EU commissioner to skip Olympics because of Russia’s human rights record

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — European Union commissioner Viviane Reding said Tuesday she would not be attending the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, over that country’s treatment of minorities.

Viviane Reding
Viviane Reding

“I will certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation,” Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights, said in a tweet on Tuesday.

While it was unclear whether Reding had been invited or would have gone as an EU representative or a private citizen, her decision to openly oppose Russia’s recent legislation was the most vocal statement by a politician to date, according to Reuters.

Reding joins German President Joachim Gauck in boycotting the games.

Gauck decision also comes in protest of human rights violations and the harassment of Russian opposition political figures, Der Spiegel reported Sunday. The magazine said the Russian government was informed of his decision last week.

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Russia has come under intense criticism since President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” this past June.

The bill was part of a series of legislative measures advanced by the Russian Parliament, including the ban of adoption of Russian children by foreign LGBT individuals and same-sex couples, or couples from nations which have legalized same-sex marriage.

Putin has said several times that gay athletes are welcome in Russia and that no discrimination will be tolerated, but that the is needed to protect young people.

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