Russian President Vladimir Putin banned demonstrations during the Winter Olympics. (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned all public assemblies in Sochi for two and a half months around next February's Winter Olympics, the Associated Press reports.
The ban was announced Friday in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official government newspaper, the AP reports. It includes all "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets" that aren't part of the Olympics or Paralympics.
The ban runs from Jan. 7 to March 21; the Olympics last from Feb. 7 to 23 and the Paralympics run from March 7 to 16.
The ban may be aimed at expected protests against Russia's law against so-called gay propaganda. The ban has been criticized by many Western nations. Some activists have called for the United States to skip the Games, but most have focused on using the Olympic stage to protest the anti-gay law.
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Russia said in a letter
to the International Olympic Committee that it would respect the IOC's non-discrimination charter.