Russia Anti-gay Law Casts A Shadow Over Sochi’s 2014 Olympics

Russia pressures former Soviet republics to join his economic union.

Milonov and Fry became arch enemies after the two men held a face-to-face meeting in Saint Petersburg in March and have traded insults through the media ever since. Fry is an implacable critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he once memorably said looked like the Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter books. ‘We don’t have to apologise’ Despite the outcry sparked by the adoption of the law both in Saint Petersburg and nationwide, Milonov sees no harm in what he describes as ???preventative??? legislation. ???It???s a declaration of our values, our response to the challenges of the present time.??? ???Thank God that we have Putin, who defends the basic interests of Russia, for defending its values,??? said Milonov, saying that Russia ???needs to resist the wave of degradation that has seized the Western world.??? ???I do not know why we have to apologise in front of Westerners. The preaching tone that they adopted in this area does not suit us.??? The law orders fines for individuals and organisations deemed to have violated the law, and, unusually, also singles out foreigners who risk fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,106), detention for 15 days and deportation. Many commenters believe Russia underestimated the international reaction to the law, which now risks overshadowing the Sochi Winter Games, the biggest event in its post-Soviet history. But Milonov, who describes himself as a ???man of European culture??? defends the law as part of a promotion of family values in Russia and the protection of children. ???We have to defend the future of our children,??? said Milonov, who has children aged four and one.

Photographer take pictures as the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of U.S. astronaut U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov  (KAZAKHSTAN - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

7, its members added fuel to this particular flame. Russia, they said, was not violating Olympic anti-discrimination principles. The spirit of the Games is awakening here, said Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the coordinating commission. Advocates in the West were furious. They had been lobbying the IOC to confront Russia over its policies, which they say encourage not only discrimination, but also violence toward gays and lesbians. Looking past the piles of gravel and seas of mud, ignoring the deluge, the IOC declared the competition venues ready and offered Russia hearty congratulations. On Sunday, the Olympic torch was lit in Ancient Olympia, beginning its seven-day journey across Greece and on to Russia, which Putin calls a very special country, different from the West. In a recent speech to international scholars, Putin had little patience for what he called political correctness. He accused the West of rejecting the values underlying Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual, he said. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan. For mayor, no concerns Some LGBT and human rights activists have wondered whether an Olympic boycott is in order. Although President Obama condemned the Russian law, he counseled against a boycott. Last week, after the IOC statement, various organizations said they would apply pressure to sponsors, which include Coca-Cola, McDonalds, General Electric, Dow, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Panasonic, Visa and others. In Sochi, Pakhomov, the mayor, insists there is no cause for alarm. We are a multiethnic and tolerant city, he said.

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Putins bullying is not limited to Moldova. Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine also have been the target of a mix of punitive measures and bribes in the last several months. The Kremlins zero-sum aim is to block those countries from completing association agreements with the European Union and compel them to join a Moscow-led customs union that would be an E.U. rival and a means of realizing Mr. Putins dream of recreating something like the Soviet Union. Mr. Putin scored a victory earlier this month when Armenia, a small country that is dependent on Russia for both energy and security, capitulated and said it would join the would-be Eurasian Union, which so far includes only dictatorships Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. But Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia have been holding firm, saying they will proceed with their E.U. agreements, which fall well short of E.U. membership, at a regional summit scheduled for November. The choice is a courageous one for all three governments. To qualify for E.U. association, and the free-trade benefits that come with it, the countries have to enact far-reaching reforms, not just in economic regulation, but also on matters such as independence of the judiciary and the penal code. There are clear political tests: Georgias presidential election next month must be free and fair.

Russia Vows All Assistance to Syria Chemical Arms Destruction – FM

It reported over the weekend that a team of about a dozen of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will head to Syria on October 1 to take the stockpiles under control. In an interview published by the Kommersant daily on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russian experts were ready to partake in all aspects of future activities in inspections and in administrative structures that might be set up to coordinate activities between the UN and the OPCW on site, as well as in structures that would possibly be set up to provide [the inspectors] security. He also vowed financial support to the future OPCW effort in Syria. The Russian top diplomat said it was up to OPCW inspectors to decide what types of chemical weapons should be destroyed in Syria and what should be taken abroad. This is up to professionals to decide. They should see everything with their own eyes and determine what poisonous substances can be destroyed on site and what [facilities] are needed for this. Possibly, the Syrians have the required facilities, although I doubt it, he said, adding that a part of the Syrian chemical stockpile can be destroyed with the help of mobile facilities that the United States and a group of other countries have. Lavrov added that the recently adopted UN Security Council resolution on Syria permits taking chemical weapons out of the country a practice not envisaged by the Chemical Weapons Convention. He described the resolution, adopted unanimously on Friday night, as a generally positive document intended to keeps the Syrian conflict settlement within the political dimension. He said Russia would encourage the Syrian government to observe the schedule, agreed by the UN and the OPCW, but Western powers and their Arab allies supporting the Syrian opposition should send a clear signal to anti-government rebels, so that they wouldnt dare to undermine this process. The OPCWs 41-nation executive council agreed on an accelerated program for Syria’s chemical stockpiles elimination on Friday night, stating that all chemical weapons should be destroyed by mid-2014. The decision requires inspections in Syria to start on October 1. The Russian top diplomat said that Russia would press for an international conference to make Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The conference was agreed in 2010 and scheduled to take place last year, but preparations have stalled. According to Lavrov, Russian President Vladimir Putin set a task to put all chemical stockpiles in the world under the international control after meeting with his US counterpart Barack Obama at the G20 summit in St.