Putin says gays 'can feel safe' at Sochi Winter Olympics
January 17, 2014 -- Updated 1608 GMT (0008 HKT)
- Russian President Vladimir Putin says homosexuals have nothing to fear in Russia
- "You can feel safe and free here, but please leave our children in peace," he says
- His remarks come as he meets volunteers for the upcoming Winter Olympics
- Putin told ambassadors Thursday the games would be held "without any discrimination"
Sochi, Russia (CNN) -- Russia's Vladimir Putin again sought to downplay fears that gay visitors will be discriminated against as he paid a visit to the Sochi area Friday, exactly three weeks before the Winter Olympics get under way.
Putin's remarks came as he met with volunteers for the games, the state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The President said Russia, unlike some other countries, does not criminalize homosexual relationships.
"We don't outlaw anything and don't nab anyone," Putin said.
Russian gay parents fear losing children
Russian gay rights activist may lose job
Gays face hatred attacks in Russia
"That's why you can feel safe and free here, but please leave our children in peace," he added.
Russia has come under international pressure since its parliament passed a law last summer outlawing "gay propaganda." The legislation makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality.
The law has been widely criticized by Western leaders who have called it archaic and discriminatory. Human rights activists say it proves Russia is unworthy of hosting the latest Winter Olympics.
Putin's meeting with the Olympic volunteers came a day after he told foreign ambassadors in Moscow that the event would be held "without any discrimination" against athletes and visitors.
"The games will be held in complete compliance with the Olympic Charter, without any discrimination on the basis of any characteristic," Putin said Thursday, according to state media.
The Olympic Charter states that: "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."
Former gay Olympian: Don't boycott Sochi
Gay culture alive in Sochi, Russia
President Obama skipping Sochi Olympics
Security has been stepped up in and around Sochi ahead of the Games.
A twin bomb attack on public transit in the southern city of Volgograd at the end of December heightened concerns that Islamist terrorists may seek to strike in Sochi.
There was a heavy police presence on the streets of the Black Sea resort Friday as Putin visited the area.
Two security blimps also hovered in the skies above the Sochi Olympic Village, allowing long-range monitoring of activities on the ground.
Meanwhile, last-minute construction work continues apace ahead of the expected influx of 6,000 athletes from 85 countries and thousands more visitors from around the world.
The event has cost at least $50 billion to stage, including major infrastructure work in and around Sochi.
READ: Is Russia about to pass another anti-gay law?
READ: Russia's 'anti-gay' law pushes gay community into shadows
CNN's Nic Robertson reported from Sochi and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London. CNN's Phil Black and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0915 GMT (1715 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.