Female Russian Runners Kiss—Very Publicly Kseniya Ryzhova, Tatyana Firova smooch atop podium, set tongues wagging By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Aug 18, 2013 8:46 AM CDT 133 comments Comments Russian runners Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kiss on the podium at the World Championships. (Liga Fanatico) (Newser) – Maybe it was just affection or maybe a blatant political statement, but as the debate heats up over Russia's anti-gay policies, two female Russian runners yesterday shared a very public smooch—atop the winner's podium at the World Athletics Championship in Moscow. Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova had just won gold in the women's 4X400 relay, reports Sky News, which seems sure that the kiss was a protest; other outlets aren't so sure, and neither runner has commented publicly. Meanwhile, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko spoke out today, reports the AP, saying that Olympic athletes' private lives won't be subject to the law. "The freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected," he said. But he showed no signs of softening with regard to athletes who might be inclined to make public statements: "We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations."