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Putin loosens protest ban for Sochi Olympics, but restrictions remain

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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin on Saturday eased a sweeping ban on public protests in Sochi, Russia, starting Tuesday and continuing through the Olympic Games next month and the Paralympic Games in March. However, any demonstrations will require approval in advance from the authorities.

The ban, which Putin ordered in August, had prompted criticism from human rights organizations and expressions of concern from the International Olympic Committee.

The new order, published on the Kremlin’s website, appeared to be an effort to burnish Russia’s reputation before the Olympics. It followed the release of some of the country’s most prominent prisoners, including the tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, two performers from the punk band Pussy Riot, and 30 activists from Greenpeace.

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