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A Russian LGBT activist has been arrested in Voronezh, 900km north of Sochi, for unfolding a rainbow pride flag during the Olympic torch relay.

Pavel Lebedev was grappled to the snow by Olympic security personnel and taken into the police station "to clarify the circumstances of the incident", according to a post by the group Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality on VKontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook).

Lebedev told AP: "Hosting the games here contradicts the basic principles of the Olympics, which is to cultivate tolerance."

The activist was attacked at a gay rights protest in Vorozeneh in January 2013. The man who kicked him in the stomach at the protest, organised against the gay propaganda law, was sentenced to two months in a labour camp.

Lebedev and his partner also attempted to get married at a registry office in St Petersburg last June but they were rejected by authorities.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that gays would not be persecuted at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games as long as they "leave children alone". Putin told Olympic volunteers that Russian laws were more liberal then those in certain US states.

Russia's gay community has reported a rise in homophobic violence following the approval of the legislation banning "homosexual propaganda".