Sneaky Tricks Putin is Pulling to Stave Off Criticism During the Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

By Ludmila Krytynskaia, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist

President Vladimir Putin lifted a blanket ban on protests and rallies in Sochi shortly before the Olympic Games were launched, thereby fulfilling his promise to the International Olympic Committee to relax the rules governing protests in the city.

The easing of the protest ban coupled with the release of dozens of high-profile prisoners last month – including former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot – has led to speculation in the Western media about whether these decisions were a sign of a political thaw in Russia, a result of diplomatic behind-the-scenes maneuverings or just a public relations stunt to stave off criticism of the human rights situation in the country on the eve of the Olympics.

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Something’s Rotten in the State of Denmark: A Tale of Two Identities

Josh Bryan is an American transgender man living in Denmark © Private.

Josh Bryan is an American transgender man living in Denmark © Private.

Josh Bryan is an American living in Copenhagen, where he helped to launch a recent Amnesty International report on discrimination against transgender people in the European Union. Below, he tells his story how strict Danish legislation has left him trapped in a system that doesn’t recognize his true identity while demanding that he surgically change his body.

My story is about being stuck in two legal identities. I live in Denmark, a country that prides itself on its liberalism and welfare for its citizens. However, the Danish legislation is very strict when it comes to transgender people – people whose gender identities don’t align with the legal gender they were assigned at birth – and that is why I’m now trapped in the system.

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