Germany's leading newsmagazine reports that German president Joachim Gauck plans to stay home from the Winter Olympics in Sochi to protest Russia's human rights record.
The announcement would make Gauck, a former pastor, the first major political figure to boycott the Games, which will be held at the Black Sea resort in February.Apparently, Gauck's decision isn't just related to Russia's draconian law that effectively bans advocacy of gay rights. Rather, he objects to the Putin government's heavy-handed way of dealing with opposition.
According to a report in the German publication Der Spiegel, Gauck made the decision in protest against human rights violations and the harassment of Russian opposition political figures. The magazine said the Russian government was informed of his decision last week.
The German presidential office could not be reached for comment Sunday. Russia's Presidential Press Service said there was no immediate official reaction to the report.
In Germany, the president's role is almost entirely ceremonial, and he is expected to remain above politics. If a German president chooses to take a stand on an issue, it's a BFD.