A day into the Sochi Olympics, Russia arrested LGBT activists who were demonstrating against the country's strict anti-gay laws. The latest arrests reportedly include Elena Kostyuchenko, a prominent Russian journalist who writes about LGBT discrimination in the country.
Just got word Elena Kostyuchenko released after arrest for national anthem w/ rainbow flag. Great! Now @NBCOlympics can intrvw her. Right?— JeffSharlet (@JeffSharlet) February 7, 2014
According to Buzzfeed, Kostyuchenko was arrested in Moscow in a group of about 10 people, who were holding gay pride flags and singing the Russian national anthem. Buzzfeed also notes that at least two of the protesters report being beaten and threatened with sexual assault by law enforcement officials.
Earlier today, four protesters were arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia. The small group of protesters reportedly included a pregnant woman. A police spokesperson confirmed the arrests there to Gay Star News but provided no additional information.
Virtually any public display of LGBT identity or support is illegal in Russia, thanks to its vague "propaganda" laws. And unsanctioned protests in the country are also against the law, making it even more perilous for activists who want to draw attention to the country's LGBT discrimination while most of the world's major media organizations camped out in Sochi for the Games. This video reportedly shows police breaking up the small protest, which began at the same time as the Sochi Opening Ceremony: