Gay Activist Says She Was Detained at Olympics
SOCHI, Russia -- An Italian gay-rights activist 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.
Vladimir 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 Sunday before she was released. She said she was not charged.
Her website published a photograph of her after her release. Before her arrest, she tweeted: "I’m in Sochi. Greetings in the colors of the rainbow, in Putin’s face."
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 from Italy his client had been held for five to six hours in a station room, and she was unable to understand what was happening because only Russian was spoken.
Saccani said police confiscated the rainbow flag from Luxuria, who tried to grab it back. At that point, he added, she was taken away. Saccani was not exactly sure where this happened.