BREAKING: Putin “terror” decree bans meetings, protests at Sochi Olympics

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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61 Responses to “BREAKING: Putin “terror” decree bans meetings, protests at Sochi Olympics”

  1. Miriam Ben-Shalom says:

    My gawd–if we have that sort of power, are the same as terrorists, and are assigned that power by the fools in the Russian government, maybe the LGBT community ought to seize that power and–USE IT! I do not say we need be violent, but wow! What we do with all this freely given power? Could we picket at the boarders of Russia? Refuse to buy sponsor products and be vocal of open about this? Can we sit in front of every Russian Consulate and embassy 24/7 to shame them? How about refusing them rights, like double parking and towing their cars? etc? (Fair disclosure: I do not remember where, but I read that the Russian have more parking ticket than other embassies.) Let us make life here as hard for them as they make it for LGBT people who live in Russia!

  2. ComradeRutherford says:

    The IOC heartily endorses oppression of gays. That is why they chose China: to endorse slavery and suppress freedom.

  3. Ninong says:

    The authorities will determine if your little party or gathering is the sort they approve of or not. As long as you say only good things about Little Vlad and bad things about the Gay you should be okay. Just don’t do it the other way around or your Olympic ass will be shipped off to some gulag in Siberia.

  4. Nathanael says:

    The oil companies are in a different position. BP’s reputation was garbage *before* the oil spill.

    The IOC has a lot more to lose.

  5. Nathanael says:

    Putin has just made it so dangerous to go to Sochi that the athletes should not go. This decree is not just targeted at gay people, it’s targeted at EVERYONE.
    Lives come before careers. You can kiss your career goodbye if you’re in a Russian prison for an “unauthorized meeting” (perhaps because you decided to chat with some other atheletes on the street).

  6. Nathanael says:

    This fascistic decree means that if a few athletes get together for an informal party after an event, or stop to chat with news reporters, the government will ARREST THEM. Or at least it will arrest them if the cops feel like doing so.

    NOBODY is safe under this decree, not even the Olympic judges. People at the Olympics never spend 100% of their time doing official activities.

  7. Nathanael says:

    OK. It’s now clear from the suppression of free speech that it is not safe for ANYONE to go to the Sochi “Olympics” — it’s as dangerous and fascistic an environment as the G8 and NATO meetings.

    What can be done to (a) demand that the IOC revoke their endorsement of this event, and (b) arrange a worldwide boycott?

  8. Ninong says:

    Get out of your mother’s basement and find a real job.

  9. xihetafolex says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

    There is no Olympics in Russia. May Zeus strike them harshly for making a travesty of an ancient event.

  10. LarryMcD says:

    My anger today is directed at CoSport:
    “CoSport, the official American ticket vendor for this year’s Olympics, offers a wide range of travel packages. Many of the packages include “Pre-selected” tickets, meaning you won’t be able to choose which events you attend, although there are also several “Flex” packages available in which you can choose your own events, depending on availability.

    These people are one the funnels feeding loads of American dollars directly into the coffers of the Russian oligarchs who are determined to crush anyone they designate as a sexual outlaw. If you want to start shaming anybody, START HERE:

  11. DonewithDems says:

    Here is the USOC’s email. Send them a note and tell them what you think of their passive support of Russia’s bigotry: [email protected]

  12. Ninong says:

    Apparently some of them in Russia already did and they took this issue to a Russian court where the ruling was in favor of not having a Gay Pride House because the LGBT movement is “extremist.” экстремистской

    Putin’s new anti-gay propaganda law prohibits any public approval of anything having to do with “non-traditional” relations that might be viewed by the children (meaning anyone under the age of 18 even though the age of consent in Russia is 16).

  13. Strepsi says:

    Which is why one thing the athletes should insist upon, is an OFFICIAL OLYMPIC PRIDE HOUSE.

    Vancouver invented Pride House in its Athletes’ Village, it was in London, the IOC should insist on one.

  14. Ninong says:

    Gay athletes are invited to try out for the Olympic sport of javelin catching.

