Obama-Putin summit canceled in part due to Russian gay crackdown, official confirms

An Obama administration official just confirmed to me that today’s sudden cancellation of President Obama’s anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during next month’s G20 meeting in Russia was in part due to the President’s concerns about the deteriorating gay rights situation in Russia.

The official told me that among the concerns leading to the cancellation of the bilateral meeting with Putin was the worsening human rights situation in Russia, which specifically included the Russian government’s recent crackdown on the gay and trans community.

Just last night on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, President Obama criticized Russia’s crackdown on its gay and trans citizens.

While it goes without saying that Russia’s treatment of NSA leaker Edward Snowden played a large part in the cancellation of the mini-summit, it also has been clear for a while that bilateral relations between the US and Russia have become increasingly strained on a number of issues, including the Syrian civil war and LGBT human rights.

So while no one is claiming that gay rights is the sole, or even lead, reason that the President canceled the Putin meeting, it is hugely significant that the administration is acknowledging that Russia’s draconian crackdown on gay and trans people figured into the President’s calculus at all.

It is not at all clear that the deteriorating gay and trans human rights situation in Russia was sufficiently on America’s radar screen even a few weeks ago.

It most certainly is now.

UPDATE: The White House just released a statement confirming that “human rights” played a part in the cancelation:


Office of the Press Secretary

August 7, 2013

Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Russia

Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September.  We value the achievements made with Russia in the President’s first term, including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea.  However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda.  Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.

The President still looks forward to traveling to St. Petersburg onSeptember 5-6 to attend the G-20 Summit.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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80 Responses to “Obama-Putin summit canceled in part due to Russian gay crackdown, official confirms”

  1. hadenough48 says:

    Russia’s don’t want anal rights.

  2. mpeasee says:

    I don’t think they need our religious crazies over there, they have their own. From what I know the ultra-orthodox christians are just as tyrannical as the religious right are here in the U.S. , and its now become a political fad for law makers in Russia to be seen with them during religious services. There has been some criticism that some of the big wigs in the church have been seen wearing super fancy watches, way out of their economical price range.

    Thats a pretty strong quote you have above, I would not condone such violence against anyones belief system, unless it was doing physical harm to others.

  3. Timothy Reynolds says:

    How many people honestly believe that *this* is why Obama cancelled the summit? Obama has been obsessed with Snoden for months. He never cared on bit
    about gay people before. So tell me, which is the more likely actual
    cause of this?

    He’s using this a cover to snub Putin over Snowden. So yeah people are going to down vote comments that are obviously full of it. You guys are getting played.

  4. mpeasee says:

    Have you ever had that feeling that you want to love someone; but you can’t, because they hurt your feelings and they take away your dignity; as a citizen? …what a dog and pony show. I wonder when gay brothers and sisters realize that at “what cost”?… it sucks to be whored out!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Gotta love the one person who voted down all the comments. You really showed us!

  6. kurtsteinbach says:

    You are raving….

  7. kurtsteinbach says:

    Russia is becoming the new Iran. Have they joined the Arab League yet? When does the Russian/New Soviet Nazi Party hold its first meeting? I know see how helpless the rest of the world felt in the 1930s as Nazi Germany marched towards genocide….

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    They’re correct. Democrats are wrong.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    Snowden is the sole reason the summit was cancelled. Stupid people like the editors and staffs of the Washington Post, the NY Times, the Guardian and the LA Times and HuffPo all disagree with you.

    If you imagine that Obama, the very recently rebranded and current bigot, is cancelling because Putin is more of a bigot you’re wrong. And if you believe anything anyone in the WH has said since Hiroshima you’re absolutely wrong and ignoring history. Early August marks the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, commemorating the almost half a million victims of the greatest single terrorist acts in history.

  10. 66Trey says:

    All news sites cite Snowden as reason.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    Snowden was the only reason. All the rest is excuse mongering.

    Putin is no more a fascist than Obama.

    Both are mass murderers and warmonger, Putin in Chechnya and Dagestan and Obama in the rest of the world. Both are effective opponents of civil rights and liberties and Obama is the worst president that regard since Truman with his loyalty oaths.

    Both are mad dog union busters.

    Why on earth do you imagine that Obama is critical of Putin. They’re the same animal – nationalist, racist, anti-worker and until very recently anti-gay.

