Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is trying to reassure the world that Olympic athletes will not be arrested for little things like carrying rainbow flags during the games, the latest in a string of contradictory statements from the Russian government on the issue.
While Russian officials have reassured the International Olympic Committee that Russia will not discriminate against homosexuals during the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Games, they also have said that the law will be enforced. This has left open the question of what would happen to athletes or fans if they made statements or gestures that could be considered propaganda.
In the interview at his country residence outside Moscow, Putin said that they would not be punished. But he clearly has no intention of allowing a gay pride parade during the Olympics. Last month, he signed a decree banning all demonstrations and rallies in Sochi throughout the Winter Games.
Besides, he says gay people are treated well in his country. He talks to them and everything. And he listens to a gay composer:
“I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields,” Putin said in an interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television late Tuesday. “We have absolutely normal relations, and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.”
He added that Russians love Tchaikovsky even though the composer was said to have been a homosexual. “Truth be told, we don’t love him because of that, but he was a great musician and we all love his music,” Putin said.
I bet he even lets them use his bathroom, as long as they don’t spread “propaganda” on the way.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: