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Russian medalists ‘insulted’ at ‘gay claims’ over podium kiss

Published time: August 20, 2013 12:49
Gold medallists team Russia Yulia Gushchina (L) and Kseniya Ryzhova kiss and celebrate at the women's 4x400 metres relay victory ceremony (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)

Gold medallists team Russia Yulia Gushchina (L) and Kseniya Ryzhova kiss and celebrate at the women's 4x400 metres relay victory ceremony (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)

Russian gold medalists, Yulia Gushchina and Ksenia Ryzhova, are “shocked” the media construed their podium kiss as an act of protest against a law banning gay propaganda. The pair were insulted that attention was diverted from their sporting achievements.

The kiss that followed the sportswomen’s victory in the 4x400 women’s relay at the Moscow World Athletics Championships on Tuesday was widely interpreted by global press as an act of defiance against a bill banning gay propaganda to and in the presence of minors.

Both Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Gushchina were “shocked and insulted” by the claims and stressed the kiss was nothing more than a celebratory peck on the lips.

“It was a storm of emotions (after winning). And if at that moment we touched lips... I don’t know in whose fantasy this all gets thought up,” said Ksenia at an ItarTass news conference. Yulia echoed her teammate’s sentiments, saying that the snapshot was the product of the photographer’s “sick fantasies.”

“Yesterday, I was telephoned 20 times by various publications and instead of congratulating me they decided to insult me with these questions,” she fumed, quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency. She added that it was not just “insulting” for her and her teammate, but also for their coaches.

“Myself and Yulia are both married and we are not having any kind of relationship,” she stressed.

Controversy surrounding the Russian law against disseminating homosexual propaganda among minors has eclipsed the World Championships in Moscow.

(L-R) Russia's Kseniya Ryzhova, Antonina Krivoshapka, Yulia Gushchina and Tatyana Firova after the women's 4x400m final relay race at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)

Russia’s gold-medal-winning pole vaulter, Elena Isinbaeva, entered the firing line when she made statements at a press conference regarding the law.

She commented on a protest by Swedish athletes Emma Green Tregaro and Moa Hjelmer, who painted their fingernails in rainbow colors in support of LGBT rights.

"Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect,” Isinbaeva, 31, said at an English-language press conference. “When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules. We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful."

Her words were branded as “homophobic” and triggered a flurry of criticism in the western press. Following the press furor, Isinbaeva, clarified that she was against discrimination towards sexual minorities and that she had been misunderstood.

“English is not my first language so it’s possible journalists didn’t understand me,” said Isinbaeva. “I just wanted to say that people should respect other countries’ laws.”

Russia’s Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, addressed international controversy over the “gay propaganda” law on Monday. Broaching the calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next February, he assured that no athletes or visitors at the Sochi Olympics would suffer any infringements of their rights.

The legislation, enacted in Russia on June 30, introduces fines for propagandizing non-traditional sexual relations to minors, including in the media, on the internet and via viral adverts.  

Critics of the legislation argue the law encroaches on the rights of the LGBT community and the vague wording allows for anyone voicing support for the movement to be persecuted.

Comments (16)


Dustbin 23.08.2013 18:23

The BIG HOPE and the BIG BET
The BIG HOPE: The brash, Abby Martin will stare unflinchingly into the RT cameras next season, and tell us how children’s sexual orientation issues are being addressed, nurtured (or crushed) under the new ahem, ?'Propaganda of Nontraditional Sexual Relations'? legislation in "Mother Russia.'
The BIG BET: Current betting is 1000-1 that the uber-stylish Ms. Martin will prominently don the gay rights multi ribbon (red, orange, yellow green, blue and violet ) throughout one of her Breaking the Set shows this year.
This Abby Martin fan is betting the brassy babe will wear the ribbon.


Lord Anonymous 21.08.2013 08:16

Congratulations to the girls and the media should stop BS them.


Brandon Short 20.08.2013 17:24

I believe, as an LGBT American, that far too many times things are taken far out of context for publicity. The core concerns that people have in my community are more along the lines of the safety and freedom of our LGBT Russian friends. Reports of abuse, humilation, and torture by Ultra Conservative and Neo Nazi groups in Russia who feel validated by the Propaganda Law are Alarming. I for one could care less about two Athelets sharing a kiss on National Media- Traditional, Sexual, or Otherwise.

View all comments (16)
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