Sochi Olympics 2014 Homophobia: Mayor Claims 'No Gay Residents,' Vladimir Putin Denies Corruption For Inflated Venue Costs [VIDEO]
As the Winter Olympics draw near, the world is turning an eye once again to policies of the Russian government that many feel are blatantly homophobic and prejudiced.
In June Russian president Vladimir Putin signed into law an act that bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," that has many outraged. Those angered by the policy may turn apoplectic when they hear the recent comments made by Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov to BBC.
"We don't have them in our town," Pakhomov said. When asked if he was absolutely sure he turned surly and said, "I'm not sure, I don't bloody know them." Pakhamov went on to say that gay or straight, visitors to Sochi will be treated with the respect befitting guests, so long as they do not violate laws.
"Our hospitality will be extended to everyone who respects the laws of the Russian federation and who doesn't impose their habits and their will on others," he said. "But yes, everyone is welcome."
United States skier Bode Miller was very outspoken against this policy back in October, issuing scathing remarks. "I think it's absolutely embarrassing that there's countries and there's people who are that intolerant and that ignorant," Miller said. "But it's not the first time. We've been dealing with human-rights issues probably since there were humans."
He lamented that public officials receive stiffer penalties for breaking this law also-- "I think it's unfortunate when they get stuffed together because there are politics in sports and athletics," Miller said. "They always are intertwined, even though people try to keep them separate or try to act like they're separate. Asking an athlete to go somewhere and compete and be a representative of a philosophy and ... then tell them they can't express their views or they can't say what they believe, I think is pretty hypocritical or unfair."
On top of the homophobia controversy, inflated costs for several Olympic venues have some pointing fingers at Putin for fostering a corrupt process. "Athletes are not the only people who compete in Sochi," opposition leader Alexei Navalny said. "Officials and businessmen also took part in the games and turned them into a source of income."
Putin vigorously denied the accusations saying, "If anybody has got this information, please show this to us," Putin said in a televised interview. "But so far we haven't seen anything except speculation."
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