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Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 19, 2013. / Vasily Maximov, AFP/Getty Images

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has rescinded a blanket ban on demonstrations in and around the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi.

An order published on the Kremlin's website Saturday says that meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, marches and picketing that is not connected with the games may be held in places or along routes approved by the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the country's police.

Putin last year ordered a ban on any demonstrations in Sochi not connected with the games from Jan. 7 to March 21. The move was widely criticized by human rights organizations.

Although the Saturday order lifts the blanket ban, Russian authorities generally are stingy about granting rally permission to opposition groups and critics.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: Putin backs off Sochi demonstrations ban

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