Three deadly bombings have rocked two of Russia's southern cities in the past four days, killing at least 34 people just six weeks before the country plans to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device containing shrapnel on a public bus Monday morning in the southern city of Volgograd, killing at least 14 people and injuring over 30. This attack, which investigators are describing as a "terrorist act," comes one day after another suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at Volgograd's railway station, killing at least 17. Additionally, on Friday a car bomb killed three people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, 170 miles east of Sochi.
No group has taken responsibility for the two most recent attacks in Volgograd, but Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the investigators covering the attacks, told media outlets that the shrapnel used in the two most recent explosive devices was "identical." more >>
Brian Boitano, a former Olympic gold medalist figure skater and a current member of the U.S. delegation heading to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, announced Thursday that he is gay.
"I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am," Boitano said in a statement. The professional figure skater competed in the 1988 Olympic Games, where he won the figure skating Gold Medal.
"First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations." Boitano also became the World Champion in figure skating in 1986 and 1988, and the U.S. National Champion from 1985 to 1988. more >>
The White House announced Tuesday that two of its delegation members for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia will be openly gay athletes. Many media outlets are stipulating that this was done intentionally as a message to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, regarding the country's ban against "homosexual propaganda for minors."
The two openly gay athletes who will be representing the U.S. include Tennis great Billie Jean King, a 39-time Grand Slam title winner and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and hockey player Caitlin Cahow, who won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Games and a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Games. Cahow will attend the games' closing ceremony.
Other members of the opening ceremony delegation include Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Ambassador Michael McFaul, White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, and Former Olympic gold medalist figure skater Brian Boitano. American representatives at the closing ceremony will include Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, McFaul, and Olympic speedskaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden, both of whom have won five Olympic gold medals each. more >>
Television personality and real estate mogul Donald Trump said in a recent interview that his views on gay marriage are evolving as society's opinion on the issue continues to change, but the business magnate was quick to note that he continues to support the traditional definition of marriage.
"I think really what you have is a very changing stance, and you see it changing very rapidly. If you go back 10 years ago it's very different [...] I think I'm evolving, and I think I'm a very fair person, but I have been for traditional marriage. I am for traditional marriage, I am for a marriage between a man and a woman," Trump told MSNBC's Thomas Roberts this past weekend while the two were in Moscow, Russia for the Miss Universe pageant. Trump and NBC co-own the Miss Universe pageant, and Roberts served as a host for the competition alongside R&B artist Mel B.
Roberts also asked Trump what he thought of the controversy over having the Miss Universe pageant in Russia after the country recently passed a ban on spreading "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors." The country has also received criticism from athletes planning on participating in the Winter Olympic Games this upcoming February over the ban, passed in June. more >>
A Russian politician whose legislative efforts have led to recently passed antigay legislation had his church fire-bombed by unknown assailants.
According to the Russia & India Report, two masked attackers threw Molotov cocktails at The Church of Holy Peter the Metropolitan Bishop of Moscow on Sunday evening. The Muscovite church is where Vitaly Milonov, St Petersburg municipal deputy, volunteers as an altar server.
On Twitter, Milonov blamed "scum" for the attack, which inflicted minor damage on the church, and vowed to "find them and destroy them." more >>
Russian two time gold medalist and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has offered her public support to her country's new law banning "the promotion of unnatural sexual relations" at the Track and Field World Championships in Moscow, and has asked the international community to understand that countries are different and should respect each other's laws.
In her initial comments Isinbayeva said this week (in English, not her native tongue): "If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people. We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys."
She added, "It comes from history. We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future." more >>