Russian OIympic head wants to ban political opinions at Sochi

Frustrated at the fact that most people in the world have opinions, and that in most civilized countries you don’t get arrested simply for expressing them, Russian Olympic head Dmitry Chernyshenko said yesterday that he doesn’t think Olympic athletes should be permitted to express their political views during news conference at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia, even when asked.

The problem for Chernyshenko is that International Olympic Committee (IOC) chairman Thomas Bach said just the day before that athletes could make political statements during the press conferences, though not at the actual events themselves.

While saying that athletes are not permitted to make political statements during competition or the medal ceremony, Bach added: “It is also clear, on the other hand, the athletes enjoy the freedom of speech so if in a press conference they wanted to make a political statement then they are absolutely free to do so.”


The contradiction between the IOC and the Russians harkened back to last summer when the US Olympic Committee, the Russians and the IOC couldn’t get their story straight then either.

All of this is against the backdrop of Russia’s draconian new anti-gay “propaganda” law that bans any speech or actions perceived to be pro-gay, if they occur in front of children, or in a manner that might influence children.  Many have interpreted this to mean that simply being openly gay would be illegal. The law is so vague that it could cause a lot of trouble for Olympic athletes, media and guests.

And in fact, both the Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, and the Russian Interior Ministry threatened to arrest Olympic athletes, and other guests, who ran afoul of the law.  And while Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to assuage foreign concerns, Putin did reiterate the other day that the anti-gay law will still apply to everyone attending the Olympics.

In related Olympic intolerance news, Canadian IOC member Dick Pound dismissed international human rights activists’ concerns about the anti-gay law by apparently suggesting that gay Russians had it good because at least they weren’t being killed.

“In Malaysia, you can be put to death. In Nigeria, you can be put in jail for God knows how long,” Pound said. “So it’s a target of convenience with respect to Russia, not that I approve of the law, but putting it on a scale of 1-10 of odious laws, it’s not way up there near 10.”

Pound said much of the anti-Russia gay stand emanates from the United States, where, Pound says, only a handful of states allow same-sex marriage.

“So whose ox is getting gored here?” Pound said.

Actually, Dick, the issue isn’t permitting gays to marry. It’s about throwing them in jail simply because of who they are.  It’s about threatening to pass a law taking their children away from them.  And it’s about having the government tacitly sanction the kidnapping, and possibly murder, of young gay teens simply because they’re gay.

Russian vigilante groups have organized around the country to kidnap young gay people and terrorize them, while the government mostly ignored them.

Russian vigilante groups have organized around the country to kidnap young gay people and terrorize them, while the government mostly ignored them.

What an incredibly insensitive, un-democratic, and pro-fascist thing for any member of the IOC to say.  It’s one thing for the IOC to not pay near enough attention to the human rights problems in the countries they visit.  But it’s quite another for the IOC to almost give a stamp of approval to human rights abuses by minimizing them.

russia gay kidnap

15 year old gay Russian boy kidnapped, and tortured, by anti-gay vigilantes that the Russian government refused to arrest. His captors later attempted to make him drink urine to “cure” him from being gay.

And these people wonder why they have a problem.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | 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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26 Responses to “Russian OIympic head wants to ban political opinions at Sochi”

  1. 4th Turning says:

    Hey, I can truly appreciate your fascination with the language and that
    amazing cyrillic alphabet. Just replied to nicho over in the Brand Russia
    story if you have time to look at it? Grateful for Google translator!

  2. Ninong says:

    If you want to look up somebody in Russian on the Internet, it’s better to type their name like this: Путин, Владимир Владимирович

    That’s Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Vladimirovich is his patronymic, meaning that his father’s name was Vladimir. Whenever they interview him on TV, they call him Vladimir Vladimirovich. That’s the more or less formal address. In familiar conversation, he’s simply Vladimir.

