ST. PETERSBURG, October 27 (Itar-Tass) - The Olympic Flame relay will arrive in the Russian northern capital of St. Petersburg on Sunday. The St. Petersburg stage of the relay will start at 10:50 Moscow time (06:50 GMT) from the Square of Victory in the south of the city.
The first torch bearer in St. Petersburg will be Olympic shot put champion in 1952 Galina Zybina. No less than 100,000 people are expected to watch the Olympic Flame relay in the streets of the city.
A 2-day stage of the relay in St. Petersburg will be the second longest Russian stage of the relay stretching at 78 kilometres. As many as 515 torch bearers will carry the Olympic Flame in central St. Petersburg and in the historical neighbourhoods, each torch bearer will run about 150 metres on the route.
Famous athletes, Olympic champions of different years, figures of culture and arts, including Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, football forward Aleksander Kerzhakov, figure skater Yevgeny Plyushchenko and TV anchorwoman Tina Kandelaki will carry the Olympic torch.
In contrast to Governor of Leningrad Region Aleksander Drozdenko, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko refused to participate in the relay. “The governor will participate in a closing ceremony, but not in the relay, as we do not want to use the administrative resource. This is very honourable, but we entrusted this to our most respected city residents,” Vice-Governor Vasily Kichedzhi said on Saturday.
The first day of the St. Petersburg stage of the relay will end on Sunday evening on the Palace Square, where a ceremony to light the Olympic Flame will be held. The last torch bearer who will bring the Olympic Flame to the cauldron will be six-time Olympic ski race champion, Hero of Russia and honorary resident of the city Lyobov Yegorova.
The Olympic Flame began its tour of Russia from Moscow on October 7. The Olympic Flame will cross the whole country for 123 days, visiting all 83 constituent entities of the country, and will pass 65,000 kilometres by car, train, in Russian troika of horses and in reindeer team. As many as 14,000 torch bearers will carry the Olympic torch through 2,900 settlements. The Olympic Flame relay will end in the Olympic capital of Sochi on February 7, when the Winter Olympics will start.