Russian Sports Minister: We will arrest pro-gay ‘Sochi 2014′ Olympic athletes, guests

In a shocking development, Russia’s Minister of Sports, Vitaly Mutko, said that athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia will be subject to arrest should they exhibit any pro-gay tendencies.

Mutko’s statement directly contradicts assurances given by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week that Russia had promised to exempt Olympic athletes and visitors from the country’s draconian new anti-gay and anti-trans law.

Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. kojoku / Shutterstock.com

Russian state media, RIA Novosti, reporting:

“No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable,” Mutko told R-Sport.

Agence France-Presse has more.  Apparently Minister Mutko is concerned that gay athletes are going to go after Russia’s innocent children:

“The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors,” Mutko told the R-Sport news agency….

“As a sportsman, he should respect the law of a country,” Mutko added. “Come (to Sochi), but don’t get young people involved, don’t make propaganda. This is what we are talking about.”

So the question now is whether the IOC lied when it alleged last week that gay, and gay-friendly, Olympic athletes would be exempt from Russia’s new “anti-propaganda” law, or whether the Russian government is in such turmoil that one hand of government doesn’t know what the other hand of government is even doing.

What we do now is that any IOC assurances for the safety of Olympic athletes and guests are now meaningless.

Either way, this does not bode well for the safety of US, and international, Olympic athletes and guests planning to attending the Sochi games in 2014.

Some gay athletes have already said that they would sport rainbow pins during the competition, which means, per Russia’s Mutko, that they will be arrested.

Russia’s new law bans anything perceived as pro-gay, from heterosexuals or gays.  Those things made illegal under the legislation include pro-gay speech, same-sex couples holding hands, and the wearing of any kind of rainbow design, or anything else, that suggests support for gay and trans people.  Last year, someone was even arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders under a local version of the national law.

What’s worse, the climate of hate promulgated by the Russian legislature and President Putin has led to increased violence against gay and trans people, including the recent formation of vigilante groups that use social media to entrap young Russian gays, then kidnap and torture them on film.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

The Russian government has made clear that it will stop at nothing to stamp out the gay and trans menace. At what point will the IOC and the world community say enough-is-enough?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • patchbran

    no. it was not. so many, too many, mitigating factors. foolish to think one thing influenced everyone all @ the same time.

  • neroden

    Yeah. One has to assume that the IOC will follow the same pattern they did in 1936. Target the sponsors.

  • neroden

    Snowden may be able to get out but he’ll have to find passage to South America in order to do so. That’s going to be tricky given that the US Air Force has been deployed in an attempt to get him (a completely insane case of overkill). Putin might actually escort Snowden just to *show off* how crazy the US is, though.

  • neroden

    Exactly, smushmoth. With 1.4 million people with Top Secret clearance, very poorly vetted, you have to assume there are Russian moles there already.

    The US is known for having its “intelligence” services run by Russian moles, for decades on end: remember Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen.

  • neroden

    Given that the law is an outright prohibition on freedom of speech, it really isn’t safe for any athelete to go there.

  • neroden

    The right-wing fanatics are losing at home, so they’re trying abroad. Uganda was their first test case.

  • neroden

    LA hosted a Summer Olympics mainly by reusing sites from a previous Summer Olympics.

    The Winter Olympics are a *lot* smaller. More places build permanent facilities than you think, and a number of the events are held in the “wild”, so to speak. It would be pretty easily to do an Olympic rerun in Vancouver, and probably even possible to do it in Lake Placid, on quite short notice.

  • neroden

    It pretty much was that, though Obama’s betrayal of everyone in favor of the NSA hurt turnout a lot too.

  • neroden

    Of course you missed it — it’s illegal to report it in Russia.

  • Wilfred

    What parts exactly?

  • myself

    Virtually every sentence in this article is factually wrong.

  • RyansTake

    It’s almost certainly too late. The folks who say Vancouver — because they just had one — I think don’t realize just how much of the infrastructure added for an Olympics is temporary in nature, or permanently re-purposed. For example, where would the Olympians even stay? Olympic villages have to house thousands of athletes. They don’t just spring up overnight.

    There’s 8 months before this event happens. Honestly, even if the games were moved and delayed by a year, it would be hard to imagine even 20 months being enough time.

