An outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that amendments to a Presidential decree will mean that residents of Sochi will not be able to hold protests during the Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists say they have been told they cannot demonstrate during the Winter Games, because of laws against “homosexual propaganda”.
On Saturday, Putin made changes to an earlier decree banning all demonstrations and protests, saying that demonstrations could take place but only if protesters first obtained permission from the local authorities and security forces.
NEMTSOV: “PUTIN HASN’T PERMITTED ANY PROTESTS”
Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who was born in Sochi and who jointly leads the Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party, said the apparent lifting of the ban on protests was a sham.
“Putin has not allowed any demonstrations in Sochi. Read the text of the decree. To carry out a protest, [people] have to get permission,” Nemtsov tweeted.
Путин никаких акций в Сочи не разрешал. Прочтите по ссылке текст Указа. Чтобы провести акцию, ее надо согласовать… http://t.co/2YaOMTmuCY
— Boris Nemtsov (@BorisNemtsov) January 4, 2014
Nemtsov later told the Dozhd’ (“Rain”) TV channel that he could not rule out that international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups might get permits to demonstrate, as a “show of tolerance”. However, he added that the FSB would never give permits to “simple Sochi residents” to allow them to protest about how the Olympics have affected their town.
“If foreigners and LGBT activists ask (Sochi Mayor) Pakhomov, maybe they’ll be allowed to hold a rally. But it is clear there won’t be serious protests. Even though there are major problems in Sochi — not with visitors, but with my fellow countrymen. I was born in Sochi. I know that, for example, in 2012, my hometown and its individual regions were disconnected from electricity supply a thousand times.”
RUSSIAN LGBT ACTIVISTS: WE’VE BEEN TOLD WE CAN’T PROTEST DURING GAMES
Russian LGBT activists say that they have been refused permission to hold a demonstration in Sochi during the Games.
LGBT activist Nikokai Alekseev told Dozhd’ that his group was informed the planned protest contravened legislation barring “homosexual propaganda”.
Alekseev said that, following the announcement of amendments to the Presidential decree on demonstrations, his group would try again to apply for a permit.
“We filed the appropriate applications at the end of September last year and received a refusal from the Sochi city administration with reference to the Federal Law prohibiting “gay propaganda”. This was all before the talk about how allegedly it’s been permitted to hold events and so on. Now we will make a new application, and we will get back the same refusal because the objectives of our public events contradict Federal law banning gay propaganda.”