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Putin backs off protest ban for Olympics

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has rescinded a blanket ban on demonstrations in and around the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi.

An order published on the Kremlin's website Saturday says that meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, marches and picketing that are not connected with the Games may be held in places or along routes approved by the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the country's police.

Putin last year ordered a ban on any demonstrations in Sochi not connected with the Games from Jan. 7 to March 21. The move was widely criticized by human rights organizations.

Although the Saturday order lifts the blanket ban, Russian authorities generally are stingy about granting rally permission to opposition groups and critics.

Last month, International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach said Russia had promised to set up public protest zones in Sochi. It was not clear if the order published Saturday envisioned limiting demonstrations to such zones.

President Vladimir Putin has rescinded last year’s restrictions.

President Vladimir Putin has rescinded last year’s restrictions.

Putin backs off protest ban for Olympics 01/04/14 [Last modified: Sunday, January 5, 2014 12:23am]

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