Sochi Winter Olympics: Arrest of protesters puts focus on Russian suppression of dissent

Detained … Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, was arrested by Russian police for holding a pro-gay banner. Detained … Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, was arrested by Russian police for holding a pro-gay banner.
杭州楼凤

Detained … Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, was arrested by Russian police for holding a pro-gay banner.

Activist David Khakim, right, is approached by two police officers after pulling out a banner protesting a recent prison sentence for a local environmentalist in front of the Olympic rings in central Sochi.

Sochi: Russia’s suppression of dissent during the Winter Games is again under the spotlight, after two protesters were arrested in Sochi.

A former Italian MP claims she was arrested at the Olympic site on Sunday while queuing to buy a ticket and brandishing a banner saying “It’s OK to be gay”. On Monday police detained an activist in central Sochi, who was holding a solo protest against a three-year prison sentence given last week to environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko.

On Sunday, Vladimir Luxuria, a prominent gay rights campaigner who was Europe’s first openly transgender MP, reportedly called for help after she was detained by police.

Ms Luxuria later told reporters she was approached by two men in plain clothes in the Olympic village while she held up the banner. She said she was not released until early Monday morning, and was told not to display pro-gay slogans in public.

“I think it is important [to have] the opportunity to talk internationally about these things because otherwise these things happen in Russia and nobody knows, nobody cares,” she said.

Earlier that day she had tweeted a photo of herself at the Olympic village brandishing a rainbow fan and wearing a rainbow skirt, saying in Italian “I’m in Sochi! Regards with the colours of the rainbow, in the face of Putin!”

Sono a Sochi! Saluti con i colouri della rainbow, alla faccia di Putin! pic.twitter爱杭州同城论坛m/E68Lgtadgv — vladimir luxuria (@vladiluxuria) February 16, 2014