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Putin arrives in Sochi ahead of Olympics
February 4, 2014, 11:13 pm

Vladimir Putin previously met with volunteers at the XXII Winter Olympics and XI Winter Paralympics in Sochi [PPIO]

Vladimir Putin previously met with volunteers at the XXII Winter Olympics and XI Winter Paralympics in Sochi [PPIO]

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, venue of the 22nd Winter Olympics Games, as international athletes from 88 participating countries continue to make final preparations two days ahead of the opening ceremonies.

According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Putin lauded the efforts by Russian officials and volunteers, “not just in terms of the external image of the city of making it more beautiful, more comfortable, but also in terms of the assistance, the social and economic, cultural and ecological aspects.”

Putin will on Wednesday and Thursday begin greeting world leaders including Norwegian King Harald V and Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, among others.

US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, French Prime Minister Francois Hollande, and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel have said they will not attend opening ceremonies on February 7.

Meanwhile, amid heightened security concerns and measures, two US Navy vessels have arrived in the Black Sea for “routine exercises”, but Washington officials have signaled that the warships could be used to extract US citizens in case of a terrorist attack which threatened their lives.

Russia has poured over $2 billion dollars to secure the Olympic venues and the city of venue, and has carried out raids and arrests of suspected militants in the Caucasus state of Dagestan.

In December, two suicide bomb attacks which targeted the train station and a trolleybus in the southern city of Volgograd, 500km north of Sochi killed 34 people and injured 60.

The attackers were suicide bombers dispatched from an extremist group called Vilayat Daghestan, which says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Dagestan.

US authorities on Friday announced that they have been working with their Russian counterparts to coordinate security for American athletes participating in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics.

According to FBI Director James Comey, his office has dispatched at least 20 agents to the city of Sochi.

Source: Agencies