  15. BeccaM says:

    The Russian government continues its anti-gay pogrom because they believe nobody but us rabble will say or do anything about it. The IOC and the rest? The Russians assume, probably rightly so, the athletics groups will continue to roll over and play good doggie to whatever the Bear demands.

  16. BeccaM says:

    Vague, just like ‘pro gay propaganda’.

    “I don’t know what the fuss is all about. It’s a stupid law anyway. Gay people aren’t a danger to children.”

    “Comrade, you will come with us.”

  17. BeccaM says:

    Gladiator style!

  18. Ninong says:


  19. DrDignity says:

    The original Olympic games were played naked. I think that henceforth, all Olympians must play naked, summer or winter. There’s nothing gay about that!

  20. FLL says:

    Putin is ratcheting up the war significantly here. All the more reason to raise holy hell with the IOC in advance of their election of a new IOC president next month. The next IOC president could change course or continue the same disastrous trajectory. Next month’s IOC election is the target. Pressure has worked before.

  21. JayRandal says:

    Entire world athletes and everybody else should boycott Olympics in Russia. Russians can just award all the gold medals to their athletes without holding any competition events. US television networks can and should pull plug on any coverage of Olympic Games in Russia. As Americans have nothing to do
    with sponsors of Olympics. Boycott products such as Coca-Cola. Bring Russians to their knees as homophobes.

  22. Ninong says:

    This Russian guy is accusing Little Vlad of exceeding his presidential powers with this decree, which he considers unconstitutional. He’s asking who wants to join him in bringing the issue before the Russian Supreme Court.

    Прочитал Указ.
    Если оценивать его юридически, то он противоречит ст. 55-56, ст. 91 Конституции РФ.
    Причина очень проста: Указ Президента РФ обязан соответствовать действующему законодательству уровня Конституции, Федеральных конституционных законов, а также Федеральных законов. Ограничение прав граждан возможно только на основании Федерального закона. Указ, принятый Президентом РФ фактически вводит ограничения прав граждан, однако таких полномочий Президенту РФ никто не давал.
    Вариант разрешения данной проблемы – направления очередного заявления в Верховный Суд РФ. Желающие есть?

    English translation of that comment according to Google Translate:

    Read Ordinance.
    If we evaluate it legally, it is contrary to Art. 55-56, p. 91 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
    The reason is simple: the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation is obliged to comply with the current legislation of the level of the Constitution, federal constitutional laws and federal laws. The restriction of citizens’ rights is possible only on the basis of federal law. The decree passed by the President of the Russian Federation actually introduces restrictions on the rights of citizens, but such powers to the President of the Russian Federation no one gave.

  23. Ninong says:

    You can’t translate just paragraph 7. You have to read the entire presidential decree No. 686 of 19 August 2013. It clearly itemizes the restrictions that will be put in place during that 2-1/2 month period for the entire municipality of Sochi.

    I could post the entire thing in Russian but it’s easier to just link to it. Then you can use Google Translate to figure it out for yourself. Don’t forget to read more than just paragraph 7.

    Or how about I simply copy what this one young Russian guy had to say about it:

    Накануне, 19 августа 2013 года Владимир Путин подписал указ за номером «686» «Об особенностях применения усиленных мер безопасности в период проведения XXII Олимпийских зимних игр и XI Паралимпийских зимних игр 2014 года в г. Сочи», который с 1 декабря 2013 года превратит город-курорт Сочи в олимпийский концентрационный лагерь.

    Данным указом в городе Сочи устанавливается широкий перечень «контрольных зон», куда физические лица могут попасть только с санкции властей, где также будет осуществляться усиленный полицейский досмотр транспортных средств.

    На территорию «запретных зон» доступ и вовсе запрещен «без служебной и производственной необходимости». Более того, с 7 января по 21 марта 2014 года иногороднему частному транспорту будет запрещен въезд на территорию и передвижение по территории муниципального образования город-курорт Сочи.

    The day before, August 19, 2013, Vladimir Putin signed a decree for the number “686”, “On the use of high security during the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi”, which was December 1, 2013 will transform the city the Sochi Olympic in a concentration camp.