  12. nicho says:

    BTW — don’t ignore the role of American evangelicals in the Russian anti-gay pogroms. Just as they’re supporting draconian anti-gay hate laws in Africa, the evangelicals are working hand-in-hand with the Orthodox church in Russia to oppress the gays there.


    This just gives you a glimpse of what we could expect if we allow these religious hate mongers to get the upper hand in the US.

    “Mankind will only be free when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

  13. cole3244 says:

    once the focus has passed things will return to normal and world takers will meet to carve up the spoils.

  14. nicho says:

    Neither — but thanks for playing. Try reading some of the interviews with him, and the you won’t embarrass yourself with your ignorance.

  15. emjayay says:

    Try just driving in Russia.

  16. emjayay says:

    Thank god I already bought my teevee and Blu Ray player. Whew.

  17. emjayay says:

    Oh, I never noticed those lines of tabs above!

  18. MyrddinWilt says:

    The human rights and civil society issues cover the anti gay attacks.

    Putin’s thugs also have a habit of murdering members of the opposition and there is the persecution of Pussy Riot.

    Obama is not going to cancel a summit over Snowden but it is the type of explanation the stupid US media can understand while the fact that the summit would be a waste of time is harder to explain.

    Obama was going to attend the summit despite Snowden up to yesterday. It might be a response to letting Snowden out of the airport but Obama must know that the US has its own defector from the KGB it granted asylum in the 1980s. The main thing that has changed in the past week is the videos of the Russian anti-gay went viral.

  19. Indigo says:

    The question is quickly coming around to . . . Why should I watch NBC?

  20. Indigo says:

    LOL !

  21. Naja pallida says:

    I would say the US is worse in one key way: because we demand to be recognized as superior. Nobody else walks around calling themselves the “land of the free”, while being so blatantly hypocritical. We continuously claim the moral high ground, when we too are murderous thugs on the world stage, ignoring our own laws and international treaties as the government sees fit. And then we get angry and lash out when people point out our hypocrisy.

  22. MyrddinWilt says:

    Snowden was the pretext, not the reason.

    If the US thought that there was a value to the US in holding talks with the Russians they would do so. Snowden is not at all important in comparison to the arms treaties etc. at issue.

    The real problem is that Putin’s government has been slowly turning fascist. They have three groups of modeled on the NAZI stormtroopers to ‘occupy’ the streets lest democracy break out. The groups are allowed to fund themselves through massive frauds on US banks. Russia is also the main backer of Assad’s regime in Syria.

    It is not just about the anti-gay attacks, but those are merely a symptom of something that is much larger.

  23. FLL says:

    Bryan Fischer is already doing it. (Here is the link to his YouTube video.) Cue the racist homophobes in the Tea Party:

    Putin’s white! Russia’s white! And they hate queers!

    But the language barrier and Russia’s failing economy prevent mass immigration of American Tea Party folks to Russia, so it’s off to that White Christian Identity bunker in northern Idaho.

  24. BeccaM says:

    Sadly, yeah…

  25. FLL says:

    To be entirely factual, Lady Gaga would have to run into Putin at some international venue in Western Europe and throw a cream pie in his face. Putin could be counted on to remark, “Well, at least it’s a fruit pie.”

  26. danolgb says:

    Love this. As most of the options are, it’s a long shot, but this clearly would be the strongest message possible.

  27. Annski1 says:

    He doesn’t care about us…It is “pink washing” : a political strategy aimed to promote a policy by appearing gay-friendly. Also used by corporations to market a product..

  28. Anonymous says:

    Yesterday it was “it’s not like they’re stoning them in public.” Today it’s “oops, didn’t see that coming.” I suspect this will be a trend. :/

  29. 66Trey says:

    Gay oppression? More like the president blowing the Snowden affair.

  30. BeccaM says:

    Oh, it’s also worth remembering: NBC, which still has a fair amount of control over MSNBC content, is the media sponsor and planned broadcaster for the Olympics.

    They have, so to speak, skin in the game and thus bias can probably be expected.

  31. BeccaM says:

    It’d be head-of-state immunity.

    The same immunity that should’ve been afforded automatically to the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, on his flight back home, regardless who he may or may not have had on his plane.

  32. BeccaM says:

    Use the Contact/Tips link above to send an email to let John know about this. He doesn’t always have time to read the comments.

    I saw that story, too, and realized Russia’s headlong devolution into total anti-gay pogrom is continuing unabated. One thing I’m wondering about is whether they’re moving on the rumored plans to pass a law taking children away from gay/lesbian parents.

