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Winter Games begin, Putin keen to prove doubters wrong

Published on Feb 7, 2014 4:55 AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers an address before the start of the games. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SOCHI (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday determined to prove his doubters wrong after militant attacks, a row over gay rights and ballooning costs overshadowed preparations.

Mr Putin has staked his reputation on hosting a safe and successful Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where a three-hour spectacle before 40,000 spectators at the new Fisht Stadium will signal the start of the full sporting programme.

Some 37,000 security personnel are on high alert over threats by Islamist militant groups based in the nearby north Caucasus region to attack the Games.

Separatist guerrillas seeking an independent Islamic state in Chechnya and neighbouring regions of southern Russia have vowed to disrupt the Olympics, which they say are taking place on land seized from Caucasus tribes in the 19th century.

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