Vladimir Putin formally opens Sochi Winter Games

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the Winter Olympics open at a superlative-filled opening ceremony in Sochi.

Putin said Friday, "I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games open."

More than with most games, these Olympics are closely tied to the leader of the host nation. Putin personally pushed for the right to stage them in this Black Sea summer resort and the nearby Caucasus Mountains slopes.

He then spent $51 billion to transform Sochi into a winter sports paradise, in a project fraught with corruption, environmental abuses and fears of terrorism from nearby Chechnya and Dagestan.

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