WATCH: Russian Activist Detained for Unfurling Rainbow Flag
BY Sunnivie Brydum
January 22 2014 3:56 PM ET
Despite numerous — and ongoing — "assurances" from Russian officials that everyone will be "safe" and "comfortable" at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, one Russian activist who dared to wave a rainbow flag as the Olympic torch passed through his hometown was tackled to the ground and arrested Saturday.
Video of the confrontation began circulating online today, where it's clearly visible that activist Pavel Lebedev is tackled and detained for briefly unfurling a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch's procession through the city of Voronezh, about 560 miles north of Sochi.
After refusing to relinquish the flag even as an officer tried to wrest the cloth from him hands, Lebedev was detained and transported to the local police station "to clarify the circumstances of the incident," according to a post on Russian social networking site Vkontakte from the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality.
A spokeswoman for a coalition of LGBT organizations in Russia told BuzzFeed that Lebedev could be fined for "violating public order" since he ran into the street carrying the rainbow flag.
"He was detained because the track for the torch relay is closed and no one is allowed past the fens," Anastasia Smirnova told BuzzFeed via email.
Lebedev is an outspoken LGBT activist who was part of five same-sex couples who attempted to marry at a St. Petersburg registrar's office last June but were instead detained by police. BuzzFeed notes that Lebedev was also attacked last January during a protest he organized to oppose Russia's so-called gay propaganda ban, which prohibits "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in areas visible to minors.
Watch video of the confrontation below.