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Italian Gay Rights Activist Says She Was Detained in Sochi

<p>Sochi police say they have no record of a detention.</p>
Vladimir Luxuria, former Italian MP, at an event in 2009.
Vladimir Luxuria, former Italian MP, at an event in 2009.Stefano Montesi / Demotix via Corbis, file

SOCHI, Russia — An Italian gay rights activist said she was detained by police after unfurling a “Gay is OK” rainbow banner in the Olympic city of Sochi.

Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former member of the Italian Parliament, made the claim on her website. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica also posted video in which Luxuria said, in English, that the police wanted to seize the banner.

“They wanted to keep it, and I said, ‘No, I want it back,’” she said in the La Repubblica video.

Sochi police “do not confirm” the detention, a spokesman told NBC News on Monday. Aleksandra Kosterina, a spokeswoman for Sochi Olympic organizers, said that organizers had talked to police, who “have no info on it at all.”

A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, Mark Adams, told reporters: “On the wider issue, as we have said very often, I am sure the Games will not be used as a platform for any demonstration and we hope that continues.”

Gay rights has been a political flashpoint of the Sochi Games. Russia passed a law last year criminalizing the promotion of gay “propaganda” to children, and human rights organizations say Russian gays are routinely attacked, beaten and intimidated.

— Erin McClam and Irina Tkachenko