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Russia Eases Curbs On Protests At Sochi Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visit the mountain Laura Cross Country and Biathlon Center near the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 3 to oversee preparations for next month's Olympics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has eased a ban on demonstrations in Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games that begin on February 7.

A decree issued by the Kremlin says that "assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and pickets not related" to the Olympics can be held in Sochi with the approval of the town's administration and local Interior Ministry officials.

The new decree replaces one issued in August that forbid any rallies or protests in Sochi that were not connected to the Olympic or Paralympic games.

Rights groups had said such a ban violated the constitution.

The Russian government has been criticized internationally for a law banning the spread of "gay propaganda" among minors, with some calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics because of the law.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP