Anton Krasovsky, the Russian news anchor who was fired immediately after coming out as gay on a Kremlin-backed news network he helped found, has weighed in on the growing calls for an international boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the nation’s virulent anti-LGBT laws.
Krasovsky is widely being praised online as a LGBT hero in bravely coming out. In the CNN interview from Lisbon earlier this week that has gotten so much attention, somewhat overlooked was Krasovsky’s response to growing calls from international advocates who say Russia’s ban on so-called homosexual propaganda should prompt a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“Russian gay people need international support, but international support is not a boycott of Sochi Olympic games, because Olympic games is an international event,” Krasovsky, 37, told CNN. “It’s not a Russian event, it’s not a personal event of Putin, it’s an event of millions and millions of people. … Seven million people in Russia are gay. If you want to boycott Olympic games in Russia, you’re trying to boycott 7 million gay people in Russia. You want to boycott me.”
LGBT Russians and tourists have been violently assaulted, harassed, and arrested for simple actions like unfurling a rainbow flag, since the national ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” took effect earlier this summer. Not every LGBT activist in Russia agrees on whether to boycott the Olympics. Some local activists are hoping to plan protests alongside the Olympics. A group called RUSA LGBT based here in the United States is advocating Olympics-related boycotts but not for athletes. Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev has decried the vodka boycott that is gathering suppor while calling for pressure directly on his country’s leaders, namely Vladimir Putin.
But Kraskovsky’s opinion might now carry weight in the debate given his new, international platform. Back in January, Kraskovsky closed his nightly newscast with a straightforward coming-out that effectively ended his TV career in Russia.
“I’m gay, and I’m just the same person as you, my dear audience, as President Putin, as Prime Minister Medvedev and the deputies of our Duma,” he said, according to an interview withSnob.ru. He was reportedly fired from KontrTV, a government-backed cable network that he helped launch in December, and the footage of his announcement was quickly deleted from KontrTV’s website and YouTube.