    So, while I’d love to see it moved, I think we have to be realistic and say the only two choices are to have the games, but put athletes, workers and those attending the games at risk, or to cancel them (or at least give Russia a very short ultimatum to reform the laws to gaurantee the safety and freedom of those attending the games, before cancelling them).

    I don’t think the IOC can afford to let the ball stay in Russia’s court at this point and the only other realistic option for IOC seems to be cancellation. They cannot knowingly put athletes or attendees at risk of being arrested, just for being who they are. They’ve never done that before and we should all be appalled at them if they do it now.

  • RyansTake

    A boycott isn’t the same as demanding something be cancelled, and I haven’t seen too many people in the LGBT movement (including allies) say the games should be cancelled and not just boycotted.

  • Crystal Nelson

    Help Boycott 2014 Olympics game in Russia. Watch this video, sign the petitions and share the video. Thank you! :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upBNjMYcHss

  • Crystal Nelson

    That is the purpose of the boycott.

  • patchbran

    but i think you need snow or ice for it to qualify as a winter sport.

  • patchbran

    yes. just that one thing. nothing else. nothing else @ all. : |.

  • dcinsider

    Taking to the streets in droves over the anti-gay policies and beatings? Must have missed that.

  • Maggie

    Cancel the games there! Shame on Russia!

  • Emma

    Russians are Russians – diverse and individual as anyone else. Those being bullied and tortured for being gay are also Russian. Many of the people I love the most in the world and have been the kindest to me and my family have been Russians. Brave Russians are taking to the streets in droves, at tremendous risk to themselves, to protest injustice. These are also Russians – please do not forget. <3

  • Emma

    Canada will take them again! You guys can all come chill in Vancouver, where we’ve still got everything set up :)

  • Bill_Perdue

    Biden is an anti-worker hypocrite of the worst kind. Biden’s Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 should have been renamed the Predatory Lenders Enabling act of 2005.

    Biden is a sick cold war liberal who vocally supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He voted for the Paytriot Act and it’s renewal. He’s never apologized for voting for DOMA.

  • mark_in_toronto

    Difference is . . . that was over 70 years ago.
    In our current environment of instant information and connectivity, there is NO excuse for allowing Russia to enforce their savage agenda on our own citizens while the world is watching. We’ll see, but so far (as you said) the IOC still has no balls.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Just what I was proposing earlier today except in terms of divestment campaigns, especially against NBC and, as always, in close consultation with our GLBT communities in Russia.

    They’re the ones who stand to make the most out of exposing Putin, United Russia, and orthodox cult before a global audience increasing fed up with homophobia and they’re the ones who stand to be victimized if things go badly.

  • Bill_Perdue

    What turned the tide in 2010 was Obama’s betrayal of everyone by Goldman Sachs.

    The Demorat party drooped 30,000 million votes 20 from Obama’s 2008 totals and, while it’s true that the Rethugs were expected to pick up some votes 30 million is an astounding number.

  • Bill_Perdue

    MSNBC is an Obot news outlet, a propaganda machine.

    So is Fox.

    They represent different gangs of racist, union busters, Bill of Rights killers, mad dog warmongers and lap dogs of the rich who want to gut Social Security.

  • Bill_Perdue

    That’s just what Nikolai Alekseev and his people are planning. Here’s the best source for news on what’s being planned http://www.gayrussia.eu/ (If you have Chrome it’ll automatically ask if you want the site translated.)

  • Bill_Perdue

    The US has boxed him by pressuring European satellite states to prevent aircraft carrying Snowden in their airspace.

    I’m afraid that Snowden is trapped and I doubt that Putin is his friend. If anything we need more and more leaks so Americans can begin to grasp the scope of the police state being built here. It puts the RF police state to shame.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The US now far surpasses the RF in it’s capacity for internal spying. And dissenters are murdered here to, reference the racist murder of a sixteen year old boy and three adults named Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed.

    If you want to know why the left calls them racist murders you have only to look at their names.

  • Bill_Perdue

    What’s wrong with you, among other things, is that you falsely claimed that Snowden regarded the RF as “a country with shared values”

  • Bill_Perdue

    Leaving out information is a form of disinformation. The real quote, as opposed to your disinformation is ““The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom.

    Why exactly did you pretend that he was speaking about Russia when when he was speaking about Iceland. Shameful.

