Updated: Saturday, 11 January 2014 05:07 | By Agence France-Presse

Russia allocates park for protesters at Sochi Games

Russia said on Friday that protests will be allowed at the Sochi Winter Games next month -- but only in a park located away from the main Olympic venues.

Russia allocates park for protesters at Sochi Games

Police officers detain a gay rights activist during an unauthorized protest against Russian laws banning the promotion or display of homosexuality outside the headquarters of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee in central Moscow on September 25, 2013

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said protesters at the Black Sea resort of Sochi will be able to gather in a park in the seaside suburb of Khosta, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

"People can freely express their opinion (there), while not breaching the rights of other citizens or the Olympic Charter," Kozak was quoted as saying in Sochi.

"At the sports stadiums, at the sports venues, in accordance with the Olympic Charter, expressions of political opinions are banned," Kozak added.

The suburb of Khosta is located around 18 kilometres (11 miles) from the Olympic Cluster, containing the Olympic Stadium and other venues, and around 20 kilometres from central Sochi.

Russia's hosting of the Winter Games has prompted a storm of international concern over its rights situation, particularly a ban on promoting homosexuality to minors.

President Vladimir Putin last year issued a decree on security banning all public protests unrelated to the Games from January to March this year.

But after discussions with the International Olympic Committee, this month Putin issued an amended decree to allow protests at venues sanctioned by Sochi city authorities, police and security forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov specified that protests would be allowed in only one location of the sprawling Black Sea resort city.

Russia this week launched an unprecedented security clampdown that includes restrictions on motorists entering a "forbidden zone" around Sochi as well as patrols by army troops and monitoring by drones.

Russia is on high alert after two suicide bombings last month in the southern city of Volgograd killed 34 people.

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