Was Coke implicated in Olympic arrest of rainbow flag-waving gay Russian?

Coca-Cola may have been implicated in the arrest earlier today of a Russian gay rights activist who was simply holding a small rainbow flag as the Olympic flame went by on the road.  The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia next month.

Pavel Lebedev was jumped by officials in official Olympic gear, later identified by the Associated Press as “Olympic security officials.”

What was not known at that time was that the standard uniform of the Olympic security officials who assaulted the civil rights advocate appears to sport the Coca-Cola logo.  Keep in mind that no one sports the Coca-Cola logo, or any other logo of an Olympic sponsor, without Coke’s explicit permission.

Here’s Lebedev being arrested.  Note the small grouping of white hexagons on his Olympic attacker’s leg.

coca-cola-olympics-1A Google search turned up other Olympic security officials at other Olympic flame events wearing the same blue and white uniforms and sporting the same white hexagons, such as this one, courtesy of Russian gas giant Gazprom:


You’ll note that the first hexagon in the photo immediately above appears to have the same logo as the man who attacked the gay rights advocates.  It’s the Sochi 2014 logo.

Now, on closer examination, look whose logo is also on the leg of the Olympic security agent just above:


I was unable to identity the other two logos alongside the Coke logo – if anyone can identity them, let me know.

In order to make sure different security agents weren’t sporting different corporate logos, I looked around and found additional Olympic security personnel – all of whom appear to have the exact same logos on their white hexagon, including the Coke logo. For example, here one on the man’s chest:


And here on another man’s leg:

coke-logo-5And here’s another from the Sochi Twitter feed at an entirely different event – while you can’t read the logos, the shapes and colors (red red blue) appear to be identical:


Whenever I found the white hexagons on a blue-uniformed Olympic security agent, and the logos were visible, the Coke logo was there.

Was the Olympic security agent who accosted a young gay civil rights advocate in Russia earlier today also wearing the Coca-Cola logo?

And just as important, if he was wearing the logo, why would Coke give permission for their logo to be worn by security agents that they must have known would eventually have run-ins with gay civil rights advocates?  It’s almost a given at this Olympics.

I asked Duncan Osborne, a spokesman for Queer Nation, that has been targeting Coca-Cola and other sponsors for their support of the Russian Olympics, for his take on all of this:

“The IOC and The Coca-Cola Company have been silent about the Russia government’s violations of human rights, including its attacks on LGBT Russians,” Osborne said. “And now the perpetrators of today’s assault are wearing the Olympic brand, and appear to be wearing Coke’s as well. It is past time for Coke and the IOC to speak out.”

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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