    When Putin staged that phony interview with a lone invited Russian reporter to announce to the world that he had finally decided to divorce his wife, Lyudmila, he called her Lyudmila Putina and she called him Vladimir Vladimirovich, which was rather formal. Lyudmila Putina would be her married name. Her full name is Lyudmila Alexandrovna Putina. Her father’s name was Alexander.

    Here’s her full name in Cyrillic: Путина, Людмила Александровна
    That’s putting her last name first, followed by a comma, which is how you usually see it online in reference material written in Russian. Once she’s divorced from Little Vlad, she drops the Putina. In English, her name would be Lyudmila Putin but in Russian it’s Putina.

    I have noticed that in all the TV interviews, whether it’s an important person or just an athlete or entertainer, they almost always use the first name followed by the patronymic in addressing the guest. Sometimes I watch that stuff online just to see how much Russian I can recognize. Believe me, it’s very, very little. Usually just the most common words and phrases that I remember from my one year of Russian in 1958.

  3. 4th Turning says:

    Hey, thanks for the clarification. I think Americans have similar problems with
    Chinese last names coming first also.

    The point I very much would like to re-emphasize is that when we can actually
    have the correct name for at least one or two “individuals” in the ocean of faces
    that wash across our line of vision each day, we can connect in a personally
    more meaningful/empathetic way which hopefully will increase everyone’s
    skin in the game.

  4. DCM70508 says:

    Please sign my petition called “TOP TEN REASONS WHY WE WON”T BE WATCHING THE 2014 SOCHI OLYMPICS” which we’re sending to NBC, NBC Sports, and the International Olympic Committee. Let them know we won’t support corporations and organizations that put money and profits ahead of people and human rights. Here’s the web link:

  5. Ninong says:

    Hey, more good news for the Russians just in time for the Sochi Olympics. This time courtesy of the British Medical Journal, The Lancet.

    The high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka, research shows.

    The study, in The Lancet, says 25% of Russian men die before they are 55, and most of the deaths are down to alcohol. The comparable UK figure is 7%.

    Causes of death include liver disease and alcohol poisoning. Many also die in accidents or after getting into fights.

  6. Ninong says:

    If you’re talking about that 15-yr-old blond boy who was lured into Moscow by those Occupy Gerontophilia thugs, his first name is Denis (Денис). If you listen to the video, they call him Denis. Sergeyenko (Сергиенко) is a surname, not a first name. Mihailov (Михайлов) is his patronymic. It’s customary to give the surname first when identifying yourself.

    I don’t have a link to the video but I definitely remember that his name is Denis.

  7. 4th Turning says:

    The “Russian boy’s” name is Sergeyenko Denis Mihailov. He is told to repeat it 3x at 8:34.
    It’s then printed out in Eng. extra large in all caps. 15 going on 50… Hope he is safe
    wherever he is tonight-and all the others on that link. (over 400 videos?)

  8. lynchie says:

    Well this coven does worship the $$$$$$

  9. BeccaM says:


  10. karmanot says:

    So Dick, Is ‘gay’ the new ‘Juden’?

  11. Naja pallida says:

    As with everything else, the IOC isn’t moved until they’re bribed enough to.

  12. BeccaM says:

    Well, if you go back to the 1920s and 30s, much of the world was awash with anti-Semitic propaganda — including here in America. While there were plenty of people who didn’t have any problem with Jews, it was nevertheless treated simply as an alternative viewpoint to believe the anti-Semitic slurs.

    In the 40s through the 60s, it was the same thing with racial prejudice in America. Bigoted racism was treated as just a different opinion — and a common one.

    We’re still in an era where it remains socially acceptable in many nations — and in many respects, still here in America — to simply believe it’s morally depraved to be LGBT. I continue to be amazed yet at how many of the news accounts I read reporting on events in Russia and in the African nations don’t bother to refute the very reasons the anti-gay pogroms have been justified.

    Seriously: I dare anyone to read even the accounts critical of Russia’s anti-gay laws and find any words along the lines of, “Russia passed these laws ostensibly because they claim gays prey on children and are a danger to society, when in fact these claims are absolutely not true. The laws serve no legitimate public safety purpose.”

