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Several LGBT protesters detained in lead-up to Sochi Games

Moscow activist tells Xtra police spat on her and refused her access to legal counsel

Credit: YouTube

Russian authorities detained at least 61 people leading up to the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi, The The New York Times reports. The count includes four protesters in St Petersburg who unfurled a banner quoting the Olympic charter’s ban on discrimination and 19 in Moscow who sang the Russian national anthem in front of rainbow flags. Some of those detained in Moscow say the police beat them and spat on them in custody.

In an email to Xtra on Feb 9, Moscow activist Elena Kostyuchenko described how police told her to “suck their bolts,” spat on her and told her she would be burned. The officers, she said, were not wearing badges and refused her access to her legal counsel.

Other arrests Friday included Russians protesting the environmental impact of the Sochi Games and the Russian occupation and ethnic cleansing of the local Circassian population in the 19th century.