State Department Issues Travel Alert for U.S. Citizens Planning to Attend Sochi Olympics
Posted on January 11, 2014The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens planning to attend the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The alert follows two recent bombings in Volgograd, Russia and mysterious dead bodies and explosives found in an area of Russia closer to Sochi.
The travel alert advises travelers that "medical care in many Russian localities differs substantially from Western standards." It also warns that large-scale public events, like the Olympics, are an attractive target for terrorists. The advisory goes on to mention recent terrorist attacks in Russia and a threat issued by Doku Umarov, the head of terrorist organization, calling for attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The travel advisory also mentions LGBT issues. This part of the advisory mentions a law passed in Russia in July.
In June 2013, Russia's State Duma passed a law banning the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia. Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation. The law makes it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public, but lacks concrete legal definitions for key terms. Russian authorities have indicated a broad interpretation of what constitutes "LGBT propaganda," and provided vague guidance as to which actions will be interpreted by authorities as "LGBT propaganda."