Russia’s Antigay Law Colors Sochi Olympics

Greenpeace Stages Vigils For Activists Held In Russia On Piracy Charges

We have to be cautious about what we say.” Fellow skater Agnes Zawadzki went even further, professing an ostrichlike hope that the potential distraction would not intrude on her preparations. “I’m not there to make a difference,” said Zawadzki, 19. “I want to focus on myself and what I have to do well to compete well at the Olympics.” The Russian law outlaws any attempt to expose minors to information portraying gay relationships in a positive light. Its provisions mandate a hefty fine and up to 15 days in prison for violators, including non-Russians. Part of the dilemma confronting the USOC is the fact that the International Olympic Committee charter, while outlawing racial, religious, and sexual discriminations, contains no specific language on gay bias. The charter does, however, ban any “political, religious or racial propaganda,” threatening violators with expulsion. USOC officials said that while the United States would not likely join any official public protest, it would support amending the charter to add an antigay provision. “First and foremost, we’re a sports organization, and we’re the only organization in the world whose job it is to make sure American athletes get the chance to compete in the Olympic Games,” Blackmun said. “We’re not an advocacy organization or a human rights organization. “But we are a part of the Olympic movement, and what we can do is advocate for change. Anything we can do within the international and U.S. Olympic movement [we will].

Gay activists hold rainbow flags as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis´ museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. A few dozen gay activists peacefully protested at Russia’s restrictive laws against “homosexual propaganda” as the Olympic flame made its way through central Athens ahead of its handover to the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

A court in Russia’s northwestern region of Murmansk has since charged all crew members — who come from 18 countries including Britain and the United States — with charges that carry jail terms of up to 15 years. The incident has set off a burgeoning diplomatic effort to secure the activists’ release despite Russia’s tough stance. The Netherlands broke more than two weeks of silence about the case on Friday by starting legal action aimed at quickly freeing the crew. Russia’s Meshkov fired back on Saturday that the Netherlands had been repeatedly warned about the dangers of the ship’s actions. “In the past year-and-a-half, Russia has asked the Dutch side on many occasions… to forbid this ship’s actions,” Meshkov told the RIA Novosti news agency. “Unfortunately, this was not done. So now we have many more questions for the Dutch than they have for us.” But several governments now appear ready to add the Greenpeace detentions to their grown log of complaints about Russia’s treatment of human rights issues under President Vladimir Putin. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she expressed concern about her country’s crew member during talks with another Russian deputy foreign minister on the sidelines of a regional forum in Bali. Bishop added that Australia was looking into whether the “very serious charge” was appropriate. The US State Department also said it was “monitoring the case very closely.” ‘Free the Arctic 30’ The Greenpeace crew includes a British videographer and a Russian freelance photographer who once worked for AFP. The ship was captained by Peter Willcox — a veteran US environmental campaigner who was also at the command of the Rainbow Warrior when that Greenpeace ship was bombed and sunk by French secret services in New Zealand in 1985. “The activists were taking a brave stand to protect all of us from climate change and the dangers of reckless oil drilling in the Arctic,” Greenpeace International’s executive Kumi Naidoo said on Saturday.

PM to embark on visit to Russia, China from Oct 20

The first leg from October 20 to 22 in Russia will see the Prime Minister holding talks on important issues such as nuclear cooperation, trade and defence. Dr. Singh will on October 22 travel from Moscow to Beijing where he is expected to articulate Indias concerns over trans-border rivers, trade deficit and boundary incidents. Significantly, after the recently-concluded India Russia Inter Governmental Commission meeting in Moscow, the indications are that the two countries have made progress to clear the nuclear liability issue, crucial for a contract for supply of Russian reactors for Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP). It is understood that hectic parleys were on to conclude the tehno-commercial negotiations for the Unit 3 and 4 of KNPP) ahead of Singhs visit and officials are hoping to ink it after the talks between the two sides. The effort is to basically match Indias Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CNLD) Act, 2010 and the internationally and nationally accepted principles. Another crucial issue would be Russias investment in telecom sector with Russian giant Sistema last week expressing unhappiness over telecom regulator TRAIs recommendations on spectrum auction, saying it created ambiguity and policy uncertainty that would adversely impact its investment plans. Dr. Singh is expected to assure Russian leader on this front. Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd, which offers mobile services under the MTS brand, has protested against TRAI recommendations that the spectrum used by CDMA operators should not be auctioned and a part of it be explored for use by GSM services. Related Content