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Russian lawmaker: We will arrest gay athletes, tourists at Olympic Games

'Gay propaganda' law co-sponsor says he is unconcerned about a US visa ban, saying: 'I've spoken to US politicians, and they support my stance'
Vitaly Milonov has said Russia will definitely be arresting gay athletes and tourists at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

A Russian lawmaker has said the ‘gay propaganda’ law will remain enforced during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

Vitaly Milonov, co-sponsor of the ‘non-traditional relationships’ bill, said the government cannot decide when to selectively enforce the law.

It comes as the International Olympic Committee said the Russian government had ‘assured’ them all athletes and spectators will be safe from arrest.

Speaking to Interfax and as translated by GSN, Milonov said: ‘I have not heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation but I know it is acting in accordance with Russian law.

‘If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.’

In the interview, the lawmaker claimed the law is ‘defending children from the propaganda of non-traditional values’ and nothing to do with ‘the ordinary life of adults’.

Milonov said while he personally did not know any LGBT people, he said: ‘I can say that the best figure-skating in the world is the Soviet school of figure skating.

‘All of our people have been brought up in a very traditional way, I am personally acquainted with many Olympic champions. In fact, I practically grew up among many of those families.’

Milonov was the deputy responsible for the law prohibiting ‘gay propaganda’ in St Petersburg, beginning the trend that led to the nationwide ban.

After Russian LGBT rights campaigner Nikolai Alekseev said there was ‘no point’ in boycotting vodka, a petition began calling for the United States to ban Milonov from entering the country. Elena Mizulina, who was the State Duma deputy responsible for the federal law, is also on the proposed visa ban petition.

Speaking to RIA Novosti, Milonov said: ‘I get word of such things from time to time. I absolutely don’t get nervous about this subject.’

‘Having spoken with many American politicians, I understand that they support the stance I’ve taken on this issue,’ he added. ‘Such support has also been expressed to me by several members of German parliament.

According to the petition organizers, they need 100,000 signatures by 25 August for it to be considered by the Secretary of State John Kerry. At the time of writing, they have just over 2,600.

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