Putin Bans All Protests, Rallies, Meetings, and Demonstrations Before And During Sochi Olympics

Vladimir PutinIn the months approaching 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the governing bodies of the games and its soon-to-be host nation have been at odds with LGBT rights advocates over the country's newly-adopted anti-gay "propaganda" law. Russian officials have already promised that the law will be enforced during the Games, and the International Olympic Committee has already threatened penalties against anyone displaying "demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda". Now, a new decree by Russian president Vladimir Putin, banning all "meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets" starting one month prior to the games and ending in March, seems to be shortening the leash for LGBT Olympians even more. 

The decree was posted on RG.ru at the beginning of this week, and later tweeted by ABC's Kirit Radia. According to AmericaBlog:

"This fits a larger pattern of Russian threats against Olympics in the past few weeks, when both the Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, and the Russian Interior Ministry, responsible for overseeing domestic order (i.e., clamping down on dissidents and any public criticism of the Kremlin), threatened to jail gay and gay-friendly Olympians, guests and media during the Sochi games."

Thus far, it is not known if Russian officials had been planning this crackdown as part of the Olympic Games, or if it is a response to any of the number of small displays of LGBT rights advocacy tht have been taking place on Russian soil recently. None of the governing bodies of the Sochi Games have issued a comment on those specific events. Nevertheless, experts are speculating that this upcoming Olympics could prove to be the most unsafe in history. Not because of the so-called "terrorists" named in Putin's decree, mind you. This could be the first time that a host nation of the Olympics has threatened to throw its athletes in jail. 

Sochi LogoAgain, while the IOC has already issued its decision regarding Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, it has yet to explain how this new degree plays into the equation. Say Olympians such as Johnny Weir and Blake Skjellerup decide to make good on their promises? Would it be the IOC that steps in to enforce the law or the Russian government? Even if the decree only really applies to Russian citizens and not Olympic athletes, police in Sochi have already been committing human rights atrocities against citizens and foreign nationals for months. 

Perhaps what's even most troubling about this new decree is how vaguely it's worded. There's no specific definition as to what "terrorism" constitutes, and precisely how it differentiates from exercises in free speech. It also doesn't specify what sort of penalites the decree carries. 

(via americablog)


  1. MaryM says

    The Olympics must be moved from Russia.

    Freedom of assembly is a human right.

    This law removes a human right from ALL Russians (not just LGBT Russians).

    If only the IOC was not a criminal organisation run by bribery, it would be easier to hold it to account.

  2. Geoff says

    Apparently Putin is rocketing backwards (at supersonic speed) to Cold War Soviet Union practices. It is desperately sad, but so be it. Everyone will suffer.

  3. ratbastard says

    These ‘respected’ international organizations like the IOC are dealing with Russia the same way they and others dealt with Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. Ditto the way they all a** kiss communist China, whom they love doing business with. Despicable.

  4. Mike says

    Good. Am glad to see that the Human Rights Watch is FINALLY demanding that candidates for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee declare specifically what they would do with the Russian threat looming over the games in Sochi. The current IOC president Jacques Rogge has been disappointing to say the least. He has been only a model of appeasement and even capitulation in the eyes of some. Big bucks are at work here, and doing what is right tends to fall by the wayside. Like any country, Russia signed a pledge to host the Olympics that is against “ANY form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender, or otherwise” To do so is forbidden. This they have clearly violated by their statements before the games have even started.
    The concerns were perhaps best expressed as follows: “Before the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games, the Olympic Movement is facing a crisis over Russia’s failure to respect the Olympic Charter in Sochi,” said Minky Worden, director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “Just as the IOC assesses ice rinks and ski jumps, the new Olympics leader needs to press Russia to repeal a discriminatory law and address human rights violations before the Sochi Games.” Hopefully others will follow suit, but I have serious misgivings. Vladimir Putin discriminates and persecutes his OWN people with draconian laws iniquitously slammed in place over Russia’s 143 million people. President Obama has spoke forcefully of Russia’s responsibility to protect the human rights of ALL people, however the Russian rhetoric has intensified if anything and other world leaders have yet to provide the needed traction. Unfortunately, it is not feasible to move the Olympics at this late date as much as we may want to. The most effective thing we can do is to put a glaring spotlight on this untenable situation. We must REALLY HURT them hard financially by boycotting ALL of the Olympic sponsors: Cola-cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Mac Donalds, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung, Visa. It is not really that difficult to do. Each of us does not buy that many brands involved. Everyone can simply look at the list and remember not to purchase from them. In other words, if one uses Visa, drinks Coke, etc. then change brands. Likewise with huge cooperations that have products under many names like Proctor and Gamble or General Electric. As almost everyone is using the Internet, all one has to do it to go to their websites and look for what we normally purchase and resolve to change, be it toothpaste an air conditioner, or whatever. The ideas of freedom and equality are at stake and MOST IMPORTANT here! Let us make certain that the billions of dollars of greed and profit does NOT prevail. It just takes a few minutes to be a good citizen and show that you REALLY CARE! ” Do not boycott the Olympics, boycott Putin and his anti-gay actions and the companies that would profit greatly from this hate . . .

