Russians change mind for 4th time, now claim won’t jail gays during Olympics

Reflecting growing apparently turmoil in the Kremlin and the Russian legislature, a Russian legislator claimed today that Russia will not jail gay Olympic athletes and guests during the 2104 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

This came a day after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the Russians would in fact jail any gays that flaunted their homosexuality in public..

As for the Sports Minister, his comments came only days after a local Russian legislator, responsible for a similar anti-gay law in St. Petersburg, also said that Russia would jail gay Olympians.

MOSCOW - MAY 28: Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. (kojoku /

MOSCOW – MAY 28: Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. (kojoku /

And all of this came on the hells of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) saying last week that it had kinda sorta received promises that the Russians wouldn’t enforce the draconian anti-gay law during the Olympics.

Are you confused?  You should be.

The only apparent sense that can be made out of the multiple contradictory Russian positions on whether or not the Russians will be jailing gay Olympic athletes and guests during the Sochi games is that apparently you won’t get jailed on a Friday, but you might on a Thursday, and most definitely will on a Wednesday.

And if that isn’t bad enough, there’s no apparent word from the Russians, or the IOC, on whether the Russian authorities plan to continue letting vigilante groups kidnap and torture, on film, during the Olympic Games.  So far, the Russians have shown no interest in arresting the perpetrators, who lure anti-gay teens via Russian social media sites.

Hopefully the IOC and the Kremlin can get back to us on whether kidnapping and torture is off-limits too during the games.

Or maybe they’ll just call it a new sport: Synchronized Gay-bashing.  Because it’s certainly being synchronized by someone in a seat of authority.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | 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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69 Responses to “Russians change mind for 4th time, now claim won’t jail gays during Olympics”

  1. Michael Abracham says:

    Do it, Canada! Do it!

  2. Michael Abracham says:

    *heels, not hells. And I don’t think you meant to write that they lure anti-gay teens. It is the gay teens these thugs lure into being beaten up and abused.

  3. Whitewitch says:

    As an Wiccan – I would not go there…period. I would prefer not to be burned at the stake in this century.

  4. tomtallis says:

    In other words the Russian government is an even bigger cluster-fuck than we thought.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yeah but they didn’t arrest Madonna for supporting Pussy Riot and blaspheming. They are such sell-outs. Anything American is hated, yet used for good press and money. The Olympics sponsors, concerts, Western movies, etc. And you can be sure they WON’T protect tourists from skinheads, just take their damn money.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That would be awesome.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hot gay guys are impending on his beard marriage. “If I can’t have them, nobody will!”

  8. Anonymous says:

    He can’t stop paying attention, and one has to wonder why. I don’t visit blogs about left-handed people all day, or bitch about how they need “special desks.”

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think most people blabber on about those they find attractive. With your insecurities, I’m sure you point out HOW attracted you are to the opposite sex 50x a day.

  10. Anonymous says:

    At this rate, the 100th time they decide will be the night before the games!

  11. karmanot says:

    Well done Fixer!

  12. emjayay says:

    And that wouldn’t be easy. Maybe Germany and France should try some of that fracking stuff.

  13. emjayay says:

    I suppose this is obvious, but calling off the dogs (or not, or whatever) on international visitors in Sochi isn’t really the issue. It’s just a rather laughable attempt by various Russian officials to try to put a bandaid on it and enable the Olympics to go on profiting tourism and more importantly promoting the image of Russia.

  14. Keith O'Connor says:

    You’re doing a great job covering this, John. I certainly appreciate it. This is going to be the gayest Olympics evah! And that’s so nice.

  15. kmcdevitt says:

    Yup. Too true. Checked him out too late… Ah well . . . next time, I’ll ignore him more aggressively. lol

  16. FLL says:

    Aside from secular people, I’m not even sure how comfortable members of non-traditional religions, like Wiccans, are feeling in Russia today.

  17. The_Fixer says:

    Oh, I checked out his profile. He’s a right-wing extremist troll.

    So yes, he did come here to “Schnozzle” (which is a great word, by the way!).

    So I guess we have to stop feeding him, right? I fell for it, will have to remember to look at some profiles and the comments that these people make before wasting time on them.

