Gay Russian protester detained after unfurling rainbow flag during torch relay

Saturday January 18th, 2014

Sochi (The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images) Gay rights at the Sochi Olympics have been a hot topic of conversation. (The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images)

Pavel Lebedev, a gay Russian protester, was detained on Saturday after unfurling a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch relay in his hometown of Voronezh, which is 560 miles north of Sochi, according to the Associated Press.

Lebedev was seen in photos by his friends being wrestled to the snow by Olympic security personnel until police arrived.

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"Hosting the Games here contradicts the basic principles of the Olympics, which is to cultivate tolerance," Lebedev said when reached by the AP while still in the police station.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Friday members of the LGBT community wouldn't be harassed at the Olympics so long as they "leave children alone." In June, Putin signed a law banning propaganda of "nontraditional sexual relations."

The Sochi Games begin on Feb. 7.

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