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© RIA Novosti. Alexey Kudenko

Putin quashes rumors on identity of Sochi cauldron lighter

by R-Sport at 04/02/2014 16:38

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday rubbished reports on the alleged identity of the athlete who will light the Olympic cauldron at the Sochi Games opening ceremony.

Well-connected Russian socialite Ksenia Sobchak, once monikered Russia's Paris Hilton, had tipped Olympic gold medal-winning rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva for a role in the lighting of the flame.

Asked whether he had heard the rumor, Putin said: "I'm aware of it. (Press secretary Dmitry) Peskov told me, but these are just more spoof stories."

Kabaeva, now a member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party, was once romantically linked by tabloids with Putin, who vehemently denied the alleged affair.

Meanwhile, Putin insisted he played no part in choosing the person to light the flame.

"We have lots of athletes who are outstanding, significant and world famous," he said.

Details of Friday's opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium are being kept strictly under wraps, in keeping with past events such as London and Beijing.

One Russian celebrity who has admitted Olympic involvement is piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev, who said in November he has postponed concerts to take on a vaguely defined Olympic role. He is to play to guests in the stadium before the ceremony starts, according to Sobchak.

“At the Olympics I’ll be actively participating in various guises,” said Matsuev, who has appeared at the world’s top concert venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Festival Hall.

“I won’t reveal any secrets, but I’ll be taking part both creatively and as a fan. Because of that I’ve specially moved all my concerts. From the opening to the closing, I’ll be at the Olympics.”



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