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Russia: Activist and former Italian lawmaker was never detained in Sochi

Monday, February 17, 2014

Update: Vladimir Luxuria was arrested by Russian police on Monday as she entered Shayba Arena at the Olympic Park to watch a hockey game, while wearing a rainbow-colored outfit and headdress. Story and photos


SOCHI, Russia – Italian gay rights activist Vladimir Luxuria said she was detained by police at the Olympics after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag that read in Russian: “Gay is OK.”

Police on Monday denied this happened, and the owner of Sochi’s gay club said she was at his club that evening “enjoying” herself, contradicting a statement by the spokesman of an Italian gay rights group who said he spoke with Luxuria when she was released shortly after 3 a.m. Monday morning

Vladimir Luxuria

David Goldman, AP
Vladimir Luxuria

Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament who has become a prominent transgender rights crusader and television personality, told The Associated Press she was held for several hours before she was released. She said she was not charged.

Speaking from a Sochi hotel, she said she was detained on Sunday evening in a city park by two people she did not identify and who asked what she was wearing. Luxuria added she was kept at a police station for about two hours, most of the time waiting for an interpreter to arrive.

“The problem was not a rainbow flag, the problem was the writing,” she said. “They asked me not to show things like that anymore.”

Sochi organizers said Monday they had no information of any such incident.

“We’ve talked to police and they have told us there is no record whatsoever to any detention or arrest,” Sochi organizing committee spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said.

A duty officer at the central police station in Sochi told The Associated Press they have never had an Italian national in custody.

Protesters are routinely arrested at unauthorized rallies in Moscow. Often, officers at the police station are so overwhelmed with paperwork they keep some people at the station for hours and let them go later without registering the detention or giving the detained person any document explaining it.

Luxuria’s agent, Fabio Saccani, told the AP police confiscated the rainbow flag from Luxuria, who tried to grab it back. At that point, he added, she was taken away.

But Andrei Tanichev, owner of Sochi’s main gay club Mayak, said Monday that Luxuria was there Sunday night and was “enjoying” herself and “even took part in the (drag) show.”

Tanichev said Luxuria left on her own and he has no knowledge of the detention.

Flavio Romani, president of Arcigay, an Italian gay-rights advocacy organization had told the Italian news agency ANSA that he had spoken to Luxuria by telephone from the police station where she said she had been detained, and again when she was released shortly after 3 a.m. local time in Sochi on Monday morning.

Earlier Sunday, Luxuria posted a photograph on Twitter of herself holding a rainbow-colored fan, with the message: “I’m in Sochi! Regards, with the colors of the rainbow, in Putin’s face!”

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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27 more reader comments:

  1. It’s incidents like this that hurt our credibility as a community. Shame on her.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:54pm
  2. I am still stunned people are actually participating in/watching the homophobic/dog killing olympics.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:55pm
  3. Let the burying of the truth commence.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:55pm
  4. Why jump to the conclusion that she was lying? We are dealing with Russia and Russians.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:57pm
  5. Read the article, there are other conflicting accounts other than just the Russian's denial. Not saying it didn't happen, but it wouldn't be the first time an activist fabricated a story to get publicity.

    Replied on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:02pm
  6. True Randy.. but in the poisonous context of Russian politics and propaganda... she deserves the benefit of any doubt. And if she lied, shame on her.

    Replied on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:04pm
  7. Read the article. There is no way to prove anything one way or the other.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:01pm
  8. it says right in the article that the police are so swamped that they often detain people and then let them go without ever entering them into the system. so she probably was held there and then let go. they just never bothered to enter her into the system.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:02pm
  9. The title of this article is misleading. If you read the article you will see that she most likely was detained but not entered into the system.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:03pm
  10. The fact that there are no records and the Russians deny it AND the article says that no documenting detainees should have thrown up red flags for anyone. It sounds to me more like they are trying to cover it up after the promise that they made to the Olympic Committee that they would not arrest or detain any homosexuals during the games.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:08pm
  11. Only the word of a club owner who may be currying favor with the regime he knows he’ll have to deal with after the Olympians all go home.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:09pm
  12. same girl

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:11pm
  13. She spoke to someone on the phone while she was detained. Regardless of what a bar owner says about the first part of the night, the Russian law enforcement probably did detain her.
    This is an attempt to save face, and discredit people in our community at the same time.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:24pm
  14. I am willing to believe that she was lying. Its the same type of an attempt to agitate, like the two Lesbians who stood in front of the Vatican with their tops off. As violence does not stop violence, instigation does not stop intolerance, bigotry, or hatred.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:27pm
  15. I’d rather believe her than the Russian police and that club owner.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:31pm
  16. My guess is the Russian police are lying.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:58pm
  17. I believe her over the Russian government. If it was any other minority group being persecuted and arrested in Africa, Russia, and the Middle East, the allied forces would be there to rescue them. Shame!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:58pm
  18. Hard to tell what the truth is here, unfortunately. It’s entirely believable that she was detained /after/ leaving the bar’s party/drag show and that the Keystone Cops didn’t keep a record of it (perhaps even on orders to not embarrass the brass); it’s also entirely believable that she tried to create a story when none actually presented itself, since we’ve seen that before even from our side of the issue.

    What a sad time we live in when truth cannot be known anymore because reality has been too dishonest for too long.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 6:02pm
  19. Yea just like the coordinator who fucked up the opening ceremony mysterious and “accidentally” died a few days later.. Glad I don’t live in Russia!!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 6:07pm
  20. I’m not inclined to believe anything coming straight from Russia right now. Even a civilian like the club owner could be coerced into lying for their own safety. That being said, I’m still not sure who to believe in this case, so I’ll reserve judgement until more information is forthcoming.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 6:29pm
  21. Perhaps the bar against “promoting” gay rights in Russia isn’t as low as we are led to believe.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 7:14pm
  22. Yeah right!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 7:36pm
  23. Hahah yeah right, just like the guy in charge of the technology for the opening ceremonies was never murdered. Nice try, Russia.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 9:33pm
  24. not the first time she over reacted.. and lied..

    Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 12:15am
  25. Gee, who am I going to believe?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 1:21am
  26. Do you really think their police will admit this? NO! Hell our own Government don’t own up to al that they do!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 2:34am
  27. DEBUNKING: The error is born out of far-right newspapers that reported that the Olympic Commettee doesn’t know she was arrested.

    Guess what? It is not their duty to know about people’s being arrested.

    (It is their work to keep the Games out of politics, commerce and Generically avoid a new Germany ’42 olympics. But that’s another matter.)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 3:19am