Was Coke implicated in Olympic arrest of rainbow flag-waving gay Russian?

Coca-Cola may have been implicated in the arrest earlier today of a Russian gay rights activist who was simply holding a small rainbow flag as the Olympic flame went by on the road.  The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia next month.

Pavel Lebedev was jumped by officials in official Olympic gear, later identified by the Associated Press as “Olympic security officials.”

What was not known at that time was that the standard uniform of the Olympic security officials who assaulted the civil rights advocate appears to sport the Coca-Cola logo.  Keep in mind that no one sports the Coca-Cola logo, or any other logo of an Olympic sponsor, without Coke’s explicit permission.

Here’s Lebedev being arrested.  Note the small grouping of white hexagons on his Olympic attacker’s leg.

coca-cola-olympics-1A Google search turned up other Olympic security officials at other Olympic flame events wearing the same blue and white uniforms and sporting the same white hexagons, such as this one, courtesy of Russian gas giant Gazprom:


You’ll note that the first hexagon in the photo immediately above appears to have the same logo as the man who attacked the gay rights advocates.  It’s the Sochi 2014 logo.

Now, on closer examination, look whose logo is also on the leg of the Olympic security agent just above:


I was unable to identity the other two logos alongside the Coke logo – if anyone can identity them, let me know.

In order to make sure different security agents weren’t sporting different corporate logos, I looked around and found additional Olympic security personnel – all of whom appear to have the exact same logos on their white hexagon, including the Coke logo. For example, here one on the man’s chest:


And here on another man’s leg:

coke-logo-5And here’s another from the Sochi Twitter feed at an entirely different event – while you can’t read the logos, the shapes and colors (red red blue) appear to be identical:


Whenever I found the white hexagons on a blue-uniformed Olympic security agent, and the logos were visible, the Coke logo was there.

Was the Olympic security agent who accosted a young gay civil rights advocate in Russia earlier today also wearing the Coca-Cola logo?

And just as important, if he was wearing the logo, why would Coke give permission for their logo to be worn by security agents that they must have known would eventually have run-ins with gay civil rights advocates?  It’s almost a given at this Olympics.

I asked Duncan Osborne, a spokesman for Queer Nation, that has been targeting Coca-Cola and other sponsors for their support of the Russian Olympics, for his take on all of this:

“The IOC and The Coca-Cola Company have been silent about the Russia government’s violations of human rights, including its attacks on LGBT Russians,” Osborne said. “And now the perpetrators of today’s assault are wearing the Olympic brand, and appear to be wearing Coke’s as well. It is past time for Coke and the IOC to speak out.”

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

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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45 Responses to “Was Coke implicated in Olympic arrest of rainbow flag-waving gay Russian?”

  1. Burzum says:

    Why do these sodomites always feel it’s necessary to perform and show off? This is a sports event, not a political or perversion platform.

  2. Zena Yoon says:

    Sadly, being homophobic in Russia doesn’t seem to hurt sales. If anything, it may make them better. Most Russians are homophobic to some degree and would rather support a homophobic company than a pro-equality one. :-(

  3. Zena Yoon says:

    This is not the first arrest of a gay rights activist. Natasha Tsymbalova of the Straights For Equality Alliance was detained in St Petersburg weeks ago. The police always make up some valid excuse though, like littering or smoking in a public place etc. I assume this particular activist will be fed up some line, too. If he ducked under the tape, that would do nicely.

  4. GreenHatMan says:

    You mouthbreathers.. The guy wasn’t simply “holding” the flag by the road, he run out on the road towards the flagbearer, which is the real reason he was detained, as anyone would be, flag or not. Quit putting the anti-gay spin on everything. When same protest was done without being a moron and overstepping boundries, nobody cared: http://i.imgur.com/ohCxNpJ.jpg

  5. NoBigGovDuh says:

    Maybe they should think more about the job of security and that they will be hurting people before sponsoring them.

  6. Anonymous says:

    A simple t-shirt with a “no” sign over these logos could help. Way too many people wear shirts with logos for free; it would be nice to see one that was scribbled on.

  7. patb2009 says:

    Coke like a lot of other companies sponsored the worker uniforms, in return
    for some placement, much like a Race Car. Coke just didn’t think the potential negatives outweighed the brand advertising in Russia.

  8. Kmac says:

    Oh John, I was on Raw Story and heard you were on a sunday bobblehead show with Jonah “Doughy Pantsload” Goldberg. I’m so, so, sorry.

  9. karmanot says:

    Looks very ‘Tom of Russia’ to me.

  10. karmanot says:

    “COKE macht frei”

  11. Mark Caponigro says:

    Thanks very much. Obviously this makes far better sense! : )

  12. Chr477 says:

    Dump coke protest?
    Where’s that BS PR speech from coke saying they respect LGBT and are so supportive of the community? Put this picture beside it.

  13. Kayaker says:

    If Coke Cola can get away with murdering union organizers and social justice advocates in S. America, I’m sure their complicity with Russian authorities arresting lgbt protesters is small potatoes to them. Sad, just damn sad.

