Putin Sees ‘Moral’ Moment for Russia in Winter Olympics

MOSCOW, January 18 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin has said that there is a moral dimension to Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics and denied that the event is tied up with his own personal ambitions.

“There is a sort of moral moment,” Putin said in an interview with a group of foreign and Russian journalists, according to a partial transcript released by the Kremlin on Saturday.

“After the collapse of the USSR and the difficult and bloody events in the Caucasus, the general state of society is one of dejection and pessimism. We need to cheer up. [We need to] understand and feel that we can put on such large-scale projects,” Putin said.

The Games, which are due to begin on February 7 in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, have faced criticism over an anti-gay law passed by Russia last year and have been blighted by security fears after a double suicide bombing in the southern Russian city of Volgograd last month.

Putin also denied that the Winter Olympics, on which Russia has spent more than $50 billion, were the result of his own personal ambition.

“Obviously, when I see what we are doing it is, of course, nice for me, but, I repeat, it’s not the satisfaction of some-sort of ambition,” Putin said. “It is in the direct and concentrated interest of the state and our people.”

The full version of the interview with Putin will be broadcast on January 19, the Kremlin said.

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