  • Bill_Perdue

    It won’t be in our favor. We should begin plans to hit them, NBC and their other major sponsors with credible threats of divestment and boycotts. That includes sponsors like companies like McDonald’s, and GE, as well as NBC.

    They should be made to pay a price for collaborating with Putin and his Untied Russia Party.collaborators.

  • Bill_Perdue

    With NDAA, Obama’s racist murders of US citizens, NSAs total ability to record every phone call and e-mail at it’s new facility in Utah, FISA, the Paytriot act the comparative levels of authoritarianism between the US and RF are getting closer and closer.

    In many ways, because the US is a cesspool of racism, homohating, misogyny and immigrant bashing, the US is worse than the RF. “Prison rates in the US are the world’s highest, at 724 people per 100,000. In Russia the rate is 581.” That’s in spite of the fact that poverty, one of the main engines driving crimes, is much worse in the RF.

  • rondonaghe

    So find a different venue for the Winter Olympics. Let the Russians chew on that.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Somehow this doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    Disappoints. But doesn’t surprise.

  • BillFromDover

    What happens to those exhibiting pro-hetro tendencies?

  • BillFromDover

    Ever heard of of a diplomatic pouch?

  • BillFromDover

    How about every nation marching in with a rainbow flag during the opening ceremonies?

    Then, it’s either hold ‘em of fold ‘em.

  • ckg1

    Who the fuck CARES what the Breitbrats and their braindead followers think?

  • Toni Browning-Early

    This is what happens when your government starts to become a Theocracy.

    Frankly, if it’s the Eastern/Russian Orthodox Church – they’re even more conservative/traditionalist than Rome.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fierylocks FieryLocks

    Russia…still a shit hole totalitarian country that scapegoats the innocent.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Bingo—-exactly what Glen Greenwald has been saying.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Thank you. I find interesting how the argument by these types always deflect sthe issue away from the American government’s stasi-like civilian spying to credibility attacks on Snowden. Worse, they get up votes for it.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Russians are not ready for prime time……too regressive and backward for international acceptance. Everything old is new again.

  • HolyMoly

    Haha. I think the one I get mixed up all the time is gymnastics. Isn’t that a summer sport? But it seems to me like it could be done either in summer or winter, considering it’s indoors.

  • Kathryn Blair

    With this news, I would expect ALL the athletes to wear equality pins during the Parade of Nations. This would force the Russian gov’t to either suspend that dumass anti-propaganda law, or arrest ALL of the athletes, in effect shutting down the Games. Were that to happen, the gov’t would be on the hook for all the costs involved, and would be subject to international wrath.

  • FLL

    Either cancel the games or move them to another country. I wonder if it’s too late to switch to another country. There’s a long bidding process and everything. Or does the IOC always have a “backup” country that’s chosen ahead of time?

  • FLL

    Too bad Howard Dean didn’t win in 2008. He’d be all over it. However, you’re right about Biden. If there’s anyone in the wide world of sports who would show up wearing a rainbow pin, it’s Joe Biden.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    GLTBQ colors

  • FLL

    If the Sochi Games go on (and at this point, I hope they don’t), wear this NBC logo to stay within the letter of the law:

  • RyansTake

    1) Russia almost certainly doesn’t have all the information on Snowden’s computers, given that Snowden understands the nature of encrypting his files.

    2) The idea that Snowden is even keeping the most vital information on his computers is almost silly. They’re almost certainly tucked away in nondescript files across the cloud, protected by equal parts encryption codes with a hefty sum of digits and obscurity.

    3) You’re right, we shouldn’t be naive about this. That’s why you shouldn’t have commented on a topic, making sweeping assumptions, without at least knowing a tiny bit about the topic first.

  • RyansTake

    it’s a temporary asylum — a measure he’s taken so he can be able to get out of Russia, since his passport has been taken away. This basically allows him to get a new passport. I doubt he’ll be in Russia much longer at this point.

  • RyansTake

    But the nature of their anti-gay law, given its broad scope, they could literally arrest anyone who’s protesting against the Olympics over the anti-gay law because it would be defined as ‘gay propaganda’ by them. That’s the nature of the beast — shut down dissent. There could easily be mass arrests in Russia over this, and just as easily mobs of anti-gay Russians attacking fans or athletes.

