Corendon cuts prices for Sotsji protestors
Corendon is giving 50 percent off tickets for people who want to add their voices to the anti-gay protests during the Winter Olympics in Sotsji.
“If you do not agree with the policies of Russia, you should be there. You don’t have to be gay to protest there,” Atilay Uslu, CEO of Corendon Vacations said in a BNR radio broadcast today. He said the discount applies to anyone who orders a ticket over the phone and is for gay rights. A spokesperson from the company shaved off some of the sharp nuance later: “People do not have to go over to protest. It certainly is not our intention to encourage people to go over there and demonstrate.” The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics is set for February 7 Sotsji has been at the center of the resurfaced gay rights debate lately, following Russia's parliament's approval in June 2013 of a law banning the promotion of "non-traditional" sexuality to under-18s, which was widely seen as an attack on gay rights. Many countries, including Germany, France, Belgium, Britain and the United States, have decided not to attend the games in protest of a Russia’s law that bans propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships. The Netherlands is sending a team and the King and Queen will be in attendance, which has sparked mass criticism. A spokesperson for Corendon said company management has always been of the opinion that the Olympics were being overshadowed by the gay rights issue. “We feel that the Olympics should be for everybody, gay or not. It’s about sports; about winning a medal,” she said. She explained that the discount deal offer is to encourage people who have not yet decided to go. “We’ll see if this pulls them over the line. We have been getting some calls since my boss made the announcement,” she said. Corendon CEO Uslu said he has visited Sotsji earlier, and in his view the city was the quintessential gay party town in Russia, which was the direct opposite of a statement by the mayor of Sochi earlier this week, who said there are no gay people in his city. Uslu said people who intend to go protest in Sotsji have little to fear. “I did not have the impression that the police there are very strict. You’re allowed to protect,” he said, adding that if a negative travel advice would be issued for the city, Corendon would withdraw the offer for discounts.