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August 13, 2013

Russian government confirms gay protesters to be arrested at Olympics

Russian government confirms gay protesters to be arrested at Olympics

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2008, along with the Prime Minister, Viktor Zubkov (left), and Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Zhukov (right).
Image: Presidential Press and Information Office, Russian Government.

Russia’s Interior Ministry confirmed yesterday that the police will enforce the law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” during the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi in February.

The statement said “law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbour a nontraditional sexual orientation” so long as they do not promote homosexuality to minors, “do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully.”

The statement continued: “Any discussion on violating the rights of representatives of nontraditional sexual orientations, stopping them from taking part in the Olympic Games or discrimination of athletes and guests of the Olympics according to their sexual orientation is totally unfounded and contrived.”

Alexander Zhukov, the deputy Prime Minister and head of the Russian Olympics Committee told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti: “If a person does not put across his views in the presence of children, no measures against him can be taken. People of nontraditional sexual orientations can take part in the competitions and all other events at the games unhindered, without any fear for their safety whatsoever.”

The International Olympics Committee stated last week they would seek clarification from the Russian government after calls from gay activists to relocate the event.

Stephen Fry in 2008.
Image: Free Software Foundation.

Last week, British actor Stephen Fry wrote an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron arguing the Winter Games ought to be relocated, and Russian President Vladimir Putin “is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews”. Fry argued “[anti-gay] beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law.”

Fry attended a protest in London on Saturday against the Russian laws on homosexuality. At the protest he said: “All homophobic regimes say this — they say they do it for the children. They do this to stop children being propogandised at by gay people. That’s not the situation at all. What they have done is unleashed thugs who have done unspeakable things to teenagers, lured them, beaten them, humiliated them, tortured them. This continues to be the case.”

On Twitter, David Cameron responded to Fry’s call for a relocation of the Games: “Thank you for your note @stephenfry. I share your deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia. However, I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics.”

Lord Sebastian Coe, head of the British Olympic Association, also rejected the call for a boycott or relocation: “only damage one group of people, and that is the athletes. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, but not an issue that is one of a boycott.”

Coe also argued the Olympics and other sporting events help promote social change: “International sport is not an inhibitor of social change, it actually has quite strong catalytic effects. I am a profound believer that the relationships developed through international sport are often in the infancy of social change.”

U.S. President Barack Obama has also rejected a call for a boycott. At a press conference at the White House last week, he stated: “I want to just make very clear right now: I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics[…] We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed. Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia.”



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  • “Russian government homosexuality position leads to NYC Russian vodka boycott” — Wikinews, August 7, 2013

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August 7, 2013

Russian government homosexuality position leads to NYC Russian vodka boycott

Russian government homosexuality position leads to NYC Russian vodka boycott

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Russian vodka
Image: Anthony Knuppel Appleton.

As of Monday, over 200 New York City area bars and restaurants had committed to boycotting Russian vodka in response to anti-homosexuality related laws passed by the country’s government. The boycott follows another event that took place on Monday where bottles of vodka were poured onto the streets of the city, as part of a protest by the President of United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association, Paul Hurley.

New York One quotes Hurley as saying the reason for the boycott as , “We’re not stupid, we’re reading papers, we’re reading what’s going on over there, they’ve got to stop what’s happened.”

The press conference announcing the New York City boycott took place at Desmonds Steakhouse located on the 38th Street and 7th Avenue. LGBT activists and models attended the event. Johnny Donovan, manager of J Donovan Productions, is quoted by the New York Daily Times as saying, “Shame on Russia! […] When I go out to a night club this weekend, I’m not drinking any Russian vodka!”

Activists in other cities are also boycotting Russian vodka. A protest at the San Francisco City Hall took place on Tuesday, where vodka was dumped into the sewers. On social media, the hashtag #dumpstoli is being used to draw attention to the boycott and protests.

