Head of Sochi Olympics to the world: Stop picking on Russia

Dmitry Chernyshenko doesn't want outrage over Russia's crackdown on gay rights to ruin the Winter Games

By Katie McDonough
September 9, 2013 4:56PM (UTC)
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Protesters against the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Organizing chief of the Sochi Games Dmitry Chernyshenko is concerned that international outrage over Russia's recent crackdown on gay rights could ruin the Olympics, so he is asking the International Olympic Committee to intervene.

The IOC must “stop this campaign and this speculation” in response to the country's draconian new laws, Chernyshenko said on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.


In addition to being terrified of the potential fallout of growing calls for protest, the Sochi chief is also puzzled why people are so angry in the first place, since he says the new law criminalizing the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations" is not discriminatory and will actually have "no impact."

"The constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees equality of rights for everybody in the country," Chernyshenko said. "It explicitly prohibits any form of discrimination."

"We make this clear. This law recently passed does not prohibit homosexuality directly or indirectly. It does not contradict elements of the Olympic Charter. It will not stop 2014 proudly upholding the Olympic values," Chernyshenko added. "The law will have no impact for any guest visitor. Whether athletes or just fans or members of Olympic family, everybody is welcome to enjoy the fantastic Games."


Chernyshenko went on to echo Vladimir Putin's remarks from last week, arguing that criminalizing the public speech of LGBTQ people is fine, as long as you give them prizes!

Putin recently awarded "the highest Russian order" to a gay man, Chernyshenko noted. "This is a greatest example of diversity of our country."

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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2014 Sochi Olympics Anti-gay Laws Lgbt Rights Lgbtq Rights Russia Vladimir Putin