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Russia Bans Rallies During Sochi Olympics

A gay-rights activist holds a poster reading "Love is stronger than homophobia!" while siting inside a police van after his detention during an unauthorized rally in central Moscow in May.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned demonstrations and rallies for 2 1/2 months in the southern city of Sochi around the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The official government newspaper, "Rossiiskaya gazeta," published a presidential decree on August 23 that listed an array of measures tightening security in the Black Sea resort hosting the Games.

It said all "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and pickets" will be prohibited from January 7 to March 21.

The Winter Olympics are taking place in Sochi on February 7-23, and the Paralympics are being held on March 7-16.

The move was immediately denounced by activists as unconstitutional, and something that could be used to justify the dispersal by police of any protests.

Gay activists have said they planned to stage protests in Sochi against Russia's controversial law banning homosexual "propaganda."

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and ITAR-TASS