In the new but unfortunately not surprising development, authorities confirmed Aug. 12 that law enforcement officers would uphold Russia's controversial anti-gay legislation during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, RIA Novosti is reporting.
Following previous announcements from other high-ranking officials, the claim seems to confirm that despite international backlash, law enforcement will act in accordance with Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" legislation in terms of behavior regulation among foreign visitors.
In a statement quoted by RIA Novosti, Russia's Interior Ministry stated:
The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully.
Any discussion on violating the rights of representatives of nontraditional sexual orientations, stopping them from taking part in the Olympic Games or discrimination of athletes and guests of the Olympics according to their sexual orientation is totally unfounded and contrived.
An immense amount of back-and-forth has taken place between Russian government officials and representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as to whether the laws themselves would be in effect during the 2014 Winter Games. IOC officials summed up the media backlash against Russia's actions in a July 26 statement:
The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation...The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.
Vitaly Milonov, co-sponsor of Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" legislation, responded with a claim that the law would not be selectively enforced or suspended and those competing in or attending the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games would be held accountable under the new law.
Throughout this back-and-forth, individuals and groups have responded on an international scale. Bars are boycotting Stoli vodka, activst groups are protesting their events, and the company's CEO has spoken out publicly about their brand's involvement with the Russian government. Groups are petitioning that the U.S. boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics all together. Individuals are engaging in extreme forms of protest, including self-mutilation. President Barack Obama cancelled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and stated that he opposes the Olympic Boycott.
Prior to the announcement by Russia's Interior Ministry, Dmitri Kisilev, Deputy General Director of the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, stated on national television that following the death of a gay person, their heart "should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life."
It is difficult to discern what the next step will be by either Russian officials or the IOC. However, at least one thing does seem fairly certain: Russia is not going to budge.