  33. Anonymous says:

    John Aravosis did you see this? Stop the presses. They now want to WHIP gays in PUBLIC. http://instinctmagazine.com/post/russian-mp-pushes-law-allowing-public-whipping-gays

  34. BeccaM says:

    Major Sochi 2014 corporate sponsors who do business in the U.S. include: Coca-Cola, NBC, Comcast (NBC’s parent company), GE, McDonalds, VISA, Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical, Kasperksy Lab, Samsung, Panasonic, and Volkswagen.

    Let’s make it about money, shall we?

  35. Indigo says:

    Snowden is the constant-du-jour. That has nothing to do with factual reporting or background information, it’s the constant-du-jour, nothing more.

  36. Indigo says:

    That is not entirely factual. We’ve heard nothing so far from the Russian government about the benefits of Florida orange juice. ;-)

  37. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama isn’t interested in the repeal of anti-gay laws like Democrat Bill Clintons or those in Russia. Why would such a discussion ever take place?

  38. Bill_Perdue says:

    Start campaigning for divestment from companies like Coke and NBC is you want to see that happen.

  39. Bill_Perdue says:

    And a war criminal, a union buster and someone who ordered the racist murders of Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed, one a sixteen year old boy born in Denver, Colorado, killed for being an Arab/muslim.

    Below is a video regarding the lawsuit by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU regarding Obama’s ordering the racist murder of Abdurrahman Anwar Al-Awlaki. occupied pictured below.


  40. Drew2u says:

    Question: Would Obama have been arrested if the meeting took place and they did discuss the anti-gay laws or would he have diplomatic immunity?

  41. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama is a war criminal and Snowden exposed that as did gay/antiwar hero Brad Manning. Manning was tortured and railroaded for his heroism and who knows what Obama would do if he was able to kidnap Snowden.

    Putin and Obama are the same kind of misleaders. They have more in common than they have differences. One difference is that Obama is a rebranded bigot and Putin is an open bigot.

  42. Bill_Perdue says:

    The overriding reason for the cancellation of the summit talks was the granting of temporary asylum to Snowden. All the other reasons listed by the WH are very secondary. They said “Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. “That’s a lie. It was the only real factor.

    “President Obama will cancel a planned meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid mounting anger over Russia’s decision to allow National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden into the country, the White House said Wednesday.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-cancels-upcoming-meeting-with-putin/2013/08/07/0e04f686-ff64-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html

    The NY Times and most news outlets came to the same conclusion. It was their rage about asylum for Snowden. That was the same rage that was expressed in the torture and ‘conviction’ of gay and antiwar hero Brad Manning.

    If Obama gave a damn about our rights he wouldn’t have cultivated bigots like Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin, he wouldn’t have galvanized the bigot vote in 2008 saying ‘gawd’s in the mix’, he wouldn’t have defended DOMA and DADT for most of his first term, he’d have made sure that ENDA passed and DOMA was repealed in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats had more than enough votes to do so and he’d be offering permanent asylum and welfare to refugees from Iraq and Ira, Uganda and the RF.

  43. nicho says:

    Follow the money. Follow the money. Follow the money. The Olympics are all about money. All the blather about “sportsmanship,” “fellowship,” “peace” is just crap.

  44. nicho says:

    He sought asylum in the US?

  45. nicho says:

    Obama is a fraud.

  46. nicho says:

    Bingo. It just figured it could piggyback some other issues on as a PR stunt. After all, the Obama brand is nothing but a giant PR stunt.

  47. BeccaM says:

    Or maybe the other stuff was tacked on as an afterthought and the Administration is still almost entirely pissed about Snowden and nothing else.

  48. jomicur says:

    Why not ask your question of Brad Manning? And be sure to get back to us with his response. Oh, and rest easy knowing that the NSA will take note of your communications with him.

  49. Drew2u says:

    MSNBC just mentioned gay rights as, “We do business with China and they don’t have a great human rights record, either”.
    So there goes the idea that the cancelled summit has anything significantly to do with the anti-gay laws. Or maybe this White House is just bad on messaging.

  50. B00ZED says:

    win his battle in the court of public opinion? sort of like Manning? Public opinion means nothing to this administration regarding whistle blowers.

  51. gaylib says:

    You really think the US is a worse violator of human rights? Well go try Russia as a gay person and then report back, m’kay? Do svidanya!