  18. kmcdevitt says:

    What does this comment have to do with John’s post? Anything? Or did you just stop by to be a schnozzle? You might notice that the original post, and all the other comments have to do with being gay IN RUSSIA, the current political and social situation there, and how it all relates to the upcoming Sochi games. The only one restricting themselves to comments dealing solely with sexual orientation is you. More than a tad pathetic, in addition to suggesting that you are intolerant, despite your opening statement of apathy, this seems to also indicate that you have problems with reading comprehension.

  19. FLL says:

    You’re assuming that most of the people commenting would not bother posting any comments if the story were about Jews or Muslims or a racial minority being physically attacked in the streets and jailed, all with the blessings of the government. I don’t think you can make that assumption. You might be surprised that many commenters would object to this kind of abuse that was aimed at groups that they are not members of. Unlike you, you pathetic schumck.

  20. ericxdc says:

    i hope you do realize we’re not doing this specifically for you, les. that’s a bit grandiose of you, don’t you think? Really. We’re not. Perhaps if you stop paying attention to the gay stories we may bother you a bit less. just a suggestions.

  21. Whitewitch says:

    Wow that is so scary…and sad really really sad.

  22. ericxdc says:

    hey les… you really need to stop reading the all the postings on gay related topics. There’s plenty of other stuff out there for you to look at. Really, les, the internets is a big place with stories about a lot of different things. Stop lurking around the gay related stories if it “bothers” you so much.

    But, deep down, I think it doesn’t bug you at all. you like it. probably a lot.

  23. Whitewitch says:

    After checking out your other posts it seems anyone who does not believe, live, breath and act exactly as you is impending on your very existence….you should work on that – there is a world of different kinds of people with different beliefs on this planet…if you stopped hating you might actually find it enjoyable.

  24. Whitewitch says:

    I am hoping that the games are moved…I know it is not likely…however – one can always hope.

  25. emjayay says:

    I’m sure Canada could have the Canadian Circ de Soleil people throw something together.

  26. lynchie says:

    Because it is about the money. The various governments don’t care about people losing their rights they only care about the bags of cash that flow to them.

  27. Monoceros Forth says:

    Yup, because following and passing on news about people getting beaten up and jailed is all just to annoy you with reminders of our sexual orientation, no other reason. Schmuck.

  28. The_Fixer says:

    Not to mention the roving gangs of vigilantes. Even if Putin made some public proclamation against anti-gay violence (unlikely), they’d probably take that as a wink and a nod to continue what they’re doing.

    If I was a gay athlete, or even an ally, I would not feel safe there. Too many wild-cards and conflicting statements from various officials.

  29. The_Fixer says:

    Apparently, you do care that I’m gay.

    Reminding you? Hell, you came to this site, sought out this story and made further effort to comment on this article.

    Apparently, in spite of your reading these stories, you haven’t gotten the point. Although it is a significant part of my person, my sexual orientation doesn’t define me. That’s the point we’re trying to make. Those who do care about my sexual orientation are</em defining me my by that one trait.

    If you truly don't care about my sexual orientation, perhaps you should find better things to do with your time.

  30. Skeptical Cicada says:

    The Canadian Foreign Minister just dismissed the idea of a boycott and said the Games should go forward unchanged. Disappointing capitulation from Canada.

  31. Skeptical Cicada says:

    What’s pathetic is your obsessive bigotry.

    Sorry you don’t like gays being open. Get over it.

  32. Les Morpions says:

    I don’t care that you’re gay. Please just quit constantly reminding me that your sexual orientation defines you. If that’s all you have, then it seems a tad pathetic.

  33. FLL says:

    The icing on the cake. Apparently, the Russian legislature has passed a second law, which is a real jaw-dropper for secular people. The new report (here is the link) from Frommer’s, the travel website and publisher:

    The second law, prohibiting anti-religious arguments, seems an enlargement of the law against “hooliganism” that recently caused three members of the Russian feminist singing group called Pussy Riot to each be sentenced to two years in prison. Their particular offense was criticism of President Putin, although references were also made during their trial to “blasphemous” statements by them about the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Russia has won the triple crown:

    (1) Gay people and their allies will be arrested and prosecuted for anything construed as pro-gay.

    (2) Black team members from other countries who participate in sports tournaments in Russia are subject to people showing up at games wearing Ku Klux Klan masks, shouting “monkey chants” at them and using Nazi salutes and slogans. (Follow the link here.)

    (3) Anyone (including tourists and visitors) can be arrested and prosecuted for making “anti-religious arguments,” which are defined as anything the current leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church considers blasphemous.


  34. Bj Lincoln says:

    I don’t care what they say at this point. I like that the Russian government and Stoli are trying so hard to keep the games from turning into a total bust. I think they understand the world knows about these horrible laws and will not put up with this brand of discrimination. Putin is not too bright to have outlawed everything gay just before the world is coming to his country for the games. Did he truly believe the rest of us would think this was a good idea?

    I don’t think they can be trusted to keep people safe in light of the violence against LGBT people so I am boycotting the games and all sponsors for my own personal statement.

  35. Pat says:

    Well there was also a lot of controversy about the 2008 games with human rights violation in tibet and china in general, with even heads of states threatening to cancel their presence. It’s not like it gad any effect. So hoping for a cancellation this time is just wishful thinking.

  36. Pat says:

    well, the following a World Cup (2022) is in Qatar where gay rights are no better, and FIFA’s president has already simply warned gay visitors will have to be careful. So FIFA doesnt give a damn either, like IOC…

  37. lynchie says:

    Are you volunteering to be part of the test group? Getting arrested in a foreign country especially Russia is not like whatever town you live in. I have been to Russia. They follow their laws and don’t really give a shit what you think. Snowden got asylum because Vlad could poke Obama in the eye. I wouldn’t take that chance

  38. lynchie says:

    Too true.

  39. lynchie says:

    The IOC cares about money, not politics, not the athletes, not civil rights violations, nothing but money. Their reputation dates back to Avery Brundage. He determined there was no problem in Nazi germany in WWII, but was part of stripping Jessie Owens 4 medals because after the games Owens accepted money for appearances, yet he gave a total pass to Russia’s providing, housing, salary, etc for their athletes. He threatened to throw the U.S. out of the Olympics if Tommy Smith and John Carlos were not expelled and sent home. So the history of the IOC is sketchy at best.

  40. cole3244 says:

    everyone in positions of power and authority are more concerned with money than any thing else and that includes the religions.

  41. mark_in_toronto says:

    Rainbow ribbons and “gaying-up” the Olympics will only cause MORE people to watch and therefore bring the host and sponsors even more money. Not to mention the train wreck that will ensue.
    A total cancellation is the ONLY way. Another country (here in Canada perhaps) can easily host in 2015. What’s the big deal if it’s a year later? Better than the alternative.

  42. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Andy Towle is reporting on a fresh set of anti-Gay violence over in Russia. How much you want to bet that even though the attack was captured on video, that no jail time will happen to the attackers?
    There should be a new demand. All Russian Paratroopers should be barred from Sochi as they have a history of attacking peaceful Gay persons. Its about safety right?

  43. Randy Patton says:

    The last “official” was the deputy director of a very minor committee in the government. He didn’t really offer anything concrete, he just said “we will do the best we can” to honor the politics of the Olympics. (Meaning no one would be persecuted, we assume.) I think that we should wait for the word from Putin. No one else’s word means anything.

  44. RyansTake says:

    Let’s take the word of the Minister of Sports and assume they *will* be jailed. Certainly, not protected from the roaming anti-gay mobs attacking gay people all over Russia.

    These Olympics must be cancelled.

  45. Thom Allen says:

    That would be the ideal for the IOC. The IOC is charged with NOT allowing discrimination. Yet their response has been at best, tepid. I think they’re much more concerned with the cash that the Olympics brings in.

  46. cole3244 says:

    the russians will obviously say anything to save the games but their word is useless once the games begin and even less believable once the games are over, trust and verify but in this case you can throw trust out the window.
    the ioc can’t in good conscience hold games in a nation where there is the slightest chance any person might be jailed because of their preference whether an athlete, spectator, or russian citizen, to do so would irreparably harm the ioc’s reputation and standing in civilized nations and that’s a blue sky that’s hard to replace if ever.

  47. Houndentenor says:

    Can they guarantee that some local authority won’t arrest athletes the day of their qualifying trials? We need more than just someone’s “word”. I’m not sure what that would be, but it needs to be more than platitudes.

  48. FLL says:

    It gets even worse for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Black players from other countries are treated to people showing up at games in Russia wearing Ku Klux Klan masks and shouting “monkey chants” at them:

  49. Houndentenor says:

    What could they say at this point to make anyone feel confident that they won’t inflict the anti-gay bigotry on visitors that they do on their own citizens? Why would be trust them.

  50. Ninong says:

    The building is not 8 million square feet. Eight million square feet would be 183.65 acres! So that’s probably the size of the land that the building sits on. If the building were 8 million square feet, it would be more than eleven times the size of Versailles.

    I don’t think he should be known as Czar Vladimir, I think he should be called Czaritza Vladimira — Царица Владимира.

  51. Stratplayer says:

    Well, the people who have a bit of sense left are obviously starting to panic, and that’s a good thing. This is going to to get very interesting.

  52. Thom Allen says:

    I wonder if any of the officials who have spoken out actually have the authority to direct the police to do anything. My gut feeling is that the Minister of Sport, a member of the legislature and others are just politicians. Much as the Republicons here would bash abortion, gays, immigrants, Democrats and other groups. I think that the real power is held by a few. And if they decide to not enforce the anti-gay laws, that’s what will happen. But they’ll be no real changes. Russian LGBTQs may have a respite during the Olympics, but I’m sure that it will start all over when the Olympic Torch goes out.

    We need to continue putting pressure on the Olympic sponsors: Coca Cola, Proctor and Gamble abd others. Also, the companies who have large economic stakes in Russia, the IOC, the UN, the US government (Obama, State Department, Congress) and other governments that are supportive of LGBTQ issues.

  53. mike31c says:

    I don’t believe you bigoted russian pigs.

  54. Tom Chicago says:

    The clumsy diplomatic pirouettes and the talking out of both sides of the mouth are the results of the international outrage at the regime of Rats Putin. We need to keep watching (as much as is possible through an Iron Curtain) what goes on outside of the Olympic Village between now and November, and in the days after the party when they think nobody is watching so closely.

  55. FLL says:

    All the more reason to organize a boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia—and there’s plenty of time. In my comment above, I quote what some black soccer players from Britain have to say about the outrageous amount of racist abuse that black athletes from other countries are subjected to in Russia.

  56. Brian Stroup says:

    Someone needs to take those horrible photos and videos and hack into NBC’s feed during the opening ceremonies.

  57. Drew2u says:

    Does anyone actually care about air pollution in Hong Kong anymore? Of course not.

  58. Drew2u says:

    Even if so, there’s no time to set up an Opening Ceremonies spectacular and I doubt the IOC will go without the home-nation putting on some kind of spectacle.

  59. Drew2u says:

    Wanna bet there will be a large viewership of the olympics to begin with as people tune in to see protests or other titillating footage before numbers drop off; FOX will then start making comments about “how bad MSNBC’s numbers are” and how “NBC is ruining the Olympics” and “nobody watches (MS)NBC”. Oh, btw: how dare those gays taint the meaning of the Olympics by trying to be treated justly and equally; shame on them for trying to divide people during events of unity.

    By the way, the IOC – just to reiterate – is a private for-profit corporation that will do what it pleases and try to mitigate any PR disasters as they come, not beforehand.

  60. FLL says:

    The Winter Olympics in Sochi may wind up being a disaster (unless the IOC pulls off a long shot and can move the Games to Vancouver). The looming disaster is partly because of the short time frame. But guess what has a nice long time frame? The 2018 World Cup in Russia. If athletes and visitors can’t wear the rainbow flag in Moscow and Sochi this February without fear of arrest, there is no way Russia should hang on to the 2018 World Cup, and there’s plenty of time until 2018 to change the arrangements. In fact, there is so much time until 2018 that the international community could make the Russian 2018 World Cup contingent on the Russian government repealing its anti-gay hate law. The current regime in Russia may be on its way to becoming an international pariah.

  61. FLL says:

    Wouldn’t it be grand if Canada could pull it off? There would have to be a successful boycott of the sponsors, successful enough to convince the IOC.

