Rutte and Putin discuss gay rights at Sochi

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Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday at Sochi, and used the opportunity to discuss gay rights in Russia.  Rutte is in Sochi as part of the Dutch delegation who are visiting the Olympic Games. The official Twitter account of the Prime Minister tweeted on Friday: "after discussion Putin: concerns Dutch government and population communicated about human rights and specific rights of LGBT'ers in Russia".

He also informed the Russian president that the Netherlands has "big problems" with the ban on the promotion of "'non-traditional sexual relations' to minors." No remarks were made on the subject matter of the discussion. The RVD (Royal Information Service) says that it was a "good discussion", in which Rutte also pointed out that all the Russian citizens should receive protection from the Russian authorities and the police. Their sexual preferences should not make a difference with that. Apart from the rights of lesbians, homosexuals, trans- and bi-sexuals, Rutte also spoke to Putin about Dutch-Russian relations, reciprocal economic interests and foreign politics. The Netherlands earlier also brought in human rights, in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Next to Rutte, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are also present in Sochi. Minister Edith Schippers (Sport) will arrive as well. The heavy delegation has led to a storm of critics in the Netherlands. Among others, gay rights organization COC would have liked to see that the Netherlands did not send official representatives, as a statement against anti-gay laws in Russia. Rutte had, preceding his visit to Sochi, promised the House of Parliament that he would confront the issue of human rights organization in Russia. COC Nederland presses that the Netherlands "should never have been allowed to send such a heavy delegation to the Olympic Games in Sochi." "A bright spot is that Prime Minister Rutte came through on his promise to us. He told Putin that Russia should protect the gays, lesbians and transgenders in the country", a spokesperson for COC said. The organization is happy with Rutte's comment that the Russia's anti-gay law should be abolished. According to Reuters, however, Putin wanted to use the meeting with Rutte for opposite goals, making it clear that he does not believe the Sochi Winter Olympics to be the place for such discussions. He told Rutte "I know you always give much attention to humanitarian issues and adherence to human rights. We are always open to discussion."

Ex-CDA politician Eurling said that he had a 'relaxed' conversation with Putin. "I gave him a signal. I told him president Putin: I hope that these games won't only be good with regards to sport success, but especially will also be a moral example of freedom and tolerance." "I hope that you will be able to really surprise the world with that. He said" I will try my extreme hardest for that. We shall see in the coming weeks", Eurling said to the Limburg channel L1.

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