13 February 2014


YOU can follow the Russian human rights saga playing out during the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 games on the Human Rights First RSS feed
Here is the latest update, and you can find more on this blog by doing a search for Sochi

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As our journey to Sochi began, U.S. Olympian David Pichler and I stopped by St. Petersburg, where we met with Russian LGBT activists Anastasia Smirnova, Igor Kochetkov, Maria Kozlovska and others. They told us that, despite the international attention generated by the Sochi Olympics, they were still anticipating an ongoing and increased backlash against Russia’s LGBT community.
The very next day, just hours before the Opening Ceremony, Russian police detained Anastasia and four other activists for holding posters that called for the Sochi Games - and for Russia - to uphold the Olympic Charter’s nondiscrimination clause, Principle 6.
While one may have thought these arrests could give pause to those fighting for equality in Russia, they did not.
When the Olympic torch leaves Sochi on February 23, Human Rights First’s attention to the human rights abuses in Russia will not go with it. President Obama appointed the right delegation to the Olympics. The United States needs to keep up that bold commitment in their diplomacy after Sochi too. We will continue to support Russia’s LGBT community by encouraging U.S. officials to continue engaging with activists and others facing the brutal consequences of Russia’s crackdown. We will also urge U.S. officials to continue raising concerns about the discriminatory anti-propaganda laws as part of its official engagement with Russia.
Russia’s LGBT community needs our support.
In the coming weeks, we will let you know how you can join us in our work to advance equality in Russia and beyond. In the meantime, you can continue to follow developments and read more about our experiences on the ground here.
Shawn Gaylord
Human Rights First
P.S. Take a stand for equality by making a donation to Human Rights First and receiving our “Sochi. Equality.” embroidered knit hat as a gift of our appreciation.

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don't, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.