Lindsay Lowe

Petersburgs Ice Palace on Sept. 23 and another two days later at Moscows Olimiisky Stadium. However, the Russian government recently denied Gomezs visa request, forcing her to cancel the gigs. Officials did not specify a reason for the denial, but the decision comes as the former communist nation tightens access to international musicians who publicly support gay rights. Russia recently adopted a controversial new law prohibiting the promotion of gay propaganda to minors, and even talking about gay relationships or waving a rainbow flag can be subject to enormous fines or even deportation. The country has also experienced a surge of violent anti-gay hate crimes. This summer, officials threatened pop superstars Lady Gaga and Madonna with prosecution after both singers stood up for LGBT rights during their performances. And earlier this month, Cher claimed she rejected an invitation to perform at the Sochi Winter Olympics in protest to Russias anti-gay legislation. In the wake of these singers acts of solidarity with Russias LGBT community, the website Change.org launched a petition urging Selena Gomez to take a public stand for gay rights during her shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Next week Gomez is scheduled to perform two concerts in Russia, a country thats currently bullying and persecuting its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens, the petition reads. As an international pop star she has a unique platformand a special obligationto join other celebrities like Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Cher in speaking out against the Russian governments bullying of LGBT people.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said the Amsterdam-registered ship was being towed to Murmansk but might not arrive until Monday. It said there were 27 people on board, including four Russian citizens. The regional unit of Russias Investigative Committee said it was considering bringing charges of piracy, which can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in jail. The FSB denied the environmental campaign groups assertion that the ship had been in international waters when it was seized. Greenpeace, which aimed to draw attention to the threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem from expanding oil drilling, said it had had no contact with the crew in many hours, and that law enforcement officers had damaged the ships communications equipment. The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the Greenpeace protest was aggressive and provocative and bore outward signs of extremist activity that could lead to peoples deaths and other grave consequences. It said it had summoned the Dutch ambassador to complain. Greenpeace said the real threat to the region was not its campaign ship but reckless energy exploitation. The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them, Ben Ayliffe, the groups Arctic oil campaign head, said in a statement. They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout. Gazprom declined to comment. Russia has made tapping the regions hard-to-reach resources a priority, and production from the Prirazlomnoye deposit is expected to start later this year, after delays that Gazprom blamed on technical issues. Readers are encouraged to flag comments that fail to meet the standards outlined in our Community Code of Conduct .

Russia’s anti-gay law could hit Olympic sponsors

russia olympic rings

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June, sparking global outrage and a wave of protests demanding a boycott of the Games, which will be held in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in February. There’s no sign of athletes staying away but others big names are distancing themselves from the event. Just this week pop singer Cher said she had refused an invitation to perform because of Russia’s anti-gay stance. Related: Bars worldwide boycott Russian vodka over anti-gay laws Putin said in an interview on state television in September that gay people would not be discriminated against at the Sochi Games. But that appears at odds with statements made by government officials that the anti-gay propaganda law will be enforced. The legislation gives authorities the power to impose fines as well as detain foreigners who are deemed to have breached the law before deporting them. Four Dutch tourists reportedly making a film about gay rights in Russia were arrested under the law in July. The other big Olympic sponsors are Visa ( V , Fortune 500 ), Samsung ( SSNLF ), Panasonic ( PCRFF ), General Electric ( GE , Fortune 500 ), Dow Chemical ( DOW , Fortune 500 ), Procter & Gamble ( PG , Fortune 500 ), Omega ( OCFN ) and Atos ( ATOS ). They’re staying tight-lipped about the issue in public but a senior official at the International Olympic Committee said this month that several had raised concerns about how the law could affect the Games. “I have heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, of what they are afraid of might happen,” IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg said. “I think this could ruin a lot for all of us,” he added, saying the IOC would enforce its rules against demonstrations.