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US issues travel alert for Sochi Olympics, includes warning to LGBT Americans about to visit Russia

BY MATTHEW LEE
AP DIPLOMATIC WRITER

WASHINGTON -- Americans planning to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, should be vigilant about their security due to potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care, the State Department advised Friday.

In a travel alert, the department said it was not aware of specific threats to U.S. interests related to the Games that begin next month. But it said large events like the Olympics are "an attractive target for terrorists" and Americans should be aware of their surroundings and take common-sense precautions to stay safe, notably on public transport.

The alert also advised lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to review the State Department's LGBT travel information page if they plan to visit Sochi for the Games, noting that Russia has in place a law that bans the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. It said authorities have been vague about defining "propaganda" and that the law applies to foreigners. A conviction on the charge could result in a fine, a jail term and deportation.

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