The soda conglomerate, which is serving as one of the official sponsors of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia next month, has released a statement regarding the arrest and fining of LGBT activist Pavel Lebedev, who stepped into the road and unfurled a rainbow flag during the Torch Relay in the town of Voronezh earlier this week.
A video of the incident shows security guards sporting the Coca-Cola logo tackling Lebedev and attempting to rip the flag from his hands.
Although Coca-Cola “values and celebrates diversity” and “does not condone human rights abuses,” they’re totally cool with Russian police abusing human rights in this instance. After all, they paid hundreds of millions of dollars to slap their logos on the homophobic Russian police.
In a statement released yesterday, Coke says:
As a Presenting Partner of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay, our logo appears on all of the uniforms for the staff assigned by the Sochi Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) to support the Torch Relay.
SOCOG reported that a spectator was prevented from breaching the security perimeter around the Torchbearer. The spectator was detained briefly by local police and was fined.
Sure, it’s important to note that Lebedev stepped out onto the road, breaching some kind of safety barrier and therefore attracting the attention of police, but that was not the reason he was detained and fined.
AmericaBlog knows what’s up:
What transpires in the video is that the Russian police officer initially isn’t aware of what the rainbow flag even is. Some in the surrounding crowd of spectators are well aware, and goad the police officer to ask Pavel what kind of flag it is. So the cop does. Pavel refuses to answer. In the meantime, at least one spectator tells the officer that the flag is “propaganda,” using that codeword for illegal political activity.
Pavel repeatedly asks the officer for the reason for his detention, and the officer refuses to say, finally stating that Pavel will be taken away to the station for questioning to “clarify the circumstances.” Pavel was not taken away for trespassing on the parade route, or he would have been told that, Russian LGBT sources tell me. He was taken away for his political speech.
Ah, the sweet, sweet taste of homophobia. Proudly brought to you by Coca-Cola.