Putin: 'Everybody Is Invited to Sochi'
Says 'none of our guests will have any problems'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2014 8:07 AM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at his meeting with Olympic volunteers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Putin says gays should feel welcome at the upcoming Winter...   (Alexei Nikolsky)
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(Newser) – Vladimir Putin is again taking time out of his Herculean schedule to sit down with foreign media in advance of next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, and used the opportunity to try to downplay Russia's anti-gay laws—sort of. "Everybody is invited to Sochi," he told ABC in an interview airing today. "I couldn't care less about their sexual orientation. We will welcome all athletes and all visitors to the Olympics. None of our guests will have any problems." Other highlights of his comments from interviews conducted Friday, courtesy of Politico, Reuters, the Guardian, and the AP:

  • On calls to boycott the Sochi Olympics: "The Russian people have their own cultural code, their own tradition. We don't interfere, don't stick our noses in their life and we ask that our traditions and culture are treated with the same respect."

  • On US states that criminalize homosexual acts: "We have no such thing, people can feel free and at ease, but please leave the children in peace." Reuters notes that he did not elaborate on that last part.
  • And furthermore: "It seems to me that the law we adopted doesn't harm anybody. What's more, homosexual people can't feel inferior here, because there is no professional, career, or social discrimination against them. When they achieve great success, for example Elton John—he's an extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation."
  • On what he'll be watching: "Everybody in our country likes figure skating, I do too. I like cross-country skiing, biathlon, Alpine skiing. This is what I know and what I like ."
  • On Edward Snowden: "Mr. Snowden is subject to the treatment of provisional asylum here in Russia. He has a right to travel freely across the country, he has no special limitation, he can just buy a ticket and come here." As to Snowden being able to stay in Russia indefinitely, Putin said, "Yes, sure, definitely."

Meanwhile, Politico takes a lengthy look inside the Sochi Olympics here.