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Putin Urges Gays At Sochi To 'Leave Our Children Alone'

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) poses for a picture with volunteers who will take part in the preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games during a meeting in Sochi on January 17.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says homosexuals should feel "free" and "calm" at the Winter Olympic Games, but asked them to "please leave our children alone."

Meeting with Olympic volunteers in Sochi on January 17, Putin told them Russia had no ban on "nontraditional sexual relations between people."

But he said "the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia" is prohibited.

Putin said Russia was freer than many other countries, "including the United States, where in some states there is criminal responsibility for nontraditional sexual orientation." The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2003 that such laws were unconstitutional.

Russia received international criticism when Putin signed a law in June 2013 banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors.

Some activists called for a boycott of the Olympics to protest the law, which they say is used to persecute homosexuals.

The Sochi Olympics takes place from February 6 to 23.

Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, and AP