  • RyansTake

    No they can’t. It takes years and years and years and years for a host to get ready for the Olympics. The only way it would be vaguely possible would be to host it in the last city that had it, but even then, most cities destroy some of the infrastructure necessary to host the games right after the games are over — because that infrastructure was temporary to begin with.

  • RyansTake

    It’s almost certainly too late to move them. Way too late.

    At this point, they’d have to be cancelled — which is exactly what should happen.

  • smushmoth

    Russia likely already has access all the data that Snowden had, but not through Snowden.

    Remember more than 1.4 million people have Top Secret security clearance, as Snowden and PFC Bradley Manning demonstrate you don’t need very high credentials to get cleared.

    Therefore we should expect that any competent intelligence agency already has multiple assets with such clearance, as well as even more assets who are not actually cleared but have access to the data of those who are.

  • RyansTake

    We should stop talking about boycotting the Olympics and start DEMANDING the IOC *cancel* Sochi.

    It isn’t safe there for those attending. Cancel the games.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Exactly!

  • Ninong

    Still more proof that the IOC lied! There is no exemption from the Russian version of Uganda’s kill-the-gays law for the Olympic athletes and visitors.

  • chip321

    I wonder if the athletes will be arrested before they are scheduled to compete.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Why would the IOC do anything? THe IOC is clearly in favor of slavery, as evidenced y the games in China, and so, too, the IOC is clearly in favor of gay-bashing, as evidenced by their eagerness to hold games in Russia so that gay athletes can be beaten up and arrested there.

    You seem to think the IOC is against this sort of thing…

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Thank you

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    According to Glen Greenwald ALL the info was given to him and his group to be selectively edited for security’s sake and his travels contained nothing to be confiscated. The idea that his lug of computers to Russia was a security breach is apparently just an unfounded conspiracy theory.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if American athletes wore rainbow wear to show democratic pluralism? Or if VP Biden showed up wearing a rainbow flag pin?

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    This business of “The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors,” seems to be the go-to talking point of Russians who want to downplay this very serious attempt to beat Russian LGBT people into submission.

    Last weekend I was at the local club and met two Russian brothers. They are LGBT supportive, and I did mention the law as well as the atmosphere there. They seemed to be rather embarrassed by the whole thing, and tried to make that same point – that the law addresses “propagandizing to minors”.

    I didn’t carry the conversation much further, I let them know that this was not a satisfactory explanation. Also, there is a comment on another article on the subject here on Americablog (likely from a Russian trying to defend the homeland), that says if you knew Russian, you’d know that one of the subjects of the video-recorded beatings was a pedophile. Aside from the fact that this was an accusation with no proof from the hoodlums that attacked him, it also doesn’t explain why the other victims shown all appear to be young teenagers. So now they punish the victim, too?

    I don’t buy any of the justifications, and the characterization of one demonstrating that they are gay as propaganda is just stretching the definition to the breaking point. Anyone who makes the argument that our mere existence and rational discussion about LGBT people is propagandizing needs to be called out on this line of blatant BS.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Let’s start with COKE—-an international brand with instant recognition.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    What a horrible thought Bj, Russia is reverting to the old Stalinist days.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Great idea

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    Meanwhile, over in Breitbartland, a not-surprising number of commenters are expressing regret that the U.S. can’t be more like Russia when it comes to the handling of uppity homos: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/07/31/Russia-May-Prosecute-Gays-at-St-Petersburg-2014-Olympics

  • Timothy Sassanella

    If the IOC can assure the safety of its participants when they are engaging in normal, everyday behavior, then they need to cancel the event or move it to a sane location. Canada is a completely modernized option.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    да, is wery backwater.

  • dcinsider

    Russians are just delightful, aren’t they?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    It can be done, and fairly easily if there’s will to do it.

  • lynchie

    move to Canada they just had the winter games, all the venues are in place.

  • lynchie

    You nailed her–ball washer, especially his O”highness.

  • jomicur

    Good.

  • lynchie

    wearing a rainbow is like putting a yellow ribbon sticker on your car. doesn’t mean shit. The only thing is someone will make money making the rainbow ribbon. Nice cosmetic answer. Boycott the games. when you touch the pocket book of Russia and IOC then it will change. Until that happen they won’t care. Hold the games in Canada they have all the facilities. by the way our evolving O’highness hasn’t said shit.

