German President Joachim Gauck has decided, due to Russia’s human rights violations, that he will not be attending the Sochi Games in February next year.
Gauck informed the Kremlin of his resolution last week, according to magazine Der Spiegel. He explained that it was a moral decision against Russia’s breach of human rights.
Recently Russia has spearheaded a series of human rights violations, including the infamous anti-gay propaganda law. The government is currently assessing whether to remove children from LGBT homes in Russia, and Putin has already halted virtually all international adoptions of Russian children.
The country has also been placing pressure on the Ukraine recently, in an attempt to stop them from joining the European Union.
The announcement makes Gauck the first political figure to boycott the games, setting the precedent for other heads-of-state.
The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, has stated that boycotting the games would harm the athletes more than it would anyone else.
The Spiegel Online reported that a member of the United Russia party, Robert Schegel, has spoken out against the move saying Gauck’s decision may be “personally justifiable, but…politically dumb.” He went on to add that the decision could sour relations between Germany and Russia.
However, Gauck’s relationship with Putin has always been tense. His father served time in a Soviet prison, and later became a civil rights activist. He also became involved with the East German secret police, the Stasi, which ended an entire spy network and brought to justice those who abused human rights.
CNN reported that Gauck’s office is downplaying his decision not to attend, claiming “He simply decided not to go…we’re not saying anything about his motivations.”