We May Change Syria Position If President Assad ‘cheats’, Russia Says

Critics say it infringes gay rights and are worried that spectators waving rainbow flags or wearing rainbow T-shirts could be arrested at the Games. Major sponsors such as Coca-Cola ( CCE , Fortune 500 ) and McDonald’s ( MCD , Fortune 500 ) are concerned about the risk of high-profile protests at the Games. Such demonstrations may draw attention to them for the wrong reasons and fuel calls for a boycott of their products. 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. Related: Olympics win boosts Japan stocks A spokesperson for Coca-Cola said the company has been “straightforward in our many discussions with the IOC about our expectations regarding safety and security [at the Games] …and will continue to engage directly with the IOC on this paramount priority.” Companies pay an estimated $100 million to become a major Olympic sponsor.

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“I am speaking theoretically and hypothetically, but if we become convinced that (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad is cheating, we can change our position,” the Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. He was speaking at a conference in Stockholm organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Ivanov did not clarify his remarks, and reiterated Russia’s opposition to intervention in the country wrought by civil war that has killed over 110,000 in 30 months. He added that he expects the locations of the Syrian chemical arsenal to be disclosed within a week, but cautioned that the army does not control the entire country. “We still don’t know, where the chemical weapons are located geographically. I think this will become clear within a week,” Ivanov said. The US-Russian plan to dismantle the chemical arms stockpile has helped prevent US-led military action following a chemical attack last month that killed hundreds of people and which Washington blames on the regime. Under the plan, Assad’s regime had until today to supply details of its arsenal. On the eve of the disclosure deadline, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it “has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons programme.” Russia has strongly opposed sanctions or strikes against Assad’s regime and has said the sarin gas attack on August 21 was likely perpetrated by the rebels. President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that he “doesn’t know” if Russia can convince Assad to destroy his chemical arsenal. “So far, everything looks as if Syria has completely agreed with our proposal,” he said, adding that the regime’s actions “inspire confidence.” ALSO ON TOI

Russia Today Airs Dubious Video Of Syria Chemical Attack Claiming To Show Rebels Using Sarin Gas From Brown Moses Blog (VIDEO)

(You can read his full breakdown here .) Ignoring those doubts, state-run Russia Today aired the videos on Tuesday, using Moses’ prominence in reporting on weapons in the Syrian conflict as “proof” of their verity. According to a transcript of the segment posted on the Brown Moses blog , RT correspondent Paul Scott characterizes the blogger as “a staunch critic of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” noting then how “interesting” it is that he has publicized footage “that suggests that it actually could be the Syrian opposition that had been using these chemical weapons.” Moses did not take kindly to RT cherry-picking the videos while failing to mention the numerous questions he had regarding their authenticity, responding on his blog to the outlet’s mischaracterization of his original post: To be absolutely clear, I do not consider these videos to be reliable evidence of anything. They came from irregular sources, and are filmed in a way not consistent with videos posted previously by Liwa al-Islam, among other issues. I do not support Russia Today’s use of the credibility of my work to prop up videos I consider to be highly dubious. I believe all credible evidence points to the Syrian military being responsible for the August 21st attack, and have produced large amounts of work examining the evidence that supports that conclusion, which can be found here . To wit, RT is funded by the Russian government and has been little more than a mouthpiece for the state. In an August profile on the network, Der Spiegel described RT as “a sort of ministry of media defense for the Kremlin” that has “a rare knack for propaganda.” It would be in keeping with its modus operandi to air a skewed, one-sided segment that supports Vladimir Putin’s oft-repeated claim that it was, in fact, the Syrian rebels who carried out last month’s chemical attack. Still, RT needs to get its state-fed story straight: less than two weeks ago, it published an interview dispelling the notion that an attack had taken place at all , based on an interview with a nun who had analyzed the footage and concluded it was fraudulent. Also on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises from buildings due to heavy artillery shelling in Barzeh, a district of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) In this frame grab from video taken Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, and provided by “CBS This Morning,” Syrian President Bashar Assad responds to a question from journalist Charlie Rose during an interview in Damascus, Syria. Assad warned in the interview broadcast Monday on CBS there will be retaliation against the U.S. for any military strike launched in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack. Assad said, “You should expect everything.” (AP Photo/CBS This Morning) Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem speaks to the media after his talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, unseen, in Moscow on Monday, Sept.