News / Europe

Russia Receives Sochi Olympics Flame

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak attends a handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games at the Panathenean stadium in Athens October 5, 2013.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak attends a handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games at the Panathenean stadium in Athens October 5, 2013.
Reuters
The flame that will burn at next year's Sochi Winter Olympics was handed over to Russia on Saturday in the marble stadium that hosted the first modern Games in 1896.
 
After a six-day trek across 33 towns in Greece's mainly mountainous northern regions, the flame that was lit last Sunday by the sun's rays at the birthplace of the ancient Games in Olympia was presented to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.
 
From its overnight perch on the ancient Acropolis, the flame traveled through Athens' streets before being carried into the stadium, built in 330 BC, by Greek figure skating champion Panagiotis Markouzios.
 
As he lit the golden cauldron encircled by priestesses in long, cream-colored, pleated robes, the crowd erupted in cheers of “Russia! Russia!”
 
“We are especially emotional,” Hellenic Olympic Committee head Spyros Capralos said. “The flame, for us Greeks, is a piece of our country, a part of our history and a tight bond to our ancestors.”
 
The flame will be flown in special safety lanterns from Athens to Moscow on Sunday and it will then begin the longest torch relay in the history of the Winter Games from the Red Square.
 
It will travel more than 65,000 km, looping around Russia's 83 regions on foot, in sleighs, hot air balloons and even on a trip to space, as Russia prepares to showcase its modern post-Soviet face.
 
More than 90 percent of the Russian population will have been within one hour of the flame before the lighting of the Olympic cauldron takes place at the stadium at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 7.

“Great honor”

“For me it is a great honor, responsibility and pleasure to be here tonight, on the land that gave birth to the European civilization and presented the world with the Olympic Games,” Kozak said.
 
“On this momentous day I am telling you with certainty that our country ... will succeed in fulfilling its commitment to the Olympic movement,” Kozak added.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to deliver a “brilliant” Games to show how far Russia has come since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
 
But Russia has come under mounting international criticism over a new anti-gay propaganda law, which critics believe is repressive, and preparations for the Games will not be plain sailing for the Russian hosts.
 
Earlier in the day, a group of Greek gay activists raised the rainbow flag outside Greece's Acropolis museum in Athens.
 
“Russia receives the Olympic flame, a globally recognized symbol of humanitarian ideals,” the Athens-based gay rights group Color Youth said in a statement.
 
“Yet the laws in Russia are far from the ideals of human rights when it comes to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, queer) people, who are tortured, abused and discriminated against. We choose not to be silent this day,” it said.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid