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MOSCOW, September 4. (Itar-Tass) – Vladimir Putin hopes that attempts to discredit Sochi Olympics will have no negative consequences, he said in an interview to Russia’s Channel One and Associated Press news agency.
Meeting with the LGBT community
Russia’s President also announced that he was willing to meet with representatives of the LGBT community ahead of the Games; however, they have not extended such proposals at this point of time. He urged not to overstate this issue in Russia: “If someone wants to meet with me, they’re welcome, but so far no one has offered to.” Putin added: “We have a lot of various groups, organizations, unions. Generally I meet with anyone who requests a meeting proposing to discuss a certain issue which they believe is important. So far no requests have been made. Why not?”
“I assure you, I work with such people, I sometimes award them with state medals and orders for their achievements in certain areas. We have absolutely normal relations, I don’t see anything special about it,” the president said, providing an example: “People say that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a homosexual; however, we love him not for this, but for him being a great musician; we love him for his music. So what? There’s no need to make a mountain out of a molehill, there’s nothing atrocious going on in our country.”
Putin noted that Russia has no laws against LGBT individuals, and the law on prohibiting gay propaganda against minors will have no negative effect on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Calls for boycotts
Previously several foreign officials and public figures called for boycotting the Olympics due to the “gay propaganda law.”
U.S. President Barack Obama raised the issue as well, saying he didn’t believe in validity of boycotting the Games; however, he did not rule out that some of LGBT athletes could bring home gold, silver or bronze medals, adding that if Russia has no homosexual athletes, it would make the national team weaker.
Scott Blackmun, head of United States Olympic Committee, stated: ““We fully support the comments today from President Obama rejecting calls to boycott the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Russia. They unite the world and break down barriers. The Games demonstrate how it is possible to compete fiercely but respectfully. As the president suggested, the diverse group of athletes representing our nation next winter makes us a stronger and a better Team USA.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stood against boycotting the winter Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi, a proposal which is voiced increasingly often by officials and LGBT activists across the world, concerned over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda among minors.
Speaking of the calls for boycott, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak earlier expressed hope that “this will never occur in the history of Olympic Games again.”
Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin advised sexual minorities to contact him if their rights are violated rather than to call for boycotting Sochi Olympics.
He noted that “we have the history of Games boycotts” and “we know that this did no good.” Over the ten years of his work as ombudsman he can recall only a handful of complaints about violations of LGBT rights. “When such complaints were filed we studied them most thoroughly,” he added.
The Russian Interior Ministry сonfirmed LGBT minorities would have no problems with the police either during the Olympic Games in Sochi or at any other time if they do not break the law prohibiting homosexual propaganda.