    And thus is it we see apologists everywhere, claiming that Russia is simply exercising its right to sovereignty and self-rule, and that anti-gay animus is simply a benign expression of traditional Russian conservative culture. When what it really is, is a yet another expression of ‘traditional’ Russian xenophobia and scapegoating — finding a convenient minority to oppress so that the Russian people don’t realize their problems, their poverty and powerlessness, is actually due to those in power.

    Sadly, here in America, lately we do the same thing when the word “Muslim” is invoked.

  13. BeccaM says:

    ‘Coven’? Sorry, but I very much prefer the term “corrupt plutocratic cabal and criminal enterprise.”

  14. lynchie says:

    Quote by Dick Pound who been involved with the Olympics for 35 years.

    “Pound said it will take more than this trip for the IOC to consider adding sexual orientation to the Olympic Charter.“Certainly
    not in the short run. If you wanted to get to that stage, which I think
    is a big stretch, you’d have to get a pretty good backswing organized
    and go around the world and get national Olympic committees to agitate
    for it as part of their Games preparations,” he said”

    Another old, tired white man who wants the IOC to remain a secret coven.

  15. The_Fixer says:

    Shaken, not stirred.

  16. ronbo says:

    Don’t you wonder how long it will take the corporatized news industry to purchase The Guardian and “clean it up” for proper news consumption?

    Thanks for the link.

  17. dcinsider says:

    I’m always glad to hear that Canada has its share of total nitwits too.

  18. emjayay says:

    History made simple, ignoring all the details:

    Russia was run by a Czar, who I assume tolerated no dissent because he had all the power. Then it was taken over by Communists, who tolerated no dissent because they had the one and only truth about everything not to mention continuing to have all the power. Then the power was snatched by former Communists who turned themselves into oligarchs and cornered all the wealth and power in the country and having all that do not want to tolerate any challenge. Russians simply have no tradition of free speech and toleration of any ideas other than those of the guys at the top or dispersal of power to individuals.

    The traditions in the West come mainly from the rationalists of the Enlightenment mainly in Britain and France, although of course we always have a large segment who do not understand any of that and generally would like to roll things back to before anyone ever thought of any of the ideals expressed in our Declaration and Constitution. Now known as the Republican Party.

    Anyway, all this is to be expected and I’m just kind of surprized that the Russians, in a time of actual reporting and the internet etc. are so stupid. They just can’t help themselves, and the Russian people with their many generations of experience with centralized power and lack of free expression no doubt mostly go along with it.

    The general Russian cultural retardedness and homophobia are just a part of the same story. A lot of peasants living in Middle Ages up until 1917 and then insulated from any new thinking for 70 years after that.

  19. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    To me it sounds more like the kind of pseudonym a porn actor would reject because it’s just a little too obvious.

  20. zerosumgame0005 says:

    Pound, Dick Pound

  21. jomicur says:

    The Guardian has a story about more than fifty current and former Olympic athletes signing a statement demanding that Russia repeal its laws. I’m hoping, and hoping hard, that this is only a foretaste of what we’ll get from athletes at the games. (And meanwhile, I’m sure this must be giving Johnny Weir a big case of the sadz. Good.)

  22. zerosumgame0005 says:

    all this gay stuff is distracting them from their graft!

  23. nicho says:

    Dick Pound? OMG!!! Sounds like a porn actor to me.

  24. ronbo says:

    Gays are not the last victim of prejudice, they are just the next in line. Humanity is too easily lost when cash is on the line. The IOC’s profit margin is apparently, just more important.

  25. Jim says:

    Yet another reason to hate that moralizing dick pound. A–hole already has caused enough harm to sports with his witchhunts.

  26. how anyone could have anything to do with these games, at this point, is a mystery to me. again, i’m wondering how the rest of the world would react if the russians were saying “black” or “jew” instead of gay.

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