These boycotts are not without criticism. Dodds of Time Magazine points out, “At first glance, Stoli seems a logical target for those hoping to promote greater awareness of the plight of gays in Russia. Not only is it widely associated with the country, vodka is also one of Russia’s most profitable consumer exports to the U.S. […] But while Stoli’s ingredients — wheat, rye and raw alcohol — are Russian, the vodka itself is distilled in Latvia and distributed in the U.S. by William Grant & Sons USA, an American subsidiary of a Scottish corporation.” The international popularity of the brand have resulted in the company being continually threatened with nationalization by the Russian government.

A 2013 world map showing areas same-sex couple adoption rules
Image: Titanicophile.

Last month, gay and lesbian couples were barred by law from adopting Russian children. The country also banned “homosexual propaganda.” The legislation means gays and lesbians, if found guilty of breaking these laws, could be jailed. According to Russia Today, most Russians support the legislation “against promoting homosexuality to minors.” Russia Today goes on to say these laws are, “intend[ed] to keep minors from being influenced by non-traditional sexual relationship propaganda and it will be enforced with fines, but not criminal punishment.”

A Pew Research Center study published in June suggests that attitudes towards homosexuality in Russia found the population to be the least accepting of homosexuals of nine other European countries also surveyed. Countries with less acceptance than Russia included in the survey include Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria. Negative Russian attitudes towards homosexuality are also supported by research conducted by Russian Levada Center.

The homosexuality issue as it pertains to Russian law comes against the backdrop of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics scheduled to be hosted in the Russian city of Sochi early next year. Last week, Russian Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko reaffirmed the country will enforce these laws during the Games and foreign athletes, journalists and spectators will be subject to them.



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February 17, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: February 17, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: February 17, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 17, 2008

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A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, February 17, 2008.

Italy arrests Nazi war criminal

Nazi war criminal Michael Seifert was arrested today in Naples, after having been extradited from Canada. Seifert (83), known as the “Beast of Bolzano,” was convicted in absentia in 2000 in Italy on nine counts of murder committed while he was an SS guard at a prison transit camp in Bolzano, northern Italy.

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Kasparov arrested again by Russian police

Russian opposition leader and chess-grandmaster Garry Kasparov is arrested today, says a Russian radio station. In Sochi Kasparov visited people who had to leave their houses, since their property will be demolished, it is needed to build new hotels and sporting accommodations for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Kasparov’s van is confiscated by the police, he says. “This is typical to how police and FSB deal with people that are critical to the Kremlin”.

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Anglo-Dutch Reed Elsevier cuts 1000 jobs

Anglo-Dutch mediagroup Reed Elsevier has announced that in the next few years over 1,000 jobs will be axed to cut costs. Reed (London and Amsterdam) currently employs 37,000 people. Analysts welcome the plans, Morgan Stanley analyst Patrick Wellington says: “Reed will announce a cost-cutting programme with the aim of saving around £100m over two to three years.”

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Valentine kiss punished with whiplashes in Bangladesh

A Bangladesh man who kissed his sister in law was punished with 5 whiplashes and a 200 taka fine, according to The Daily Ittefaq. The woman’s brother filed a complaint with local authorities in a village in Joypurjat district.

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September 29, 2007

Support strong to bring back 1980 Soviet mascot for the 2014 Olympics

Support strong to bring back 1980 Soviet mascot for the 2014 Olympics

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

File:Misza 1980.jpg

Misha the Bear remains popular among Russians.
Image: Radomil..
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For the first time after the fall of the iron curtain Russia will host the Olympic Games – in 2014 the Winter Olympics will take place in Sochi, a Black Sea resort town. The games are considered a matter of national prestige and generate more media attention than the recent changes in Russian government (Russia’s Putin recently installed the new prime-minister, who, incidentally, also became the chair of the Russian Olympic committee.)