  52. gaylib says:

    As I said, not very bright or extremely naive.

  53. BeccaM says:

    As I noted above, then the targets are clear: The corporate masters.

  54. BeccaM says:

    Like I said, I’m sure America’s anti-gay bigot and hate groups are splooging themselves with glee at what Russia’s doing and the stated reasons why, as it’s exactly the kind of pogrom they dream about enacting here.

  55. MichaelS says:

    Agreed. And, btw, where are our European allies, all those countries that are actually MORE progressive than the US? How many EU nations are still doing robust trade with Russia?…

  56. MichaelS says:

    The IOC has banned other countries in the past for discrimination. They should ban Russia. There’s precedent. They’re just too cowardly and beholden to their corporate masters to act in this instance:


  57. FLL says:

    The Russian government has plagiarized Anita Bryant’s 1977 Save Our Children campaign in its entirety.

  58. jomicur says:

    He originally wanted to go to Latin America, and the Obama administration blocked every venue there. Ultimately Obama left him no choice but to remain in

    Russia. And now the administration’s supporters are slamming him for…remaining in Russia. Another classic example of the hypocritical hope and change Barry brought us.

  59. MichaelS says:

    Why isn’t the IOC doing what the IOC is supposed to do??


    There’s precedent for it, it’s been done before: http://www.outsports.com/2013/8/6/4592208/ban-russia-winter-olympics-gay-lgbt-boycott

  60. jomicur says:

    “a country that tortures, attacks, and violates the human rights of its own citizens” No, dear, he LEFT the US.

  61. jomicur says:

    The MSM has one, and only one, very narrow slot for LGBT people, and there’s no room in that slot for anything seriously political, much less anything touching on human rights in a substantial way. We are about love, sex and relationships, and that’s that. Take a look at the trailer for the upcoming Sean Hayes sitcom on NBC if you don’t know what I mean. How could a cutesy-poo, touchy-feely character like that have anything to do with serious political issues? It’ll be a long, long time before we see another ANGELS IN AMERICA (and it won’t be on NBC when it comes).

  62. BeccaM says:

    …runs straight into the arms of a criminal and a thug

    Just sayin’, but it’s not like Snowden had that many destination choices when fleeing from Hawaii, nor when moving on from Hong Kong. In fact, his fate — whatever you may think about him — appears from the start to have been one of rapidly diminishing options and forced decisions.

  63. BeccaM says:

    …and the pleas not to pressure the Dems after the 2010 mid-terms to repeal DADT, because apparently we gays were responsible for the losses and it’d make ’em look bad. And the pleas not to challenge DOMA because everybody knew the Supes would uphold it and “set the cause back years, if not decades.” And the pleas not to pressure Dems — including the President — to stand up for LGBT civil rights because it’d hurt them in elections…

    Being quiet, polite, patient, and compliant gets ya nothing. Nothing but the occasionally assurance that the Powers That Be will get around to dealing with their repeatedly broken promises to you, eventually, someday, just not now. Never ‘now.’

  64. Monoceros Forth says:

    Vince Foster, of course.

  65. gaylib says:

    The men in black in the silent black helicopters. Didncha get the memo?

  66. BeccaM says:

    Let’s be clear here: The ‘in part due to the Russian gay crackdown’ is barely a footnote as yet.

    I just spent the last 10 minutes browsing the major media outlets — MSNBC, CNN, ABC, and yes, even Faux News — and they are unanimous in headlining that the main articulated reason for the canceled summit was because of Snowden. None of them even mention Russia’s newly enacted anti-gay pogroms.

    All of them repeat the official WH statement: “Given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda.”

  67. B00ZED says:

    I wonder who’s raising a stink over the strange deaths and suicides in the USA related to people who share information that is embarrassing to the federal guvment?

  68. gaylib says:

    Meh. Who knows. I don’t know him from Adam, and what little I do know suggests he’s either not very bright, or extremely naive. I also have to question the character of someone who bases his reason for his action as a principled stand against governmental overreach and then runs straight into the arms of a criminal and a thug. A real good guy would stand up and face his accusers and win his battle in the court of public opinion, if not a court of law.

  69. Drew2u says:

    Those against the boycotts remind me of Scott Walker’s pleas to not recall him because, essentially, it wasn’t the polite thing to do.