  • nicho

    Well, you can figure skate in the summer — just as they can play the hockey finals in June. It’s done indoors these days.

  • http://funnyoddthing.blogspot.com frizbeesf

    Why do you think the IOC would care? The IOC remained silent in in the Summer of 1935 just 7 months before the 36 winter games that host country passed remarkably similar laws to deal with the “Jewish threat” to their society. As long as the corporate sponsor money keeps IOC members living their jet set lifestyles they have no reason to have morals….

  • HereinDC

    Yes, She’s on vacation….and has been for about a week. So, you’re telling us that you DON’T really watch her show…..or you would of known is on vacation…..and wouldn’t of posted your comment about her being a ballwasher. Were you PAID to post that stupid comment?

  • Stev84

    Scott Lively has visited several Eastern European countries that have passed such laws. I think he was in Russia too.

  • chris10858

    I like the idea but I wouldn’t be surprised if visitors bags were searched in customs and any rainbow flags or other stuff will be confiscated ahead of time

  • Monoceros Forth

    Ah! Thanks very much for this. It’s just a hint but a telling one.

  • Bj Lincoln

    I like your idea of a flash mob unveiling but I am all for a full boycott. The money earned from the games can and will be used against LGBT people. Much like the games in Germany helped fund the Holocaust which LGBT people were a target as well.
    I will not support these games in any way.

  • emjayay

    Yeah, this Russian guy has really upped the ante.

  • emjayay

    With way, way more history of spying on its citizens. I don’t know (I think not) if there has been an opening of old files in Russia like Stasi files in formerly East Germany.
    And killing dissenters and journalists etc.

  • patchbran

    here here. see? i never even thought of writing to nbc! thanks for that. i will write, too. already wrote to proctor & gamble!

  • Hue-Man

    Probably Huckabee who’s still upset that gay concentration camps weren’t set up in the 1990s. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/08/huckabee-wanted-aids-quar_n_75924.html

  • emjayay

    Apparently after millions going to connected Russian oligarchs in corruption, apparently work is behind anyway.

  • emjayay

    Relax. Right now she is on vacation and has substitute guest hosts. Since the issue is heating up now I’m sure she will address it when she returns.

  • craigkg

    According to the law’s sponsor in the Duma, Vitaly Milonov, he’s getting support from Americans. From one new article in the International Business Times, Milonov said, “Having spoken with many American politicians, I understand that they support the stance I’ve taken on this issue. Such support has also been expressed to me by several members of German parliament.”

  • MichaelS

    Really? What’s wrong with me? Apparently what’s wrong is that I attempted to answer your request to provide a link. Or more to the point, that I attempted to reply to you at all. My mistake, it won’t happen again.

  • patchbran

    couldn’t work your sophistry theory into another comment?

  • patchbran

    & china! don’t forget china! or is that more sophistry…?

  • patchbran

    right? & you kknow they’re all torn b/c they’re on the same side of an issue as those socilaist commie red pinko fascist…er…liberals!

  • patchbran

    that’s the same attitude that put all those stupid teabaggers into the house of representatives in 2010. the potus wasn’t doing what some foot stompers wanted when they wanted it so they had a tantrum. here we are now w/ marriage & military equality, despite the useless congress & those who let them get voted in.

    all that to say, you think she isn’t trying to figure out how to speak out against nbc’ s conundrum & keep her job? yeesh. try a little patience rather than telling an advocate & ally to kiss your ass. i’m sure she has better things to do. & meanwhile, let’s do what we can. i boycotted stolichnaya from moment russia passed this law, not knowing whether it would make a difference, but it made a difference to me. now there’s this big snow ball growing & i hope it fucks up the head of those haters, & their supporters, big time.

  • Mau

    How many people can they arrest before the world reacts in horror? Every athlete and spectator who has the courage to do so should wear the rainbow hidden from view. Then maybe a mass unveiling all at once – like a flash mob thing on prime time TV would do it.

  • jomicur

    What on earth is wrong with you? No one here–NO ONE–is denying that Russian society and the current Russian regime are terrible. That is the whole point of this discussion. But I repeat: Trying to conflate Snowden’s case with the Sochi Olympics is the cheapest kind of sophistry.

  • jomicur

    He wants to stay out of jail? Good gosh, how terrible of him!

