• Winter Olympics

Gay Russian protester detained at Sochi torch relay

ESPN staff
January 19, 2014

A gay Russian protester was arrested on Saturday after unfurling a rainbow flag as the Olympic torch relay passed through the town of Voronezh ahead of February's Sochi Winter Games.

Pavel Lebedev pulled out the flag and was then wrestled to the snow by Olympic security personnel before police arrived. He was taken to a police station and questioned.

"Hosting the Games here contradicts the basic principles of the Olympics, which is to cultivate tolerance," Lebedev told the Associated Press from the police station. Lebedev cited growing homophobia in Russia as the main reason for his protest.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a ban on propaganda of "non-traditional sexual relations" into law in June which has provoked widespread international criticism.

Putin has rescinded a ban on all rallies in Sochi during the Games to allow demonstrations at venues determined by the Interior Ministry.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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