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Russian Sports Minister Tells Reporters to 'Calm Down' About the Olympics and Anti-Gay Law

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who earlier this month warned that athletes would be subject to anti-gay laws, told reporters on Thursday at a press conference at a Moscow hotel for the world athletics championships that gay athletes and organizations should "be relaxed" about the country's anti-gay laws, but respect them.

MutkoReuters reports:

When asked how it would affect athletes competing in the championships beginning on Saturday and next year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Mutko was dismissive of any concerns.

"I want to ask you to calm down as in addition to this law we have a constitution that guarantees all citizens a private life," he told a packed news conference in a Moscow hotel. "It is not intended to deprive people of any religion, race or sexual orientation but to ban the promotion of non-traditional relations among the young generation. All the athletes and organisations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected...but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in."

IAAF president Lamine Diack completely rejected the world's concerns:

"I don't feel there is a problem whatsoever," he said. "There is a law that exists, it has to be respected, we are here for the world championships and have no problem whatsoever and I'm not worried at all."

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  1. Uh, NO. Get ready for a concerted campaign to discredit your country and turn the Olympics into a referendum on Russia abysmal human-rights record.

    Posted by: Chaz | Aug 8, 2013 1:00:13 PM

  2. The best way to rile-up a person is to tell them to "calm down."

    Posted by: me | Aug 8, 2013 1:01:23 PM

  3. IAAF president is a homophobe and must resign!!!

    Posted by: litper | Aug 8, 2013 1:05:54 PM

  4. Yeah, tell them to "calm down" and, basically, STFU. Don't rock our homophobic boat with comments or any kind of visibility and you'll be just fine in the closet we want you to stay in until you get the hell out of Russia. What a crock from this "Soviet" sports minister and IAAF. I think we're going to be guaranteed a rather interesting Sochi Winter Olympics. The more the Russians, IOC, USOC, NBCUniversal, et al push against the LGBT community, the more this community is going to push back against them. So, here we go.....

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Aug 8, 2013 1:06:12 PM

  5. I am sure the bastards who tortured the gay adolescents in Russia told them to calm down as they poured urine on them and humiliated them to the point of suicide. These people are assholes.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Aug 8, 2013 1:09:19 PM

  6. There is no change from what this idiot said before. A violation of human rights is unacceptable in ANY situation, ANY time, ANY place. Russia WILL be held accountable. The world is watching.

    Posted by: Bryan L | Aug 8, 2013 1:09:52 PM

  7. Yes, everyone should calm down. Just as the world remained calm and unconcerned about Germany's Nuremberg Race Laws during the 1930's. Just as Germany had to protect the children and the German race from the scourge of Judaism, Gypsies and homosexuals, Russia must now follow suit.

    Jews have become too powerful, Gypsies aren't that numerous and many people and nations abhor homosexuals, so he can get by scapegoating them. Putin is just another conveyor belt despot looking for a group that his ignorant people can use to divert their attention from his failures.

    Don't tell me to "keep calm", we've heard this before when the world was told people were being "relocated, re-educated" or whatever other euphemism for violating human rights and dignity is used. The world kept calm and refused to believe what was happening while over 6 million men, women and children literally went up in smoke. Keep calm my ass. Russia under Putin should be made an international pariah and the Olympics moved to a more civilized venue.

    Posted by: Bob R | Aug 8, 2013 1:14:32 PM

  8. Would you buy a used car from this man? Seriously, his assurances are hardly sufficient. I'm willing to bet real money that any visitor, athlete, official or spectator, that wears a rainbow pin, headband, kerchief or other article, will be promptly arrested, whether in a venue, on public transportation, at an airport, in a hotel, restaurant or out in the street. I'm with George Takei on this one: move the games to Vancouver, immediately.

    Posted by: RWG | Aug 8, 2013 1:16:09 PM

  9. The question is whether a "private life" means what it does in the West: is someone going to be arrested for going out to dinner with his boyfriend or for walking back home while holding hands or doing anything else that straight people do in public on a regular basis? If someone does well in an Olympic event and his boyfriend gives him a hug, will they be thrown into a Russian hoosegow? It depends on what they mean by "propaganda," and nobody really knows. It's not like people are planning on hanging out at the local high school to hand out fliers for a circuit party.

