MOSCOW, January 19, 12:51 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia had a clear understanding of security threat at the Olympic Games and knew how to combat it.
“We do everything with understanding, with a clear understanding of the operational situation developing around Sochi and in the region as a whole; we have a perfect understanding of what it is, what is that threat, how to stop it, how to combat it,” he said in an interview with Russian and foreign journalists. “I hope that our law enforcement agencies will deal with it with honour and dignity, just as it was during other major sports and political events.”
“The whole world considers them (extremists) criminals, criminals in the worst sense of this word, bloodthirsty people who not only disregard human rights and freedoms, but also set a person’s life at naught,” he said. “No matter what motives they have for committing such acts, there will never be excuses for them, and in the eyes of all sensible people in the world they will always remain criminals.
Putin said he was ready to meet members of the delegation to represent the United States in Sochi. Ed Hula, the editor and founder of the Web publication Around the Rings, said the U.S. delegation included homosexual athletes and asked Putin whether he was ready to meet famous tennis player Billie Jean King as the head of the US Delegation in Sochi.
“I certainly will be glad to see the representatives of any countries, including the United States, there can be no doubts as to that. If they would like to meet me and discuss anything, they are welcome, I see no problems here,” Putin told Russian and foreign reporters. “People have different sexual orientation. We would welcome all athletes and all guests at the Olympics.”
“President Obama asked me to help make arrangements for a large US delegation to come. His request was related to a limited membership of national teams, including both athletes and members of various administrative bodies,” he said. “The International Olympic Committee has its rules, but we did the best we could. We found solutions to that, bearing in mind that the US has traditionally had a larger delegation at the Olympic Games than other countries, they have a large team and many representatives. We complied with their request.
Putin said he did not consider a recent amnesty as an attempt “to put a smile” ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. “In compliance with our law, a decision on an amnesty is taken not by the president,” he said in an interview with Russian and foreign reporters. “This is an exclusive prerogative of the parliament. This is not me who has taken this decision, this is parliament. Thus, I even should not be “put a smile.”
Putin reiterated that this was the achievement of State Duma deputies.
Russian President believes that the Olympic Games provide a good chance to show a new Russia to the world. “I would like the participants, fans, journalists and all those who watch the Games on TV and follow them through the media to see a new Russia, see its face and its possibilities, and take a fresh and unbiased look at the country,” Putin said in an interview with Russian and foreign reporters. “I am sure that this will happen, it must bring about positive results and it will help Russia to build up relations with its partners around the world.”
“Such major events as world championships, European championships and Olympic Games encourage people, especially young people, to take up sports, promote mass sport participation, which certainly has a positive impact on the nation’s health and makes sport popular, interesting and trendy,” he said.
“I believe all of this to be of extreme importance, and it has nothing to do with my personal ambitions. It is the interests of the state and its people in their purest form. It certainly gives me great pleasure to see us do this work, but again, not because of any ambitions.”
Putin added that there was also “a certain psychological aspect” in hosting the Olympic Games.
“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, after the dark and, let us be honest, bloody events in the Caucasus, the public attitude in Russia became very negative and pessimistic. We have to pull ourselves together and realise that we can deliver large-scale projects on time and with high standards, and by projects I mean not only stronger defence potential, but also developments in the humanitarian sphere, including high achievement sport,” the president said. “I believe that all this is a step in the right direction, as it strengthens the nation’s morale, as well as its social and healthcare sectors, and creates preconditions for future development.