Ireen Wüst hugs Russian President Vladimir Putin
Gay rights activists are furious that bisexual Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst happily shared a hug with homophobic Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Wüst revealed that after winning the women’s 3,000 meters gold medal in Sochi on Sunday she gave Putin a hug at a post-victory party in her honour.
“He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speed skater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the 3,000 meters). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him,” she said.
The cuddle has not gone down well with America’s Queer Nation which has campaigned against the Winter Olympics being held in Russia due to the country’s anti-homosexuality laws.
“The Olympic athletes have said that they will not make political statements during the Games yet that is exactly what Ireen Wüst did,” said Duncan Osborne, a member of Queer Nation in a statement.
“By embracing Vladimir Putin, a man who has trampled on the human rights of LGBT Russians, political dissidents, artists, undocumented immigrants, and others in Russia, Wüst has endorsed his fascist agenda.”
The organisation noted that as the Olympics opened in Russia last week, over 60 activists, including LGBT activists, were arrested in several Russian cities while protesting over a number of issues.
“LGBT Russians and political dissidents are showing us what courage and commitment look like,” said Osborne. “Embracing Vladimir Putin is a betrayal of that courage and commitment. Wüst should be ashamed of herself. Every athlete in Sochi should understand that the whole world is watching. We cannot make the athletes show the sort of courage that LGBT Russians display, but we will not be silent and we will not forget if the athletes embrace Putin.”
Wüst came out in 2009 when she revealed that she was bisexual and had a girlfriend, fellow speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof, but has avoided discussing her sexuality since. She reportedly later broke up with van Kerkhof and went into a relationship with a man.
According to Outsports, there are only seven openly-LGBT Winter Olympians in Sochi, all of whom are women.
Watch Wüst hugging President Putin below.