    If he wants to avoid the ridicule, he should start by answering such questions. If he doesn't, we'll assume the worst.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 8, 2013 1:18:17 PM

  10. This pisses me off. One, for telling people to relax when the situation is obviously one of of fear and uncertainty that is caused directly by the situation. Two, because he is making two statements (1) there are laws that guarantee a private life AND 2) there are laws against propaganda) that are meant to explain the situation but really contradict each other because we all know how both types of laws are interpreted and enforced in Russia. He is using double talk to try and trick gullible people. This is the kind of talk that is meant to reach conservative people who might be tempted to sympathize with the victims of the violence but then when they hear that the laws are "only" against gay propaganda they are meant to think the laws are reasonable. How dumb does he think people are? And I pray that he is wrong.

    Posted by: macguffin54 | Aug 8, 2013 1:22:49 PM

  11. There can be NO RESPECT for any law that debases and dehumanizes an entire group of people for the sake of appeasing the most base of widespread homophobia which in turn leads to fines, arrests and encourages the murder of LGBTs. Mutko and Diack are exposed for the vicious homophobes they are!

    Posted by: Joseph | Aug 8, 2013 1:23:20 PM

  12. Don't mind our little pogrom. We're only bashing gays. To start with, anyway.

    Posted by: sundayboy | Aug 8, 2013 1:24:08 PM

  13. sure, calm down, there's nothing to worry about. unless you're gay, or an ally, and don't sensor yourself and your clothing. then you're f**ked.

    sorry, athletes, but there's only six months to use the media and rip this country's behavior, and the event sanctioning it, into shreds, so it fails miserably. let's get to work.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 8, 2013 1:29:59 PM

  14. Is this guy delusional? The World now knows gay youth is being prosecuted and killed in Russia. Underplaying reality won't change how we view bigoted Russia.

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 8, 2013 1:30:36 PM

  15. So in essence, nothing's different than what he said before. Oh, except "calm down," which should have been followed by, "When we arrest you or we'll beat you senseless and you'll disappear."

    Posted by: Bart | Aug 8, 2013 1:33:21 PM

  16. The fact that they believe homosexuality exist based on a "promotion" tells you how deeply and perhaps willfully ignorant these ex KBGs are.

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 8, 2013 1:34:32 PM

  17. Nothing has changed, but "relax". Right. Eat me.

    Posted by: Geoff | Aug 8, 2013 1:37:52 PM

  18. One sidenote, the side that is winning never tells the other to calm down.

    Posted by: Michael | Aug 8, 2013 1:45:25 PM

  19. As appalled as I am by Mutko's comments, I'm even more appalled by the comments of Lamine Diack, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and a board member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) -- clearly, this man does NOT understand what is happening or does not WANT to understand. It's chilling that he so casually dismisses human rights.

    Posted by: Joseph2 | Aug 8, 2013 1:46:24 PM

  20. How the laws will "affect" our athletes is secondary to the egregious existence and enforcement of these laws. This is not about solely the period of the Games; it is about the government sanctioned - and inspired - ongoing violence to Russia's LGBT citizenry.

    Posted by: Kile Ozier | Aug 8, 2013 1:49:04 PM

  21. Liar. I am not sure how they remain a member of the EEC? Are they not violating the basic charter of equality? Putin is a mysoginist and a homophobe and a dictator.

    Posted by: david from Edmonton | Aug 8, 2013 1:53:39 PM

  22. Diack is from Senegal, a country even more homophobic than Russia, and so probably understands exactly what is happening in Russia and approves of it.

    Posted by: Sean | Aug 8, 2013 2:00:32 PM

  23. Why don't you calm down while I kiss by bf while we wear rainbow t shirts!!!

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 8, 2013 2:01:30 PM

  24. @David from Edmonton: Russia is not a member of the EEC, though they would like to be. The government's anti-gay obsession and Putin's authoritarian rule may mean that it would become a member, until something changes.

    @Michael: I wish I could believe that pro-gay advocates are winning, but the IAAF head's words make me think otherwise.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Aug 8, 2013 2:07:34 PM

  25. sean beat me to it. diack is from senegal, a nation proud of its president for resisting obama's call for human rights for gay people. makes perfect sense now.


    Posted by: bandanajack | Aug 8, 2013 2:14:15 PM

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