Activists being arrested In Moscow on Friday (Pic: Dmitry Zykov / Facebook)
According to The New York Times, 23 gay rights activists have been arrested in protests related to the Sochi Olympics in Russia.
The small pockets of protests took place on Friday, the opening day of the Games.
Four activists were arrested in St. Petersburg after holding up a banner that proclaimed: “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement.”
In Moscow, around 19 activists were detained in Red Square. Some held up rainbow flags and sang the Russian national anthem. Two of the protesters were Swedes.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, “the detained activists were held in a cage, beaten and humiliated.”
It is believed that all those arrested have since been released.
In a smart move by the authorities, it appears that the arrests were not made under Russia’s gay propaganda law. Instead, they were detained for holding unauthorised protests.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) commented that the detentions were acceptable and quite normal.
“As in many countries in the world, in Russia, you need permission before staging a protest. We understand this was the reason that they were temporarily detained,” Emmanuelle Moreau, the IOC’s head of media relations told BuzzFeed.
“We understand that the protesters were quickly released,” Moreau added.
In addition to the LGBT activists, The New York Times said another 38 people protesting against the Olympic Games for a variety of reasons have been arrested in Russia.