Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin softens ban on protests at Sochi Olympics

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Russian president Vladimir Putin has backed off his ban on “gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets” during the Olympics in Sochi.

Those demonstrations not connected with the Olympics may now be held if approved by the Interior Ministry that runs Russia’s police and Sochi city officials, according to RIA Novosti.

They’ll have to pick a city square where rallies or protests could be held, according to the report citing a Kremlin spokesman.

Authorities are generally stingy about granting permission for demonstrations to opposition groups, according to The Associated Press.

In August, Putin signed a decree outlawing any such demonstrations in Sochi from Jan. 7 through March 21, a span that includes the Olympics and Paralympics.

The easing on the restriction comes days after two suicide bombings in Volgograd, a city of one million 400 miles northeast of Sochi, raised concern over Olympic security.

In June, Putin signed a law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors.

Video: Putin skis on Sochi slopes

Russian pairs skater slices leg in worlds practice, needs 10 stitches (video)

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Russian pairs skater Yevgenia Tarasova needed 10 stitches after her partner’s skate sliced her leg in practice Wednesday.

Hours later, Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated to third place in the short program at the world championships in Helsinki.

“We were thinking about withdrawing because after this incident we left the ice immediately, there was a long break off the ice, we didn’t know how I would feel in skates,” Tarasova said afterward. “But when I was asked, ‘Will you skate?’ I said, ‘I will!’ And I wasn’t thinking about the pain during our performance.”

Morozov called her “a hero.”

In Thursday’s free skate, Tarasova and Morozov will be largely tasked with keeping Russia from going three straight years without world championships pairs medalists, which would be the longest drought for Soviet and Russian pairs since their dominance began in the 1960s.

Tarasova and Morozov trail Chinese leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by 1.86 points and second-place Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany by .47.

Another Russian pair is in fifth place going into the free skate (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Full worlds short program results are here.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

World Cup champ lands first quad cork 1800 (video)

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Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli landed what’s being touted as the first ski quad cork 1800 in a video published recently.

Ragettli, 18, is one of the leading slopestyle skiers in the world. He won the World Cup season title in 2015-16 and placed second this year, in addition to fifth- and sixth-place finishes at the last two Winter X Games.

Previously, Ragettli became the first slopestyle skier to land back-to-back triples in a full competition at the 2016 Winter X Games, according to ESPN.com.

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