News / Europe

Putin Says Russia Not 'Going After' Gays

Security guards check visitors at the entrance to the olympic park in Adler near Sochi, Jan. 16, 2014.
Security guards check visitors at the entrance to the olympic park in Adler near Sochi, Jan. 16, 2014.
Reuters
Russia is not “going after” gays, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, defending a ban on “propaganda” about homosexuality that has brought criticism from the West ahead of the Winter Olympics.
 
The Kremlin hopes the games, starting on Feb. 7 in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea, will showcase Russia's modern face more than two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed.
 
Putin has identified himself closely with the $50 billion event and also pledged Russia will do everything to ensure safe Games in spite of security concerns.
 
But Russia last year upset the West and human rights activists by banning what it called the promotion of homosexuality among minors. Calls for a mass boycott of the games have failed, but the row has clouded the build-up to the event.
 
Critics say the law is discriminatory and part of a rolling back of human rights and democratic freedoms under Putin, who has taken a more conservative course on social issues since returning to the presidency in mid-2012.
 
“There is no ban on non-traditional forms of sexual interaction between people. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality,” Putin told a meeting with young volunteers preparing for the games.
 
“We ban nothing, we aren't going after anyone, we have no  responsibility for such contacts.”
 
Putin said some U.S. states had laws envisaging criminal responsibility for gay sexual intercourse.
 
“We have no such thing, people can feel free and at ease but please leave the children in peace,” he said.
 
Putin did not elaborate. In a victory for gay rights activists, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 invalidated any remaining anti-sodomy laws that prohibited sex between adults of the same gender.
 
In a clear message to Moscow, U.S. President Barack Obama included three openly gay athletes in his Olympic delegation and Britain said it would sent to Sochi a minister responsible for the country's same-sex marriage laws.
 
Security
 
Moscow has said it expects more than 6,000 athletes from 85 countries and hundreds of thousands of sports fans in Sochi.
 
It has also introduced a security clampdown in the city, bringing in about 37,000 personnel to ensure safety after at least 34 people were killed last month in suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd, some 700 km (400 miles) northeast of Sochi.
 
“Our task as the organizers is to ensure security to the participants of the Olympics and guests of this sports fete and we will do everything to that end,” Putin said in an interview with several TV channels, according to excerpts run by ITAR-TASS news agency on Friday evening.
 
Putin vowed to annihilate “terrorists” after the bombings in Volgograd added to security fears ahead of the games in Sochi, a few hundred kilometers from the North Caucasus where Islamist separatists are fighting to carve out their own state.
 
“If we allow ourselves to show weakness, show fear, then it means we will be aiding terrorists and the accomplishment of their goals,” Putin also said in the interview quoted on Friday.
 
North Caucasus faces nearly daily violence and at least five people, including two policemen, were hospitalized after two blasts in the provincial capital of Makhachkala on Friday evening, security officials said.
 
But, visibly relaxed and making jokes throughout the meeting with Sochi volunteers, Putin appeared confident and said he would like to go to some ice hockey matches during the Games if time allows.
 
“Everybody in our country likes figure skating, I do too. I like cross-country skiing, biathlon, Alpine skiing. This is what I know and what I like,” Putin also said.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid