Russian punk rock band member calls for Sochi Olympic boycott

Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:16pm EST
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By Anastasia Gorelova and Ian Bateson

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A member of the Pussy Riot punk band has called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to oppose what she called a campaign of "tightening the screws" against opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was freed after serving several months of a two-year jail sentence over a protest against Putin in a Russian Orthodox church, likened the situation to the run-up to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, boycotted by dozens of nations.

"An event which should be purely about sport is becoming highly politicized and rife with conflict. Our authorities are to blame for that," Samutsevich told Reuters Television.

"It (a boycott) has to happen because the latest policies go too far," she said, referring to laws Putin's critics regard as repressive and criminal cases against opponents that she alleged were falsified.

"They are obviously tightening the screws," she said.

"I think a lot of people will boycott (the Games)."

Putin has staked a lot of personal political prestige on hosting a successful Games in February in Sochi, a Black Sea resort, but faces international criticism of a law banning the spread of "gay propaganda" law among minors.

Despite indignation over the law abroad, no country has said it will boycott the Olympics, on which Russia is expected to spend more than $50 billion.   Continued...

Yekaterina Samutsevich, freed member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, takes part in a news conference in Moscow May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov