Russia: Gay protester detained for unfurling rainbow flag during Olympic torch relay

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Russian gay protester was detained today for revealing a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch relay.

Pavel Lebedev, of Voronezh, which is 560 miles north of Sochi, unfurled the rainbow flag as the torch passed through his hometown.

The Sochi Winter Olympics will begin on 7 February and have already caused an international outcry as Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed a bill into law banning the “promotion of non-traditional relationships” to minors.

Photos were uploaded by Lebedev’s friends of him unfurling the flag before being detained by security staff. He was wrestled to the snowy ground and held there until police arrived.

Pavel Lebedev2

Speaking to the AP, Lebedev said he was still in the police station being questioned.

He said: “Hosting the games here contradicts the basic principles of the Olympics, which is to cultivate tolerance.”

Limits have been set by Russian authorities on protests allowed to take place during the Sochi games.

Putin originally signed a decree banning all demonstrations, but later said protests would be allowed in authorised protest zones.