  • MichaelS

    In many ways I’m glad they’re over-playing their hand now (like the Repugs often do) — it just exposes how evil and hateful they really are, that they couldn’t even be patient enough until after Sochi to bring down the axe.

  • patchbran

    hee hee. figure skating in the summer? isn’t that called swimming?

  • Mau

    I’m on your side. I didn’t think the boycott would make a dent in anything, but I was wrong and said so. This has escalated to the point I have just written to NBC. Equal rights are never silly.

  • patchbran

    why would you think anything purporting equal rights is silly? & why do some people always need to wait until it affects their own lives to stand up for what is right? even if a boycott is symbolic, it still sends a message to the oppressed that we stand w/ them however we can; so they do not feel abandoned.

  • A_nonymoose

    What if they gave an Olympics, and nobody came? We’re about to find out . . .

  • MichaelS

    It’s in Russia’s interest that no more information gets released, because anyone with any experience at all in dealing with these kinds of regimes would assert that Russia already has all the information on Snowden’s computers. He’s been in their control for a month, and they most certainly have taken every last byte of information that they need. And now it’s in Russia’s full interests not to let the US know exactly what they know, exactly how many secrets Snowden might have escaped with. Not knowing what another country — particularly Russia –knows is in many ways even more damaging than having the information released in the first place.

    We should not be naive about this… Foreign service friends tell me that when they travel to countries like Russia, they have to keep their Blackberry’s with them at all times, even bringing them into the shower with them, in a plastic bag. To leave it unwatched in your hotel room for even 5 minutes is to almost guarantee that it would be compromised.

  • Mau

    At first I thought the boycott idea was a little silly, but with this news: “Russia’s Minister of Sports, Vitaly Mutko, said that athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia will be subject to arrest should they exhibit any pro-gay tendencies” I think some serious action needs to be taken. How about starting with the major sponsors? Can’t let this go on unchallenged.

  • Rambie

    Agreed, time to hit at the heart of the IOC and it’s sponsors.

  • MichaelS

    Here’s another money quote from the same interview:

    “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
    “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

    And yet he chose an even more authoritarian society in which to live.

  • MichaelS

    Well, maybe not those exact words, but how about this: “My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-why
    Sure, now that his butt is on the line, he’ll buy any offer of asylum just to stay out of jail, no matter how foul or hypocritical. Which is exactly what he got.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I think there are those in the Russian government with direct interest in trying to tamp down uproar, so the Olympics happen without any problems — and others who are fully on board with their new anti-gay pogrom. (Governments almost never act or behave monolithically, not even autocracies.)

    The IOC on the other hand wants to hear what it wants to hear, which was the reassurances that the pogrom wouldn’t apply to its visiting athletes (and their support staff, and the media crews, and the visiting international spectators…). So they’re gonna continue to downplay and try willfully to ignore the other half of the message, which is that the pogrom is very much “on,” regardless who it affects.

    The plain fact seems to be that the Russian officials behind the pogrom have been very clear their intended definition of ‘propaganda’ is so broad and inclusive, you can be arrested merely for appearing to be gay or trans.

    So anyway, okay, we have the outrage machine revved up. I’d say it’s time to direct it at the 2014 Sochi corporate sponsors and at the IOC itself. Never before has a host country essentially said they could not and would not guarantee the safety of its visitors. Plus these anti-gay laws are contrary to the IOC’s own charter of inclusiveness and non-discrimination.

    The time to act is now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vital.moors Vital Moors

    This is not only about the fun of the atlethes by joining the games. It is much more. A boycot of the games in Germany in 1939 was not nessecairy people said even if everybody knew about how Hitler was treatening Jewish poeple. Not it is the same story and of course everybody say oh we do not boycot the games, because it will hurt some spoeters. But a boycot is not only for the wellbeing of the sporters, but for the welbeing of all gay people in Russia.

  • UncleBucky

    Any corporation who serves the Russian Sochi Winter Olympics should be daylighted NOW.

  • Rambie

    Figure skating is a winter Olympic sport. ;) I could see your conspiracy happening, maybe not planned but some bigot cop arresting a athlete.

