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Putin bans rallies in Olympic Sochi for 2.5 months

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree banning demonstrations and rallies in Sochi for two and a half months around the Winter Olympics.

The decree, published in the government newspaper Friday, says all "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets" that are not part of the Olympics or Paralympics will be prohibited in Sochi from Jan. 7 to March 21.

The Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi on Feb. 7-23 and the Paralympics March 7-16.

The decree also orders other measures aimed at tightening security in Sochi, such as restricting vehicle entry.

Government-imposed protest bans across entire cities where Olympics are held are unusual, and Putin's decree could be aimed at heading off demonstrations against Russia's ban on so-called gay propaganda.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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