  14. rich1103 says:

    Anything for a buck is Coca Cota is their motto.

  15. mark_in_toronto says:

    Just waiting to see when this ugliness will REALLY get ugly after the games start.
    If they’re doing this now, how could it possibly get any better?
    BTW . . . Those “security” outfits are pretty gay, aren’t they?

  16. jomicur says:

    So I guess languishing in a jail cell is now “the pause that refreshes.”

  17. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Only the Dasani that I mentioned. I used to occasionally get a Cherry Coke Zero, but I stopped that a few months ago.

  18. Drew2u says:

    You mean you don’t enjoy a bacardi-seagrams/schwepps every now-and-then? P’raps with a Minute Maid or Rockstar mixer? You don’t refresh yourself with an HonesTea, Powerade, Ice Mountain, Fuze, Dasani, or VitaminWater?
    Good for you!

  19. Drew2u says:

    I chose Pepsi because it’s the main rival to Coke. Any other product would suffice, other than Coke.
    RC Cola, according to the HRC, has a 70% rating, but coca-cola still has a 100% rating. I wonder when HRC’s going to speak about that.


  20. UncleBucky says:

    RC Cola? Are they among the good guys? I rather don’t like Pepsi, but would drink it in a Moscow second to spite Coca-Cola in this…

  21. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I really wish I had used more of their products, so I could stop. I really thought Dasani was one of their products. I do occasionally get one of those.

  22. Beth Equality Holden-Soto says:

    Not suspicious AT ALL. check the URL, you’ll notice there’s a right parentheses in the address that needs to be removed in order for the page to load properly. https://www.facebook.com/cocacola

  23. Ninong says:

    It’s Russian Railways: http://rzd.ru/

  24. HolyMoly says:

    All I see is “Sorry, this page is unavailable. The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.” Also a picture of a thumbs-up with a bandage on the thumb.

  25. Bill_Perdue says:

    Boycott Coke, NBC/MSNBC and all the other homophobic companies and politicians involved in the Sochi sham olympics

  26. Drew2u says:

    You’ve already bought the coke, so it doesn’t matter. Show your receipt for Pepsi or Dr. Pepper instead saying, “This would have been for Coca-Cola”.

  27. Drew2u says:

    Nope, it’s still there. There’s a section to a side for people who post about Coke. Scroll through that and there will be Teddy’s post.

  28. chris10858 says:

    Anyone have an email address for a couple of Coke execs? Come’on gay Coke employees (or moms who work at Coke and who have gay sons/daughters). Id love to send them a pic of my friends and I pouring out bottles of Coke in to the gutter.

  29. Jim Olson says:

    This page has already disappeared. Very suspicious.

  30. 4th Turning says:

    This link lists 21 coke products including minute maid, schweppes, bottled water, etc.

  31. Naja pallida says:

    It’s Ingosstrakh Insurance Company.

  32. teddy partridge says:

    Posted this to Coke’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cocacola) and asked if they sponsor anti-gay violence by Sochi “security guards” wearing their Coca-Cola logo. Thanks, John, great catch….

  33. nicho says:

    On a related note, a group of Eastern Orthodox have put out a hot, sexy Orthodox calendar to protest homophobia in the Orthodox church.


  34. jm2 says:

    The other two are in Cyrillic. @Slavecek is right that the smaller one is the Russian Railway. The other looks like Ингосстра́х; that is a Russian insurance company i’ve heard about. they’re traded on a lot of markets & i believe one of my funds has it. guess i better get rid of it!

    Coca-Cola is rank, but what about Mickey-D’s? they’re awfully quiet but aren’t they sponsoring as much as Coke & NBC? everything boils down to money. i also fear there is going to ge a big disaster, no matter what the security.

  35. Indigo says:

    Corporate globalism makes curious allies. And objectors. Clearly, Coke ist kaput.

  36. AdmNaismith says:


    Yeah, I really don’t think so, Coca Cola. Not any more.

  37. Mark Caponigro says:

    The logo in the lower right looks Hebrew, i.e. Israeli maybe: from right to left, tet-ayin-koph. G-d knows what that might mean, though.

  38. FLL says:

    Authentic Coca-Cola posters for Nazi Germany summer Olympic Games 1936:

  39. Slavecek says:

    The logo on the bottom right that looks like the letters “psa” belongs to the national rail company, Russian Railways (RZhD). I could not identify the upper right logo, I’m afraid.

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  41. karmanot says:

    Mein Coke

  42. Anonymous says:

    Wow, we were talking about protesters wearing the logo as a statement. Turns out people associated with Coca-Cola are digging their own PR graves. This is almost as bad as the WW2 advertising

  43. Ninong says:

    I think it just means that every time you buy a Coca Cola product you are helping pay the salaries of the security guards in Russia that will be beating up anyone who wears a rainbow flag pin or waves a little rainbow flag. Any young women who are thinking of painting their nails different colors of the rainbow should probably keep their gloves on.

  44. goulo says:

    Good spotting!

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