  70. Drew2u says:

    Color me skeptical, but in reports that I’ve heard in “traditional media” all of the news excerpts are giving credit to the asylum of Snowden with no mention at all about the nazi-like laws against gay people, nor any mention of the Olympics.
    While I don’t doubt that the White House gave you information that the cancellation was also in part of human rights violation, if news outlets aren’t reporting it that way, then to the public it doesn’t exist.

  71. TeaTime says:

    In other words (yours), Obama SHOULD NOT have “[raised] a stink about the treatment of gays…” If he address the situation, he’s doing it for cover. If does not address the situation, he hates us and cares more about other traditional minority groups. You need a good PI attorney when reading some of you guys (whiplash).

  72. Reasor says:

    Of course he went to a country that wouldn’t extradite him and that the US wouldn’t dare invade. And of course Putin didn’t open his doors because he disapproves of domestic spying; of course he wants what Snowden has on America’s domestic surveillance apparatus. Snowden was a patriot for blowing the whistle, it’s disgraceful that he’s a hunted man for it, and he’s got every right to do what he has to in order to survive. There aren’t a lot of good guys in this story, but Snowden is one of the few.

  73. gaylib says:

    So he seeks asylum in a country that tortures, attacks, and violates the human rights of its own citizens? Color me unsympathetic.

  74. BeccaM says:

    As near as I could tell, most of those who objected to the idea of the boycott simply didn’t understand how and why boycotts can and do work.

  75. Reasor says:

    Raising a stink of the treatment of gays also gives the Obama administration cover for how upset they are that Putin gave some measure of asylum to a 4th Amendment violations whistleblower, who Obama wants captured, tortured, and convicted in another show trial. It’s all very convenient.

  76. BeccaM says:

    There’s another angle that isn’t even being mentioned in all these stories about the Russian anti-gay pogrom: The justifications being cited by the Russian government and their proxy neo-Nazi vigilantes as to why they’re doing it:

    – They claim there’s no such thing as being born gay.
    – They assert that children are ‘recruited’ into being gay, otherwise there would be no gay people.
    – Being a gay person is always a choice, it’s presumed to be morally reprehensible, and a deviancy from ‘normal’ human sexual behavior.

    – Flatly: Gay == Pedophile.

    It’s really not any different than the assertions of the American Christo-talibanists. In fact, most of them are pretty happy there’s a major near-superpower country out there which is enacting every one of their dream proposals regarding gay people, and for the same phony reasons they themselves will spout on American TV programs and in print.

    What the French homophobes are flirting with — that it’s simply bad for children to be raised by gay people — the Russians have embraced fully. If there is any doubt, look at the language of their laws: It’s illegal to say or show anything pro-gay anywhere there may be children present. They have severed all adoptions to countries that permit same-sex marriage. And as has been reported recently, they are seriously considering an additional law to remove all children — biological or adopted — from homes where there are gay people present.

    You cannot negotiate with someone who denies your basic humanity, your right to exist, and who hates you for reasons no more based in reality than the ones asserted by the Germans as to why they had to kill the Jews, the Romani, the imperfect… and yes, also the gays. It is not possible to negotiate when their position is you should be in jail, committed to a mental institution, or dead. There is no accommodating a country which has thrown out all the science of human sexual orientation and has instead embraced slander, lies, and scapegoating.

    The only moral thing to do, to ensure the safety of the athletes and the integrity of the Games (such as it is) is to move them to another host country. The IOC is already signaling they won’t do it, that they’ll instead impose gag orders and put people at risk of harm rather than take any kind of substantive stand as their so-called charter would require.

    The vodka boycott got this story into the news. Great. The IOC could do the right thing, but did we expect differently? They answer to no one but their corporate sponsors.

    I think the next targets for protests, lobbying, and public pressure should be obvious at this point.

  77. vonlmo says:

    So when is the protest @ the Russian consulate, in DC, & will Putin be burned in effigy?

  78. Yup ;) Seems that “ineffective” Russian vodka boycott is the gift that just keeps on giving :)

  79. StraightGrandmother says:

    It is on everyone’s Radar because we brought attention to Russia with the Russian Vodka Boycott

  80. Jim Olson says:

    The way to fix the Olympic problem is to put pressure on the US corporate sponsors that have LGBT protections in their policies. If one of these big companies decides that it is not going to be safe for their LGBT employees to work in Russia and pulls itself out, it will cause a cascade. We need just one of the big ones to decide to remove itself.

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