WASHINGTON, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – A week after senior US lawmaker Sen. Chuck Schumer called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “schoolyard bully,” on Monday he urged athletes marching in the opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year to wave the rainbow flag to show support for gay rights and embarrass the Russian leader.
“When we march initially, all the countries should wave the multicolored flag for gay rights. That would be pretty embarrassing for Putin, let our athletes participate and still take a stand,” Schumer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
Putin signed legislation in June that bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors. Russia's Interior Ministry, which controls the police force, confirmed Monday that the controversial anti-gay law will be enforced during the Sochi Olympics, which are due to be held from February 7-23.
Appearing on MSNBC, Schumer dismissed calls to boycott the Sochi Games, saying “all these athletes train for so long.” But he did say, “Standing up to Putin right now is important because he’s a bully.”
The senior senator from New York also explained why he thinks US-Russia relations have soured so much since Putin returned to power last year.
Schumer blamed the Russian leader for harboring resentment on several issues, but particularly over Russia’s loss of stature as a world power.
“He resents being an old KGB guy, being brought up when the Soviet Union and the US went head to head,” Schumer said of Putin.
“He resents that Russia is no longer the major power in the world that it used to be. Its population, of course, with all the states – Ukraine, all the Baltic states, the east Asian states gone -- they’re no longer a big power,” Schumer said, adding that Putin should try to rebuild Russia’s stature by growing the country’s economy, not by “stepping on somebody’s back, namely ours.”
The White House announced last week that President Barack Obama will not attend a summit meeting with Putin next month in Moscow, citing US disappointment with Russia’s decision to give refuge to American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden but also saying that there was little hope that the two leaders would make progress on key issues on the countries’ agendas.