The International Olympic Committee has said Russia was acting in accordance with its laws when police arrested at least 61 demonstrators on the opening day of the Sochi Winter Games, despite reports of apparent beatings and threats of sexual violence.
According to Buzzfeed, Emmanuelle Moreau, head of IOC’s media relations, sent an email defending Russia’s treatment of LGBT demonstrators.
She said: “We understand that the protesters were quickly released. As in many countries in the world, in Russia, you need permission before staging a protest. We understand this was the reason that they were temporarily detained.”
The Russian LGBT Network initially reported that four activists, including one pregnant woman, were arrested on Friday.
This was followed by further reports of up to 61 arrests nationwide, with up to 24 of them being LGBT campaigners.
Detainees have reported both beatings from authorities as well as threats of sexual violence.
Russian leaders have attempted to play down fears that athletes and spectators could be prosecuted for speaking out on LGBT rights.
Reiterating last month’s comments by President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak this week warned gay people to “leave the kids alone.”