Putin bans rallies during Sochi 2014 Winter Games

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a new decree prohibiting all "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets" that are not directly related to the Olympics during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the official government paper reported on Friday

All such activity is banned from Jan. 7 through March 21, according to the presidential order published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.  

The move came as the Kremlin remains under fire for new anti-gay legislation in Russia that has led to calls to boycott the Games, to open in Sochi Feb. 7.

More from GlobalPost: Stephen Fry to IOC: Putin treats gays just like Hitler treated Jews (VIDEO)

The Black Sea resort city will also host the Paralympics from March 7 to 16.

Putin's return to the presidency in May brought with it a fresh crackdown on civil society in Russia, alarming activists and outraging many in the international community.

California Senator Barbara Boxer sent Putin a strongly-worded letter asking him to repeal the anti-gay legislation, Politico reported on Friday

After accusing the Russian authorities of violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (of which Moscow is a signatory), Boxer reportedly added she is “deeply concerned” about how athletes with alternative lifestyles will be treated in the Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak promised the International Olympic Committee by letter on Thursday that the nation will respect the Olympic Charter's sweeping directive against discrimination.

However, that will have no bearing on the enforcement of the new anti-gay laws in Russia, Kozak said, according to the Associated Press