    According to the decree of the city of Sochi established a list of “control zones” where individuals can get only with the approval of the authorities, which also will be reinforced police search of vehicles.

    On the territory of the “exclusion zones” Access is denied at all “without the overhead and operational needs.” Furthermore, from January 7 to March 21, 2014 nonresident private transport will be denied entry to the territory and movement within the municipality of Sochi.

  24. Ninong says:

    There are going to be no gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets that are not part of the Olympics during that 2-1/2 month period allowed anywhere in the municipality of Sochi. Also, no private transport of any kind will be allowed in that area during that period other than vehicles that are already locally registered to locals.

    Everyone coming into the area during that period will be fully inspected, including all of their belongings, electronic equipment, etc. They will be officially registered. There aren’t going to be any outside groups coming down from Moscow or St. Petersburg with the intent to march around waving rainbow flags because they will be arrested for violating the presidential anti-terrorist decree of August 19, 2013.

    If your meeting or march or whatever is part of the Olympics, you’re good to go. If not, your ass is going to the gulag.

  25. nicho says:

    It’s another sad fact that many of the Olympic events — the judged ones — are fixed. Obviously, they can’t fix timed events, but things like figure skating, etc. are totally rigged. The judges are part of an inner-elite that decides “whose turn it is.” Some kid can come out and skate like a whirlwind and get marked below someone who the judges feel should really win. I have a friend who was an Olympic skater and later a skating coach. She says the politics at the highest level of the sport is unbelievable.

  26. perljammer says:

    Here’s what ABC News said:

    ‘The Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official government newspaper, published the presidential decree Friday, listing an array of measures tightening security in the Olympic host city, including the ban on public assemblies. All “gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets” that are not part of the Olympics or the Paralympics will be prohibited in Sochi from Jan. 7 to March 21, the decree said.’ (

    Here’s a Google translation of the portion of the decree itself that refers to “meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets”:

    ‘7. To establish that the territory and waters within which introduces increased security measures, meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets that are not associated with the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and planned for the period from January 7 to March 21, 2014 are carried out in that period of time.’ (

    Maybe it’s the translation, but I don’t see the words “banned” or “prohibited” (or any synonyms) in there anywhere. Maybe John has a better translation?

  27. Ninong says:

    Here’s the original Russian text of the applicable restriction:

    Установить, что на территории и в акватории, в пределах которых вводятся усиленные меры безопасности, собрания, митинги, демонстрации, шествия и пикетирования, не связанные с проведением Олимпийских игр и Паралимпийских игр, и запланированные на период с 7 января по 21 марта 2014 г., проводятся в иной период времени.

    And here’s how Google Translate sees it:

    To establish that the territory and waters within which introduces increased security measures, meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets that are not associated with the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and planned for the period from January 7 to March 21, 2014 are carried out in that period of time.

  28. nicho says:

    Look at the pool of candidates. They are all cut from the same bolt of fascist ultra-elite cloth.

  29. nicho says:

    Easy solution: Ban all travel by US citizens to Russia — as we do to Cuba — until Russia cleans up it’s act.

  30. RWG says:

    Looks to me that two people having a conversation on the street, and one other listening to them, will constitute an act of terror in Sochi, if anything other than the Official Olympic Program is discussed. What else should we expect from a government which just this morning claimed that a chemical attack on civilians, including hundreds of children, was not the act of a brutal dictator fighting to hold onto power, but rather is a ‘provocation’ by rebels who are seeking aid from Europe? Russia is going from bad to worse by the day. If the games are allowed to go forward in Russia, they will be the most tragic since Munich in 1972. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if both athletes and spectators are jailed, beaten or even killed. Way to go IOC!

  31. Merv99 says:

    How unusual is this? I ask because I don’t recall coverage of protests at other Olympics.

  32. nicho says:

    Huff Post is pretty much a supermarket tabloid and has been for years. I can’t remember the last time I went there.

  33. Ninong says:

    That’s not the way most sources are translating it. The European media is reporting that all gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets that are not part of the Olympics or Paraolympics will be prohibited in Sochi from Jan. 7 to March 21.

