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  1. Russia Main Page
  2. The Bolshevik Revolution
  3. Emergence of the USSR
  4. The Berlin Blockade and the Cold War
  5. Dissolution of the USSR
  6. Financial Crisis, Political Upheaval, and Putin's Rise to Power
  7. A Shocking Hostage Situation, a Move Towards Climate Change, and Radiation Poison
  8. Crumbling Relations with the United States and Conflict with Georgia
  9. String of Suicide Bombs Sparks Fear of a Crackdown by Putin
  10. Protests and Unrest Surrounds the 2012 Presidential Election
  11. Russia Blocks U.N. Action in Syria
  12. New Laws Passed against Political Activists, Pussy Riot Arrested
  13. Russia enters the World Trade Organization, Won't Renew Weapons Pact with United States, and Grants Asylum to American Fugitive
  14. Russia Assists with Chemical Weapons Investigation in Syria
  15. International Protests and Multiple Bombings Threaten 2014 Olympics
  16. Russia Annexes Crimea, Experiences Economic Fallout Due to Sanctions
  17. Putin Signs Gas Accord with China, Begins Eurasian Union as Ukraine Fallout Continues
International Protests and Multiple Bombings Threaten 2014 Olympics

During the summer of 2013, Russia's State Duma passed an anti-gay bill with a 436-0 vote. Backed by the Kremlin, the legislation banned the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations." The language of the bill was vague, but it was seen by the international community as an effort to crack down on homosexuality. While the State Duma, or lower house, voted on the bill, more than two dozen protestors were attacked by anti-gay demonstrators and then arrested by police in Moscow. After Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law in July 2013, athletes around the world wondered how this would affect the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The new legislation was part of a push back toward traditional values from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin. The law included a large fine for holding gay pride rallies or for giving any LGBT information to minors. Some of the fines included up to 5,000 rubles for individuals and up to 1 million rubles for organizations. Those caught breaking the new law could be arrested. Foreigners could be deported.

Throughout July and Aug. 2013, Russia's anti-gay bill sparked international protest and outrage. Athletes throughout the world threatened to boycott the 2014 Olympics in protest. The International Olympic Committee began probing Russia to see how the country would enforce the law during the Olympics. In an effort to do damage control over the controversy, the International Olympic Committee said by late July that it had "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games." Meanwhile, FIFA reported that it was also seeking out "clarification and more details" about the new anti-gay law from Russia, which would host the 2018 World Cup.

In July, an international call to boycott Russian vodka gained traction on social media. On July 31, protesters gathered outside the Russian consulate in New York City and called for a boycott of the 2014 Olympics as well as sponsors of the Winter Games by dumping several cases of vodka. On August 10, hundreds gathered in London near the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron and demanded that the government pressure Russia into repealing the law. Prime Minister Cameron responded to the protests on Twitter, "I share your deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia. However, I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics." On Aug. 1, 2013, Vitaly L. Mutko, Russia's minister of sports, said to R-Sport, a state news agency, that gay athletes were welcome to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However, Mutko pointed out that all athletes participating in the games would be expected to obey the new law and that no athlete or attendee could promote any nontraditional sexual orientation.

On Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, at least sixteen people were killed in a suicide bombing at a railroad station in Volgograd, a city in southern Russia. Nearly three dozen others were wounded. The following day another suicide bombing took place on a trolley bus in the same city. At least ten people were killed and ten others were wounded.

Both explosions came just six weeks before the Winter Olympics were being held in Sochi, 400 miles away from Volgograd. Never has a host country experienced this level of violent terrorism so close to the Olympic Games. President Putin vowed to double security in all of Russia's railway stations and airports. During the Olympics, the government has planned for more than 40,000 law enforcement officials to be on hand at the event.

In Jan. 2014, another bomb exploded and suspicious deaths occurred in the Stavropol territory, which borders the province where the Winter Olympics will be held. A vehicle exploded on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. One person was in the car at the time of the explosion. Two other bodies were found nearby. The following day, explosive material was found in another vehicle along with the bodies of three men. Russian authorities began an investigation into all six deaths.

Despite threats of terrorist attacks, complaints about poor preparations, and the international condemnation over their anti-gay law, Russia kicked off the costliest Olympic Games in history on Feb. 7, 2014, with an opening ceremony filled with music, floats and a light show using the most advanced technology available. While the games were originally estimated to cost $12 billion, that number has risen to $50 billion. The opening ceremony was mostly glitch free, although one of the five floating Olympic rings failed to open. Russian President Vladimir Putin attended and officially announced the start of the games during the ceremony.

On the same day as the opening ceremony, a passenger on a Turkish jetliner told the crew that a bomb was on board and to fly the plane to Sochi. Instead, the crew landed in Istanbul. The suspect was taken into custody and no bomb was found. Meanwhile, the United States government banned all liquids, gels, aerosols and powders in carry-on luggage for flights to and from Russia. The ban came after the U.S. issued a warning that explosive material could be concealed in toothpaste tubes.

On Feb. 23, 2014, the Sochi Winter Games closed with an impressive ceremony, including Russia poking fun at its five floating ring opening ceremony malfunction. Despite the controversies and terror threats, the Sochi Games were incident free and considered a success. Russia led the medal count with 33, following by the United States with 28, and Norway with 26.

Next: Russia Annexes Crimea, Experiences Economic Fallout Due to Sanctions
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