Sochi 2014: Amnesty Intl slams Putin's ban on public gatherings

Sochi 2014: Amnesty Intl slams Putin's ban on public gatherings
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Amnesty International has criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree banning public gatherings in and around next year’s Winter Olympic Games to be held in the Russian resort of Sochi.

The decree will prevent human and gay rights groups protesting against Russia’s anti-homosexual legislation, passed at the end of June, which bans “gay propaganda” that can be accessed by minors. The law has been criticised by western governments and prompted calls for a boycott of the Olympics.

Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International’s Moscow office, told euronews: “We see an obvious violation of citizens’ rights, especially the ones described in the well-known article 31 of the Russian constitution which guarantees citizens’ rights to peaceful demonstrations, marches and rallies, etc. Also, it violates another article of the constitution: the freedom of movements.”

Dzhambot Pachuliya, who lives in Sochi, said: “People look at it with disgust. All these gays, rallies, what’s it all about? Why do they need to rally? What do they need to talk about?”

Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said he planned to hold a gay pride march in Sochi on the opening day of the Winter Olympic Games and that it could not be prohibited by presidential decree.

Are the Olympics an emergency situation, like a war or a natural disaster?” Alexeyev was quoted as saying by the website “There has been no precedent in history in which peaceful demonstrations have been banned in a city where the Olympics were being held,” he said.

In the decree, Putin said its purpose was the “implementation of increased security measures” called for in a law adopted in 2007, when the Olympics were awarded to Sochi.

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