“It’s more tolerant here,” the drag queen Dolores said. “It’s a little Amsterdam in Russia, but without the excesses.”
But the arrest of more than a dozen LGBT activists in Moscow and St Petersburg on the opening day of the Olympics served as a reminder of the growing discrimination gay people face in Russia, and Sochi, which many people call the country’s “gay capital,” is no exception.
Coverage focused on the call for European integration has largely glossed over the rise in nationalist rhetoric that has led to violence.
Vladimir Putin is drafting these warriors of Russian lore to provide their brand of law and order at the Sochi Olympics.
“These Olympics left us without a road and without water but gave us a quarry and a waste dump,” laments one resident of a village that has been left cut off by Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Yevgeny Roizman’s win hailed as opposition’s biggest electoral victory against Putin, but he’s ‘ready to work with any regime’
Activists say Russia’s gay propaganda law has emboldened rightwing groups who use social media to “ambush” gay people, luring them to meetings and then humiliating them on camera – sometimes pouring urine on them. These groups often act against gay teenagers, several of whom told the Guardian that rising homophobia and vigilante activity force them to lead lives of secrecy.
Skolkovo is Russia’s bid to jump-start its tech industry. Can it overcome the corruption charges and political conflict swirling around it?