause, but you would expect nothing less from the propaganda media arm of the Putin administration.

4. Demonstrations Against Russia’s Olympic Hosting Status Begin

Hundreds of people protested in London, England, on Saturday to condemn Russia’s anti-gay violence and the IOC’s lack of interest in engaging on this issue.

Celebrated writer Stephen Fry and world recognized human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell were among those who attended.

During the demonstration Stephen Fry, recognizing that a Sochi 2014 boycott was now unlikely, encouraged athletes to show solidarity with Russia’s LGBT citizens by making a gesture as they accept their medals. Others have mused that participants and spectators might hold hands.

Antwerp also saw a large scale same-sex kiss-in protest with hundreds of activists kissing outside the Belgian city’s Russian consulate to demonstrate against Russia’s anti-gay crackdown.

More protests are planned as the February games near.

5. Hate Attacks are on the Increase in Russia

Commentators have strenuously argued that the federal propaganda law should not be the sole focus of the Sochi 2014 narrative as Russia’s backward slide toward persecuting its LGBT community started long before it was signed into law. What has been clear, though, is that the ban has acted as a green flag for anti-gay forces in Russia to step up their violence.

Indeed, a spokesperson for the international LGBT group the Kaleidoscope Trust told Pink News at Saturday’s London demonstration that: “Certainly our feeling and the feeling of our [Russian] partners seems to be that it’s getting worse in the sense these laws add to a climate of fear and also work to justify a range of abuses against LGBT people. Our partners in Russia are recording an increase level of violence: both spontaneous violence but also quite disturbingly premeditated and arranged violence.”

6. German Officials Condemn Russian Treatment of Gay People

While several leaders have called out Russia’s anti-gay persecution, including President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, Germany’s Development Minister Dirk Niebel has perhaps made the most forceful of comments when he told broadcaster N24 on Monday:

“We must make clear when in contact with Russian politicians that this collapse in fundamental democratic values is not acceptable, and that Russia is moving towards becoming a flawless dictatorship.”

7. NBC Issues Memo to LGBT Employees Traveling for Olympics

NBC, which will be broadcasting the Sochi 2014 Olympics, issued a memo to employees on Friday reassuring them that NBC will take steps to ensure their safety if they are attending the Winter Olympics.

NBC Universal’s Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Craig Robinson is quoted as saying that Russia’s propaganda law is “deeply troubling and diametrically opposed to everything that the Olympics symbolized.”

Exactly what these steps might entail remains to be seen.


So there you have it. The Russia Sochi 2014 controversy continues, as does the IOC’s virtual silence. You don’t need to wait for the IOC to take action, however.

Sochi 2014 sponsors have among them a number of companies that rely heavily on U.S. and European consumers. These sponsors include:

Coca-Cola, Atos, Dow, GEM, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, and Visa.

These companies have power to affect change by standing up for Russia’s LGBT community. Urge them to do so: click here to sign the petition!

Image credit: Valya V.

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

some of the comments here are disheartening. i hope thousands boycott watching/attending this time

Julia Troitskaia
Julia Troitskaia2 years ago

In Russia not only gay men do not like. In Russia and other nations do not like. All "other" do not like.

Julia Troitskaia
Julia Troitskaia2 years ago

Russia with the subject of gays in the whole world was dishonored.

Ashley D.
Ashley D.2 years ago

Further to my last: check out the LGBT's aggressive behaviour in the UK before condemning Russia, as bad as her human rights situation is. In case you're wondering I would NOT condone any violent action towards homosexuals.

Ashley D.
Ashley D.2 years ago

Respectfully: check the sometimes aggressive propaganda that the LGBT perpetuates in the UK,eg attacking a van that was used to promote traditional marriage and the rights of children to a mum & dad.

Jack Stroud
Jack Stroud2 years ago

The way I see it the Russians are saying to the LGBTs to stay in the closet when you go to Russia.. no need to tell everybody you are a gay; no need to propagandize your sexually confused gender orientation to anyone and most importantly to minors.. and stay contained in your closet..
that's what's the Russian law is about.. and it makes lots of sense: -"you can be gay but I don't want to know about it. so stay in your closet"- -that's what they say..

GGma Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D.2 years ago

Signed on August 9, 2013. Don't kid yourselves - the IOC is very aware of everything going on and all the possible consequences. They just don't think Putin will allow any Olympic athlete(s) to come to harm...Right. Olympic Figure Skater Johnny Weir says he's going and will not be in the closet...I've never seen him in the closet - well, maybe a room-sized closet.
I send prayers with him because this is going to get worse befoe it ever (?) gets better.

The IOC should make better ecurity arrangements because blood will spill.

Freespirit R.
Theresa R.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing. the games should be relocated.

Jean Anne Lewis
Jean Anne Lewis2 years ago

Closed-Minded People, Need To Keep Their Mouths Closed!

Jade N.
Jade N.2 years ago

this is terrible thanks