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Putin Opens Winter Paralympics in Sochi

Published: March 8, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Fireworks at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Sochi.
    Photo: Maxim Bogodvid / © RIA Novosti

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the 11th Paralympic Winter Games open Friday at a grandiose opening ceremony in Sochi.

The Games, the first to be held in Russia, will feature 547 athletes from 45 countries across nine days of competition on the Black Sea coast and in the Caucasus Mountains.

Related: Medvedev Urges Sochi Organizers 'Not to Relax' Ahead of Paralympics

“I declare open the Winter Paralympic Games 2014, Sochi,” Putin said.

In a statement issued by organizers, Putin added: “Sochi 2014 will gather a record number of athletes representing the Paralympic movement.”

“And we will do everything we can to make every one of them feel at home in Russia, among close friends, so that they can show their skills, athletic character and conquer new heights.”

Related: Sochi Paralympics Herald Sea Change for Russia’s Disabled – IPC

In a lavish ceremony themed around the concepts of unity and inclusiveness, disabled performers played prominent roles as singers and dancers.

Oscar-winning animator Alexander Petrov provided regular hand-drawn interludes featuring the firebird, a magical creature from Russian fairytale, while another Oscar laureate, Mexico’s Eugenio Caballero, oversaw set design.

During the parade of athletes from the competing nations, only a single flag-bearer represented the Ukrainian team, which said earlier in the day that it would not stage a boycott over unrest in its home country.

“Together you are the catalysts for change. You have the ability to change perceptions and alter attitudes like no other,” International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven told athletes.

“You will leave as role models, heroes, pioneers and, most of all, proud Paralympians.”

The ceremony ended with a vast model icebreaker cruising through the Fisht Olympic Stadium, symbolising the breaking down of barriers at the Paralympics.

The Paralympic cauldron in the park outside the stadium was lit by two Russian Paralympic icons, two-time gold medal-winning swimmer Olesya Vladykina and Sergei Shilov, a six-time gold medalist in cross-country skiing.

The Paralympics run through March 16 and feature 72 medal events in five sports, the highest number for any Winter Paralympics to date.

To date, 283,000 tickets have been sold for the Sochi Paralympics, organizers said earlier in the day. That is about 50,000 more than the Winter Games record set by Vancouver in 2010.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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