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Russian queer activists detained as Sochi Games open

Four protesters arrested in St Petersburg, more in Moscow

According to the Russian LGBT Network, four LGBT activists were detained in St Petersburg right before the Olympic Games opened. Credit: Russian LGBT Network (Egmar Irausquin illustration/vixions.nl)

Four LGBT activists were detained for more than four hours in St Petersburg on Feb 7, according to the Russian LGBT Network.

The group posted news of the arrests to their Facebook page, saying the activists were detained after unfurling a banner that read, “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter.”

About four hours later, the boyfriend of one of the activists told Xtra by email that the protesters had been released.

He said they were arrested on grounds of “unauthorized gathering” and could face fines of $500 or 50 hours of work.

One of the protesters, Anastasia Smirnova, said in a Facebook post that they are scheduled to appear in court on Feb 8.

“Everyone is feeling right and strong,” she posted, “and the support that we have is truly heartwarming.”

Another Russian activist told Xtra that 10 more LGBT activists were detained in Moscow for singing the Russian national anthem while holding rainbow flags. A video on YouTube shows activists being arrested in Red Square.

Later reports alleged police beat and injured several of the protestors while detaining them at the police station. They were released three hours after they were detained.