With the 2014 Winter Olympics starting next month, Russian President Vladimir Putin made an effort to reassure that gay visitors to the Sochi Olympics are welcome in Russia. Along with this promise however, he added that gays must “leave the children in peace.”
After being asked questions by an Olympics volunteer during a visit, Putin vowed that gays face no discrimination in Russia and should feel “at ease.” Along with hat though he lumped homosexuality and pedophilia together.
“We have no ban on nontraditional sexual relations. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors,” he said.
Security has been increased in and around Sochi before the games. Security concerns have been a hot topic since back-to-back suicide bombings in Volograd, Russia. The bombings killed 34 and wounded 100 others on Dec. 29-30. The city is 600 miles from Sochi.
Three weeks after the bombing, Putin spoke to BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show where he said the international community should unite against terrorism. There was heavy police presence in the Black Sea resort as Putin arrived at the area on Friday.
Putin argues the Olympics will help Russia regain its pride after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia has come under international criticism for discrimination since it passed a law last summer outlawing “gay propaganda”. The legislation makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality. Critics say the amendment effectively makes any kind of public gay rights even in Russia impossible.
Around 6,000 athletes from 85 countries are expected to attend the games. Thousands from visitors from around the world will be attending as well. Originally planned to cost around $12 billion, the event has ballooned to $50 billion, including numerous infrastructure improvements around Sochi. It would be the most expensive.