Putin turns up charm to reassure world on Olympics «

    Putin turns up charm to reassure world on Olympics

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday defended his country’s controversial antigay law as relatively mild compared with many other countries as he tried to refocus attention on sports and away from security and human-rights concerns ahead of the start of th Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    “I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that Russia does not criminally prosecute people being gay,” Putin said in an interview with a small group of journalists from some of the world’s largest media companies including the BBC and ABC News.

    He said that the law was solely aimed at banning “propaganda” aimed at homosexuality and sexual abuse of children.

    “It has nothing to do with persecuting people for their non-traditional orientation. So no concerns exist for people who intend to come as athletes or visitors to the Olympics,” he said.

    Gay rights advocates believe Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church are encouraging the spread of antigay sentiment in Russia.

    Putin has signed a series of laws that target gays.

    But Putin insisted Russia has a “much softer, liberal approach” to gay rights than many U.S. states.

    The Winter Games in Sochi will begin on Feb. 7.

    Security concerns
    Putin also tried to ease security concerns for visitors and athletes.The U.S. State Department has issues a travel advisory for all Americans heading to the Olympics in the wake of two terrorist attacks in December in Volgograd, a major transportation hub 600 miles from the site of the games.

    He said he was convinced Russia had “adequate resources” and the Olympics would not feel a heavy police presence.

    “We would try to make sure that security measures don’t jump at you, are not in your face,” Putin said,.