Gay people welcome at Sochi Winter Olympics, says Russia's Putin
Monday, October 28, 2013 - 01:13
Oct. 28 - Russian President Vladimir Putin pledges no discrimination against gay people at Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Mana Rabiee reports.
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The Black Sea resort town of Sochi in Russia is the site for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
But preparations for the Games have been marred, ever since Russia adopted a law in June that critics say discriminates against homosexuals.
The law triggered angry criticism from the West; even calls to boycott the games.
Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin may be trying to set things right.
While inspecting the Olympic site on Monday with the head of the International Olympic Committee, Putin suggested gay people will be welcome at the Games.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING:
"We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation."
In making the unexpected remark, Putin may be trying to defuse criticism over his treatment of Russia's gay community.
But the Games are also a top priority for Putin, who's staked his reputation on their success.
Russia's spending over $50 billion on the Games, which start in February.
And Putin - some two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union -- wants to use the event to show the world his country's modern face.
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