    That seems pretty clear to me. If your demonstration or rally, or whatever else you want to call it, is not an official part of the Olympics, it is banned in the entire city of Sochi. The entire city is off limits starting a month before the Olympics and ending a month after the Olympics. He’s not just banning protests that are too close to the Olympic venues, he’s banning them in the entire city. And not just during the Olympics, for 2-1/2 months!

    It’s all to protect the Olympic athletes from the terrorists. Next thing you know he will start saying that any people that gather in Russia carrying pro-gay rights signs and waving rainbow flags are terrorists.

  34. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is aimed directly at our brothers and sisters at who said: “It’s official! The organising committee of Moscow Gay Pride and founders of the banned Pride House Sochi decided today against the boycott of Winter Olympics in Sochi and instead to organise Winter Sochi Pride on the day of the opening of Olympic Games on 7 February 2014. Join us! It will be much more effective to draw attention to official homophobia in Russia all around the world and expose the hypocrisy of the International Olympic Committee which went into discriminatory agreements with Russian regime and of the European Court of Human Rights which still has not considered our complaint concerning the unlawful denial to register Pride House Sochi! Vive Sochi Pride 2014!” – Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseyev, as quoted on (if you use Chrome it’s automatically translated)

    Our goal has to be to provide with all the aid and support we can while continuing our domestic struggles to get rid of section two of Bill Clinton’s DOMA and Gush’s state DOMAS, pass ENDA and . free Chelsea Manning. Begin by boycotting and divesting from NBC/Comcast/MSNBC, Coke, McDonalds etc.

  35. lynchie says:

    One other point. I don’t routinely watch Maddow and I wonder if she has said a word about this issue. I guess Rachel values her $7 million a year more that real ideals and values. By the way Huff Post hasn’t said squat but they are busy with the latest Kardashian bullshit.

  36. Fima says:

    Yeah that was the only difference I was pointing out. I mean the way it reads basically sounds like you could protest something that was related to the Olympics, just not anything else. So that’s why it sounds vague because “related to the Olympics” could be interpreted in different ways. For example, if you simply want to hold a rally protesting the Olympics taking place in Sochi (and there are a number of legitimate reasons to do so–corruption, environmental impact, safety concerns, etc.) it certainly sounds like that would be “related to the Olympics”. Of course since this is Russia it doesn’t really matter what the decree/law actually says, because the authorities will interpret and enforce it however they want. They already decide which meetings/rallies to sanction, so really this provision doesn’t change much in terms of that. It is rather worrisome, however, that they are now essentially codifying the restrictions on freedom of speech that already existed in practice.

  37. lynchie says:

    They continue to “create laws that restrict” because they don’t care. Not a single government has said boo to them. The U.S. IOC has supported them and as for the athletes it for them about prestige and fame. I know, I know they are pure and are doing it to represent their home countries but it is about sponsor ships, appearance money, appearing on Wheaties box, etc. and regardless what the IOC states that they are pure that is a total lie. The IOC are doing it for money and they don’t care about the issues with the gay community. If you could get them to be honest I am sure an overwhelming percentage would be totally against freedom and rights for the LGBT athletes or the gay community in general. That is being left for the athletes to protest and demonstrate their support shows how truly shallow any support for that group rests in the U.S. government. The best we can do is boycott the products and the viewing of the games. I have written to the companies who are sponsoring and received not one reply. I have written to O’Highness but he is too busy giving bullshit speeches about lowering University tuition but not actually doing anything (my suggestion is take the $6 Billion that the NCAA receives from tv rights and advertisers and turn that over to the Universities to lower tuition). If we wait for Barry I will be able to weave the hair on my legs into permanent nylons (a frightening thought).

  38. PeteWa says:

    a meeting is wonderfully vague, and can comprise of as few as two people.