As Russia takes enormous efforts to prepare for the Olympics and build a modern sport infrastructure from scratch, the Russian public is more concerned with the mascot for the upcoming games. When Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics in the 1980, the mascot for the Moscow Games was Misha the Bear, developed by children’s book illustrator Victor Chizhikov. Misha instantly became a graphic-design hit, especially in the Soviet bloc. Olympic posters were snatched up and t-shirts were fought over. And as Sochi is set to become the new Olympic city, Russians are keen to see the old bear return.

There is a long way to the Sochi Olympics, but the Bear is already coming back from retirement. Russia! magazine, an English-language publication distributed in the US and the UK, has commissioned the most prominent designers and artists to do their own renditions of the famed mascot. “The Olympic Bear turns any Russian between the ages of 25 and 50 to quivering jelly. Our artistic compatriots were happy to whip the old bear into shape for 21st century use” – says Ilya Merenzon, the magazine’s publisher. “And the readers’ response was overwhelming. As soon as the new issue arrived at the stores, we constantly get emails requesting the Bear t-shirts. The animal is regaining his popularity”. – adds Merenzon.

It has not been decided, however, on the Sochi Games mascot. Another option is Cheburashka, a famous Russian cartoon character with big ears and humble smile. Cheburashka was the mascot for the Russian Olympic team in Turin and is one of the best-selling children’s toys in former USSR countries and, surprisingly, Japan, where it is known as “Chebu”.

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July 6, 2007

Sochi, Russia to host 2014 Winter Olympics

Sochi, Russia to host 2014 Winter Olympics

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Sochi 2014 logo.png

The International Olympic Committee awarded the XXII Winter Olympics, to be held in 2014, to Sochi, Russia, a resort city near the Black Sea, in Guatemala City yesterday defeating Pyeongchang, South Korea, by just four votes. Salzburg, Austria, was eliminated in the first round by 25 votes.

According to the Associated Press, several factors played a part in Sochi’s win. One factor was that of Russian president Vladimir Putin himself. Putin, an avid skier and a black belt in judo, traveled to Guatemala to lobby IOC members and headed up the final presentation of Sochi’s bid to the assembly.

“Putin being here was very important, he worked very hard at it. He was nice. He spoke French — he never speaks French. He spoke English — he never speaks English,” said French IOC member and former ski champion Jean-Claude Killy.

Patrick Hickey, an Irish member of the IOC agreed. “There’s no doubt that President Putin’s presence was a massive influence, his performance was superb. He was humble. He spoke in English and French. The second most powerful man in the world said everything will be delivered.”

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former IOC president and Spanish ambassador to Russia made a big push for Sochi, which may have swung some key votes according to some IOC members.

“This is, without doubt, not just a recognition of Russia’s sporting achievements but it is, beyond any doubt, a judgment on our country, it is a recognition of our growing capability, first of all economically and socially,” Putin stated upon his return to Russia.

Another factor is Russia’s brand new wealth from exports of Russian natural gas and oil, which provided over $12 billion for Putin to invest in the Games and the infrastructure around Sochi.

Russia last hosted the games in 1980 in Moscow, when the country was known as the Soviet Union. The games were boycotted by the United States and some of its allies over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The United States continues to spar with Russia over human rights abuses and the subjugation of democratic freedoms.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack spoke in Washington to reporters stating, “Well, it’s a proud moment for Russia and I am sure it’s a proud moment for him so he can characterize it as he sees fit, I’m not sure that the selection of Russia to host the Winter Olympics really, at this point, changes our view or others’ views — or concerns — about the direction of democracy and related issues: human rights, respect for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and to be able to peaceably organize opposition democratic parties.”

Meanwhile, Sochi has announced that progress of construction on venues in Sochi will be offered online. Dmitri Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014’s bid leader said, “The IOC will be online every single moment in terms of construction, there will be live video from all construction sites.”

The next Olympic bid is for the 2016 Summer Olympics which includes bids from Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Doha, Baku, and Prague.

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