Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned all meetings, protests and demonstrations during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, according to ABC News.
ABC’s Kirit Radia tweeted this morning from Moscow that a new decree issued by Putin, and published in Moscow today, seems to restrict all free speech rights in Sochi, Russia during the Winter Olympic games next February.
Such a decree would seem to directly contradict yesterday’s assurances from the International Olympic Committee that the Sochi Games are safe for athletes, guests and media.
According to the decree, which purports to be about security surrounding “anti-terrorism protection,” all “meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets” are banned in Sochi, from a period starting one month before the Olympics, and extending into March of 2014.
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.
This isn’t the first time that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) got egg on its face by claiming, falsely, that the Russians would not restrict human rights during the Sochi Games. But it is perhaps the most embarrassing for the IOC, as only 24 hours ago, Olympic President Count Rogge, claimed the situation was settled.
Russia’s new threats, which appear to tie gay human rights – and any freedom of speech during the Winter Olympics – to “terrorism” (is it just a coincidence that a “terror” document banning free speech at Sochi comes out now?) is sure to further depress turnout at what was already considered one of the most unsafe Olympic games in recent memory.
And there’s an even greater headache now for the International Olympic Committee.
Any violation of Russia’s draconian anti-gay “propaganda” law during the Sochi Olympics is now a violation of a Russian anti-terrorism decree.
That would seem to raise the crime of being openly gay to an entirely new and dangerous level: An act of terrorism.
And what exactly is the price one pays for violating anti-terror decrees in Russia? Our Olympians may soon find out.