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Russia defends anti-gay law in letter to International Olympic Committee

BY STEPHEN WILSON, AP SPORTS WRITER

LONDON -- The Russian government assured the IOC on Thursday it will not discriminate against homosexuals during the Sochi Olympics, while defending the law against gay "propaganda" that has provoked an international backlash.

The IOC received a letter from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak giving reassurances the host country will comply fully with the Olympic Charter's provision against discrimination of any kind.

"The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety," Kozak said.

However, Kozak did not back down on the issue of the new law, which penalizes anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that "nontraditional" relationships are normal or attractive.

The law applies equally to everyone and "cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation," Kozak said.

The letter still leaves open the question of what would happen to Olympic athletes or fans if they make statements or gestures that could be considered propaganda.

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