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Russian official tells people to 'calm down' about new anti-gay laws and Olympics

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Jamie Squire

The same Russian ministry of sports who a week ago said Olympians and fans would be subject to the country's new anti-gay laws next year in Sochi, today told everyone to "calm down" and "relax."

"I want to ask you to calm down as in addition to this law we have a constitution that guarantees all citizens a private life," sports minister Vitali Mutko told a news conference.

"It is not intended to deprive people of any religion, race or sexual orientation but to ban the promotion of non-traditional relations among the young generation.

"I was in Sochi yesterday and all the athletes and organizations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected...but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in."

At the same time, Lamine Diack, the head of track and field's international governing body said that Russia's new anti-gay laws should be respected. Moscow is the site of this year's world track and field championships.

‘I don't feel there is a problem whatsoever,' Diack told a press conference in Moscow.

‘Russia has their laws. Each athlete can have their own private life, so we won't call upon people about this and that.

‘This law has to be respected. We are here for the World Championships and have no problem whatsoever and I'm not worried at all.'

Diack is from Senegal, where same-sex activity is illegal and the message he is sends shows that he doesn't care about the rights of LGBT people. As for the Mutko, the sports minister, it's clear that he was surprised by how his original comments last week got attention, but his telling people to calm down is patronizing and insulting and does nothing to address the fact that these terrible laws are on the books.