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LGBT activists arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg still don't have media coverage

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In the days following the arrests of LGBT activists in Moscow and St. Petersburg, we have heard relatively little from them on mainstream media.

GLAAD reported on Friday that four LGBT advocates were arrested in St. Petersburg for taking a photo with a banner with the words, "Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter." Among those arrested was Anastasia Smirnova, the coordinator for several Russian LGBT organizations.

The same day, at least eight LGBT protesters were arrested in Moscow's Red Square. Non-Russians were quickly released, while the Russian advocates were beaten and threatened with sexual assault before being released.

In the days since the arrests, they have been largely ignored by mainstream media, as well as the International Olympic Committee. The protesters are available for comment. Elena Kostyuchenko, one of the activists arrested in Moscow, conducted a 15-mionute interview with the Washington Blade. However, they have been largely invisible on mainstream media outlets. NBC's exclusive Olympic coverage has not reported on the arrests. There have been brief passing references in both the Associated Press and the New York Times.

The International Olympic Committee has also downplayed the violence. Emmanuelle Moreau, IOC head of media relations stated, "We understand that the protesters were quickly released. 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.” He made no mention of the violence, harassment, and threats of sexual assault.

Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, GLAAD is working with international LGBT organizations, athletes and LGBT Russians to secure media coverage for the stories of LGBT Russians, their families and the harms facing them in Russia. GLAAD has also released GLAAD Global Voices: 2014 Sochi Olympics Playbook, a resource guide for journalists covering the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. For more information, visit www.glaad.org/russia.

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