Winter Olympics 2014: Sochi protesters arrested over banner citing Olympic Charter's words against discrimination

Prominent LGBT activist among group censured for highlighting perceived conflict with Games’ rules

One of Russia’s leading gay activists was arrested on Friday while taking part in a protest shortly before the opening ceremony of the £30bn Winter Olympics.

Anastasia Smirnova was one of four activists detained in St Petersburg on the opening day of the Sochi Games as the group photographed a banner citing the Olympic Charter’s words against discrimination. Further arrests were later made in Moscow where 10 people were arrested, two of them believed to be Swedish.

The arrests came amid international concern at Russia’s treatment of gays, especially newly enacted laws which make gay “propaganda” among minors and offence.

Calls to boycott the Games have largely been ignored but some athletes are understood to be planning to hold up six fingers when the cameras are on them to bring attention to the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6, which describes discrimination as “incompatible with the Olympic movement”.

The four protestors arrested in St Petersburg, one of them a pregnant woman, were on Vasilyevsky Island with the banner which they planned to hang from the Belinskiy Bridge when they were arrested by police.

Ms Smirnova, who last year accused the authorities of conducting a pogrom against the lesbian, gas and transsexual communities, expressed derision at her arrest.

Writing on her Facebook page while in detention she said: “Can’t write much as phones are not permitted, and they are now calling us to sign papers. Cosmic hugs to you from our police station! PS. Detention for a photo with a banner - isn’t it an amazing way to celebrate the Opening of the Games?”

The Russian LGBT network said in a post: “The activists were making photos with a banner “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter” to support the company held today all over the world.”

Ms Smirnova was later released from custody and said: “Everyone is feeling right and strong, and the support that we have is truly heartwarming.”

President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s stance last month when he said: “We aren’t banning anything, we aren’t rounding up anyone, we have no criminal punishment for such relations unlike many other countries. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors.”

The International Olympic Committee’s decision to award the Games to Russia has been widely questioned but it has insisted it has received assurances that gays will not be subjected to discrimination.

Later Turkish special forces seized an airline passenger suspected of making a bomb threat and trying to hijack a passenger plane, while demanding to go to the Winter Olympics venue of Sochi.

They said the suspect was taken away for questioning after the Pegasus Airlines plane from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov arrived in Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments