Putin eases security limits on protests during Sochi Games

Sochi Games are scheduled to run from February 7 to 23.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has relaxed some of the terms of a prohibition on demonstrations in Sochi during next month’s Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort.

The Sochi Games are scheduled to run from February 7 to 23.

An announcement from the Kremlin quoted by the International Sports Press, AIPS, said that Mr. Putin signed a decree that permitted “free” protests, under strict conditions.

The move, it said, was a further gesture to international concerns after the freeing of several high-profile detainees such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Pussy Riot band members and Greenpeace activists.

Mr. Putin’s decision was welcomed by the International Olympic Committee which said it was in line with the assurances that the Russian President Putin gave the committee last year.

The IOC, headed since September by its new President, Thomas Bach, had expressed concerns that various security and legislative moves by the Russian government might not be in line with the Olympic Charter.

Mr. Bach, however, announced in December, after the first IOC executive board meeting of his presidency that he was told that demonstration zones would be created in Sochi.

Mr. Putin, who took to the ski slopes himself this week during an inspection visit to Sochi, ruled that demonstrations were possible but only in consultation with all security authorities of the city.

He said such demonstrations must be set down at predetermined locations. Officials could also limit the number of participants in the demonstrations.

In August, Mr. Putin had imposed a ban on demonstrations in and around Sochi from January 7 to March 21, five days after the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

Security concerns about the Sochi Winter Games have expanded to cover all of western and southern Russia after more than 30 people were killed in two terrorist bomb blasts in Volgograd at the start of the week.

(NAN)

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