  62. LeeDorsey says:

    BUT THEN did you see David Mixner’s piece on the little advertised fact that PUTIN is, of course, in deed, if not name now CZAR Vladimir (the Tiny) …He had piece up on his ONE BILLION dollar, 8 MILLION sq foot Summer Palace.
    So I really do believe it is up to whichever hormone he gets more of when Olympics begin.

  63. UncleBucky says:

    No, to hell with it.

    1) Boycott every company associated with this mess.

    2) Wake up the people and cleaners in Vancouver. Get the portapotties ordered.

    3) O, Canada!

  64. UncleBucky says:

    They won’t blah blah blah when anyone’s looking…
    Russian vigilante: “Bawt luuk overrr dare!!!”

    [sounds of violence]

  65. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    I’m confused. I think the only way to figure what the real story is there is to send a few tourists over to ‘test’ the situation. Here’s the idea. Announce publically that people are going and send the press to test it out. Three weeks before the games sounds like a good test. Don’t tell the Russians who the testers are but let the IOC, Interfax, the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations office, Mr Milanov, and NBC that testing will take place. Here are the tests.
    1) Moscow. Many tourists going to Sochi will be stopping off in Moscow. I think a good test would be to start there. 20 or so people wearing rainbow colored jackets will spend a day on the way to Sochi using public transport and visiting the sights in Moscow (with the press of course). I’ll bet they don’t make it out of customs.
    2) Sochi – Assuming there isn’t a problem in Moscow, the group should then move on to test the situation in Sochi.
    Also, regardless of any tests by foreigners, I think all media should ensure that Nikolai Alekseev’s planned test in Sochi the day before the opening ceremony should be fully covered by the press
    Since a Gay space was denied by the Russian Government and the IOC (remember Pride House was banned) announce that at 5pm everyday in the during the Olympics in the main square of Sochi, Gay people and their supporters will meet under a large Gay Pride flag to simply enjoy each other’s company. There are no Gay bars in Sochi, there are no Gay spaces in Sochi. But all that will be going on is a nice meeting under a gay pride flag. In full view of the Russian press, the Russian Orthodox Church, Milanov, and the worlds press. Certainly, we would be criticizing Milanov, Putin, Kiril and the IOC for endorsing the abuse of Gay persons while there as well.
    Russia is in a tight spot. They’ve got the World Cup to worry about after Sochi. Any consequences against any Gay person during or after the games should cause massive calls to move the World Cup.
    The games aren’t going to be cancelled. Lets make them the Gay Games. To be sure, there is a danger. Most likely, we won’t even be admitted to the country (which of course should start massive outrage with IOC).

  66. iamlegion says:

    What’s going to happen is that they’ll ship all the “brownshirts” out of the area of Sochi for the duration and clamp down on reporters in any other part of the country. Until then (and immediately after) gays will continue to be beaten and killed. And no one will do anything, because money.

  67. FLL says:

    Foreign athletes may or may not be safe in Sochi. (We’ll find out.) Russian citizens will definitely be unsafe until the anti-“propaganda” law is repealed and authorities put an end to the campaign of vigilante pogroms rather than tacitly supporting it. Hence the boycott of all Russian products until all of this is redressed. European nations will have to decide whether they want to boycott the most important and lucrative product: oil and natural gas from Russia.

  68. BeccaM says:

    I think we can take one deputy chairman legislator’s claim as to what law enforcement and the administrative ministers will be ordering with a very large grain of salt.

    EVEN IF they announce a formal suspension of their anti-gay pogrom during the games, this still doesn’t change one whit the injustices now being faced by Russian gay and trans citizens.

    – Their law enforcement continues to look the other way (or participates) in extremely violent assaults and kidnappings of gay Russians.
    – They’ve made it illegal, punishable by fines and prison time, merely for someone to say they don’t think it’s wrong to be gay.
    – They have already banned adoptions of Russian kids by gay parents, and to countries that allow for same-sex marriage, and have openly floated the proposal to take away all children currently being raised by gay and lesbian parents.

  69. FLL says:

    English: Trust, but verify.
    Russian: Доверяй, но проверяй.
    (The saying actually rhymes in Russian.)

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