  5. terry says

    As a history professor I’m having difficulty seeing how Putin’s Russia is different from Soviet Russia aside from the outside corporate interests. The 80’s saw South Africa outcast until it brought human rights into the modern era. It’s time for Putin’s Russia to face international isolation and yes Obama needs to grow a pair when dealing with this thug.

  6. mike/ says

    what is Putin’s real game? and what does he really want?

    agreed this is Cold War tactics. consequently, there was always something that the USSR wanted. when do we really find out?

    the IOC charter keeping politics out of the games is under attack not from the West but from Russia itself. they are the ones that have infused politics in it all….

  7. andrew says

    This is the nation in which that “champion of freedom” Edward Snowden is staying. LOL!!!

  8. Elsewhere1010 says

    Cold war tactics or autocratic tactics? We may not be looking far enough back into history…

  9. northalabama says

    how can the olympic games be hosted by a country threatening to throw it’s athletes, media, and visitors in jail? why does russia get away with it, and why is going forward with the games even being considered once russia changed it’s laws?

    the difference between russia and china: china agreed to concessions, and russia is making threats.

  10. Joseph2 says

    With this, the Olympics must be canceled or moved. As someone stated above, freedom of assembly is a human right, so Russian is now targeting all groups of people who might want to protest or even just meet to discuss something. How the IOC can consider going ahead with the games in Sochi at this point is unconscionable.

  11. SAYTHETRUTH says

    The Czar has spoken. All hail his divine wisdom. And I all, like in, well, everybody, lest you die.

  12. Kev C says

    Given the choice between possible terrorism or certain fascism, I’m going to have to choose terrorism.

  13. 666 says

    Why not send him to a baseball camp in Oklahoma? He can be shot in cold blood like that cute Australian boy? I see heart attack in your 40’s for you Queer Supre.

  14. gb says

    So if a athelete wins a contest and thanks God, is that considered religious propaganda and subject to arrest?

  15. Pathetic says

    Why are the gays in Russia so lazy? They need to get a backbone and all get together and start some sort of movement to end all of this bullshyt.

  16. David says

    PATHETIC – Because 90 percent of Russians are out to get them, that’s why. It’s very insidious and terrifying place to be LGBT. WHy don’t you “get a backbone” and go over there and start organizing. Jesus Christ, the judgment and meanness in these comments.

  17. David says

    The first host nation to ever state that it would jail Olympic athletes. That pretty much says it all.

  18. anon says

    Oh, 30 years ago I felt pretty lonely w/ a handful of friends trying to protest the fascist IOC and keep the games out of LA, but lo-and-behold how times have changed! The Olympics are too big, too fascist, and too centrally controlled to serve as the sole vehicle for multi-sport competition by nations. A big rethink is needed. We keep rewarding the wrong people! Do anyone here realize just how much money Putin himself will gain from hosting the Olympics?? It’s ridiculous.

  19. says

    PATHETIC – that’s like telling jews, gays and other persecuted minorities in pre-ww2 Germany to stand up for themselves.

    When the very act of standing up and declaring that you are a human being deserving of the same rights as everyone else is an offense worthy of arrest, its not so easy to stand up. They could try something organized via social media – but the skinhead groups have co-opted that and are using it as a tool to lure out LGBT victims.

  20. Koskalaka Maricón says

    Great! Sochi athletes (whether gay or gay allied) can get Putin and the IOC to boycott the 2014 winter games entirely IF he and the IOC keep their promises AND all athletes publicly and prominently break these barbaric and stupid laws and rules, and these athletes, acting in solidarity, are penalized and prevented from participating in the competitions. A weird, fanatical fantasy,… true… but fascinating, if only to me.

  21. Bill says

    @mike: My guess is that Putin is more of a sociopath than a homophobe. He cares about himself and doesn’t care who gets thrown under the proverbial bus.

    Note that someone else (some crazy woman who looks like a Stalin-era female bricklayer) introduced the legislation. Putin signed it, but given the level of homophobia in Russia, he may have just done that out of expediency. He probably thought, “If I don’t sign it, that will create a distraction that will make it harder for me to get the things I want passed.”

    He said they were banning “propaganda.” The IOC should IMHO demand that Putin explain exactly what “propaganda” means. Does it mean getting up on a soap box and shouting, “Workers Arise”? Or
    is it “propaganda” for a gay couple to hold hands?
    What happens if a gay athlete wins a gold metal and is so excited that he runs over to his boyfriend, who is there watching, and gives him a hug or a kiss?

    Those are simple questions with “yes or no” answers. Visitors need such examples to know how to stay out of trouble: they are going to be there to watch or be in the Olympics, not to get started on a degree in Russian law.

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