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WASHINGTON Amid boycotts of Russian vodka and talk of boycotting the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, United States Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) spoke out Monday against anti-gay legislation that Pres. Vladimir Putin signed into law.

The law prohibits anyone from talking openly about LGBT rights in Russia. Many are concerned same-sex couples could be targeted for showing affection in public.

Background: Russia will enforce anti-gay law during Olympics

Merkley has introduced legislation that would pressure Russia to shield Americans from the law during the games.

I don t' think Russia wants to be in the position where they're being criticized by the world for conducting games in a discriminatory environment, he said on MSNBC Monday morning. It's not right for athletes, for coaches, for the audience. It s not right in any conceivable way.

Merkley said he believes Putin will agree to protect foreigners if he receives enough international pressure.

More: Russian anti-gay laws inspire talk of Sochi boycotts

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