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Putin opens Paralympics as protest staged over Crimea crisis

Published on Mar 8, 2014 5:12 AM

SOCHI (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Paralympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday and was immediately confronted by an emotional Ukrainian protest on a politically-charged night.

As athletes from 45 countries took part in the opening ceremony, only one Ukrainian competitor appeared in a symbolic, scaled-down presence of the country that has denounced Russia's intervention in Crimea.

Spectators gave huge cheers and some even stood to applaud 37-year-old skier and biathlete Mykhailo Tkachenko who came through the Fisht stadium in his wheelchair.

Without a trace of a smile, Mr Tkachenko proudly carried his country's national flag for his 31-strong team who did not enter the stadium with him.

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