  • Rambie

    I’d love to see the IOC move the games, but there is a ton of planning and prep work. Note that I live in a past Winter Olympic city, many of the venues used for the Olympics were temporary. There was multi-years worth of planning, training and prep work. Granted, I think my city could do it again much faster this time, but it’d still be a huge challenge for any city to host the games at this late date.

    Again, I’d love to see the IOC do it, maybe if they’d have the Winter & Summer games in 2016. They used to have both games on the same year, but that’d be a bummer for the athletes that were training and planning on 2014 games.

  • HolyMoly

    As I understand it, asylum was granted on the condition that he agreed not to release any more top secret information to the public.

    I know the U.S. government is still all gangbusters about getting their hands on Snowden, but it seems to me like this is definitely something they (at least secretly) are glad is happening.

    Maybe Russia hopes the U.S. won’t speak out officially or boycott the Olympics in exchange.

  • HolyMoly

    So, imagine this scenario: Russia stands to wind up with only a silver medal in whatever event that the traditionally dominate — let’s say figure skating (is that a summer or winter event? I dunno). They could lose the gold to, say, the United States. Quite coincidentally, of course, some top-seated U.S. figure skaters are arrested for exhibiting “gay” mannerisms in public, or wearing a rainbow pin, or speaking out, and Russia goes on to receive the gold!

    That’s my conspiracy theory for today!

  • Badgerite

    I don’t see how, people who go to the Sochi Olympics could fail to make demonstrations of support now. Russia has made it an issue. Just before the games. How could one attend and NOT make a statement about this?

  • dommyluc

    You know, I’ve seen Rachel Maddow do countless reports on how the right-wing morons are constantly trying to eliminate reproductive rights of women, as well she should, because it is an important matter that needs to be addressed and talked about by the general public. But when is she going to start screaming – and I do mean scream – about this, or is she just another corporate ball-washer that doesn’t want to upset her masters at NBC because they spent a fortune for the rights to the Sochi Games? Hey, I love Rachel, but if she doesn’t start speaking uo about this, she can kiss my ass. We’re talking about a risk to peoples lives – not some symbolic risk but a REAL risk. And fuck any corporate sponsors wh tolerate this. Yeah, fuck you, Coca-Cola, and your snuggly Christmas polar bears, too!

  • jomicur

    Why on earth not? There’s nothing preventing them from announcing a postponement and moving the games to another venue–preferably one that has hosted the winter games in the past and still has its facilities intact.The IOC, not to mention gay athletes and sports fans, are standing on a railroad line with a locomotive approaching fast. They need to jump.

  • Whitewitch

    I suspect he was just happy to get out of the airport. In a crises like his it is sort of an “any port in the storm”.

  • Rambie

    At this point I don’t think they can.

  • jomicur

    Can you please provide a link to a statement where Snowden describes Russia as “freedom-loving”? Granted, in his case it’s clearly more freedom-loving that the US, but under the Bush-Obama regime, that isn’t hard. Trying to conflate his case with the Olympics is sophistry at its cheapest.

  • jomicur

    What on earth will it take for the IOC to move these games to another country? If Russia formally announces that gay visitors will be beaten and tortured, just like gay Russians, would that be enough? The Sochi Olympics are a human rights atrocity waiting to happen. We need to step up pressure on the IOC and as many of its corporate sponsors as we can, starting with NBC.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Heh

  • Clint Notestine

    good things its the lesser of the olympics. Id like to see some celebrities cause a problem there by wearing rainbow stuff.

  • Monoceros Forth

    This is insane. The Russian government is going out of its way to provoke a crisis! Why are they doing this? What are they hoping to prove?

  • Jim Olson

    It will be ugly no matter what happens. Even if Russia temporarily repeals or suspends the law, the cultural homophobia will still be in place, and athletes, trainers, staff and spectators are all still in danger.

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    The Russian authorities are setting themselves up for a massive protest at the Olympics by athletes and spectators alike, and a massive international embarrassment no matter how they handle it.

  • Franklin7777

    Sets up the possibility for a John Carlos-Tommie Smith type moment… That could be interesting.

  • MichaelS

    Hmmmm… Given Snowden’s recent award of asylum, I wonder how he feels about freedom-loving Russia in light of their new anti-gay laws?
    Hope Snowden’s hetero credentials are in order… (Wonder if he would have been granted asylum if he were gay…)

  • Jim Olson

    The USOC needs to make a decision about this very quickly.

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