European Commission Vice-President boycotts Sochi over minority rights

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has announced that she would not attend the Olympic Games in Russia this winter.

On Monday, she tweeted that she would “certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation”.

She made this announcement on the eve of the International Day of Human Rights, when the large international solidarity campaign Uprising for Love launched to support human rights activists in Russia.

Minorities, including ethnic minorities and LGBT persons, live under an increasingly hostile regime in Russia. Notably, the Foreign Agents Law and Anti-Propaganda Laws severely limit free speech for those wishing to defend human rights.

Calls for boycotting the Sochi games were expressed before, but activists in Russia have responded that the Olympics were a unique platform to show international solidarity.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, commented: “I welcome Ms Reding’s clear stance, which sends the right signal to Russian authorities.”

“I’m glad the Commissioner stands in solidarity with minorities in Russia.”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, continued: “I welcome Ms Reding’s principled stand, even if her support for LGBT issues inside the EU has been rather tame during her mandate.”

” In Parliament we are particularly missing her commitment on an LGBT roadmap, which would ensure a better life for LGBT people. But I welcome her principled stand.”