  39. I appreciate the clarification, but yes, no one thinks they’re going to ban the Olympic judges from meeting to discuss who gets the gold ;-)

  40. Yes, we have a story on that that got bumped for this, it’s coming shortly :)

  41. jomicur says:

    “You want a shot at the next multi-million dollar endorsement deal? Then button your lip!” They’ve already made it clear that any athletes who speak up will be sent home, i.e. will finish out of the money. The momentt these jocks decided to pursue a career on Wheaties boxes, they made a deal with the corporate devil. Very few of them, if any, will voluntarily toss that money away.

  42. jomicur says:

    Unfortunately, most Americans will never hear about this. It’s a cinch NBC won’t mention it, not now and certainly not during their Olympics coverage. The IOC is a corporation like any other corporation, and they’re past masters at controlling the media and highly-placed politicians (and even the courts, if it comes to that) to protect their corporate image-and profits. Take a good look at the way BP handled the Gulf oil spill and you’ll have a fairly accurate picture of what’s coming from the IOC. The Olympics are about peace and love and brotherhood and like that, and woe betide the poor fool who says otherwise.

    If we don’t keep up the pressure on them by any means necessary, their corporate PR machine will carry the day.

  43. iamlegion says:

    You’re not wrong, but the IOC has to be able to keep all of that on the DL in order to keep pretending that the athletes are “amateurs”. To get the people that are actually going to be on-camera (and potentially arrested/kidnapped/beaten/murdered by Russian thugs) to play along & take those risks they’re gonna have to write some HYUUUGE checks.

  44. Bj Lincoln says:

    What about “Move the games to Canada” do these people not understand? Russia is begging to have the games moved. Why would they continue to create laws that restrict and turn away people if they really wanted the games to stay? I feel for the athletes who have worked hard and taken money to get to this point but they should never be forced to compete in a dangerous place. The IOC are idiots if they don’t do something NOW.

  45. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Full Boycott

  46. Monoceros Forth says:

    I can’t say this is entirely surprising or entirely new. The coming of the Olympics to a town always means its transformation into a police state; look at the extraordinary “security” measures taken in London last year.

  47. caphillprof says:

    Anybody, especially including athletes, who attend the Sochi olympics should be branded a traitor to the human race and actively shunned. Enough already.

  48. nicho says:

    OT: German government warns people that Wndows 8 is unsafe. It’s full of NSA back doors.

  49. MichaelS says:

    We need to organize and rally NOW to get a new and progressive president elected to the IOC:

  50. goulo says:

    The only difference I see is that you said “all meetings are banned” and Fima said “all meetings unrelated to the Olympics are banned”.

    Which seems kind of a nitpick (yes, of course Olympics-related meetings will happen, e.g. the Olympics themselves will happen), and doesn’t change the significance of the ban in terms of human rights.

  51. Indigo says:

    That is a sad fact about the Olympics today. Maybe it is time to fold that tent and put it away for another century or two.

  52. Indigo says:

    I’m talking lightning bolts, real ones, big nasty ones.

  53. nicho says:

    The trouble is that the “amateur” athletes have already taken so much money from the corporatocracy that they pretty much have to do what they’re told. If they don’t, they can kiss their career goodbye when the sponsorship contracts, endorsements, etc. dry up overnight.

  54. nicho says:

    The IOC and the corporatocracy did that decades ago.

  55. As a lawyer, I’m a bit confused as to how that’s any different than what I just wrote? All meetings, rallies etc are banned during the Olympics – aka, they must take place at a different date that is NOT during the Olympics. That’s the same thing :)

  56. Fima says:

    Technically it says all meetings, rallies, etc unrelated to the Olympic and Paralympic Games must take place at a different date. But that is somewhat vague and still restricts freedom of speech

  57. iamlegion says:

    The Russians can pay the IOC to say anything they want them to… but how will they pay off the athletes to put themselves in harm’s way just by going to Sochi?

  58. Xyxox says:

    I will not be viewing the Sochi Olympics and will actively boycott any company that sponsors the Sochi Olympics.

  59. Indigo says:

    There is no Olympics in Russia. May Zeus strike them harshly for making a travesty of an ancient event.

  60. Constant Comment says:

    The longer the IOC stalls, the worse mess they’ll be in.

  61. And there still is no olympic boycott, or plans to move it yet? Really?

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