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MAKHACHKALA, January 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Dagestani President Ramzan Abdulatipov and Khadzhimurad Magomedov, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games champion, lit the Olympic Flame at the Anji-Arena stadium in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala on Monday as the North Caucasus Republic was welcoming the Sochi Olympic Games torch relay race on its soil.
President Abdulatipov said that Russia was going to host the Olympic Games for the first time in 34 years.
“It means that the country is reviving. Thanks to the creative effort of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Olympic Games will be held in the Russian Caucasus! The Olympic Flame is a flame of hope, prosperity, peace and friendship. This is a flame of our unity!” Abdulatipov went on to say.
He added that the Olympic flame had put a light to the hearts of all Dagestanis.
“The fact that we got the right to host the Olympic Games means that we are a country of strong people, a country of winners! Long Live the Olympic Flame! Long Live Olympic Russia! Long Live Olympic Dagestan!” the Dagestan president said.
Makhachkala has become the first city on the Olympic torch’s route to hold the torch-welcoming ceremony at the stadium.
Sixty-seven torch-bearers took part in the five-kilometer-long Dagestani lap of the relay race. They included prominent athletes, Olympic champions, world and European champions. Zagalav Abdulbekov, the first Olympic champion of Dagestan and North Caucasus, who won the 1972 Olympic freestyle wrestling title in Munich, was the first to welcome the Olympic torch on the Dagestani soil.