Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has claimed that international concern over his country’s discriminatory laws, and subsequent calls to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia, is an “invented problem”.
Speaking at a press conference today, Mr Mutko tried to justify Russia’s law banning ‘propaganda’ of non-traditional relationships, noting that it is not an outright ban on same-sex relationships.
“I think this is kind of an invented problem. We don’t have a law banning non-traditional sexual relations, we have a different law,” he said.
“It is the informational protection of the young generation. We want to prevent the young generation, whose psyche has not been formulated. We want to protect them against drunkenness, drugs and non-traditional sexual relations. We want them to grow up and when they become adults they have to define what they want.
“This is a law for the protection of children, but this law is not intended against anybody. It does not deprive anyone of their privacy or private life. I think mass media outside of Russia focus on this law more than they do in Russia.”
He concluded: “So I can say welcome to Russia, welcome to Sochi and all the rights and freedoms of all the people will be protected and will be secured, We are not going to deprive anybody.”
Earlier this month Mr Mutko told the world to “calm down” over the anti-propaganda law, stating that the rights of Games attendees will be protected. He added, “Of course, you have to respect the laws of the country you are in.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said that the legislation,banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships, shall not interfere with the smooth running of the Games. However, concerns remain as Russian lawmakers have confirmed that the laws will not be suspended while the Games take place.