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Grim build up to Sochi Olympics as documentary exposes homophobic hate groups

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It is difficult to remember a more controversial buildup to an Olympic Games since Moscow 1980 when the United States boycotted the event entirely. But with the Sochi 2014 opening ceremony rapidly approaching, the PR is lurching from grim to catastrophic.

With terrorism attacks, unfinished facilities and journalists tweeting from sub standard hotel rooms in a manner similar to India’s Commonwealth Games, the pervasive air of homophobia has been haunting Russia’s latest ascent to the spotlight. Tonight, Channel 4 is set to broadcast a Dispatches special entitled ‘Hunted’ which captures on film the activities of militant homophobic groups in Russia.

The program examines the groups ‘Parents of Russia’ and ‘Occupy Paedophilia’ who are at the forefront of anti-gay persecution, intimidation and violence, a tone that chimes disturbingly with subtext of Kremlin statements.

Liz Mackean, the journalist behind the program said “We filmed these groups with their knowledge, and what I found shocking afterwards was that only a few asked to have their faces disguised. They all believe they are doing the right thing. Occupy Paedophilia has groups in more than 30 cities. They operate with impunity and under the cover of the remarks Putin has made suggesting that children are at risk from homosexuals.” The name of the group alone is a deliberate attempt to equate homosexuality with paedophilia.

The groups lure homosexuals to ‘meetings’ with a variety of internet ruses before intimidating them into forced ‘confessions’ or degrading acts, even handing out rope for people to hang themselves with

A protest is scheduled to be held in London today, targeted largely at the Western sponsors of the games. Campaigner Peter Tatchell said:

"None of the corporate sponsors have explicitly condemned the Russian anti-gay law or homophobic violence in Russia. They've made only general, vague equality statements. This isn't good enough.

"I would have expected them to make a simple statement such as: 'We are deeply concerned about new Russian legislation that discriminates against the LGBT community. We deplore the homophobic violence that is taking place in Russia.' It is shameful and cowardly that they feel unable to say this."

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