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Putin to gays going to Sochi Olympics: 'Leave children in peace'

Winter OlympicsOlympicsVladimir Putin2014 Winter OlympicsSocial IssuesFreedom of the PressRussia

Speaking at a mountain site for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that gays should feel comfortable attending the Winter Games but warned them to "leave children in peace."

Putin delivered his message during a visit with Olympic volunteers on Friday, according to R-Sport. Earlier this week, he reiterated that there will be no discrimination at the global sporting event, which begins early next month.

At issue is Russian legislation that criminalizes the promotion of "nontraditional sexual relations" in the presence of minors. The law has drawn international criticism as a limit on free speech and a ban on events such as gay pride parades.

Because gay sex is not a crime, Putin said, gay people can “feel calm, at ease, but leave children in peace, please.”

His words contradicted an earlier warning from Russia's Interior Ministry, which oversees the police and vowed to enforce the anti-gay legislation.

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