Hosting the 2014 Winter Games is clearly valuable to President Putin and his government — at the very least, someone paid dearly to convince the International Olympic Committee to host the Games in such an unlikely place. And yet, Moscow’s recent anti-gay legislation tarnishes the Games and threatens to turn them into a highly politicized event.
Moscow has made it illegal for any person to discuss gay rights and relationships anywhere near children. This has drawn backlash from numerous countries and athletes and caused some to consider boycotting the games. This legislation (and its timing) is especially puzzling given how the Russian govenrment intends to enforce it. Moscow has promised that there will be no “danger” to visitors to the Olympics, but it has also promised to uphold all federal laws during the Games no matter who commits the crime
So today’s puzzler is this: Why would President Putin support anti-gay laws the year before a big international event knowing the international backlash that was likely to follow? What does he gain by both threatening prosecution and then also promising to leave non-Russians alone?