January 13 - Sweden's Sports Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has revealed she will not be attending the Sochi 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony next month for political reasons but has insisted she will not boycott the Games entirely.
Branding the Ceremony on February 7 as a "propaganda stunt" by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Liljeroth told state broadcaster SVT her decision to snub the grand opening of what will be the most expensive Games in Olympic history should be seen as a "political statement".
She said there are unanswered questions about the cost of the event, its environmental impact and the nation's human rights record, and added that she plans to meet representatives of pro-democracy groups during her visit to Sochi to support Sweden's athletes later on in the Games.
"There is a special situation in Russia where the powers that be seem to encourage oppression of homosexuals and pro-democracy activists," Liljeroth, whose nation is preparing to launch a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Stockholm, said.
"This is not a boycott, I believe dialogue is better."
Liljeroth is just the latest international figure to announce her absence from Sochi 2014, joining the likes of United States President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German President Joachim Gauck, French leader François Hollande and the heads of Canada, Belgium, Lithuania, Moldova and Georgia.
And while she said Putin will not lose any sleep over her decision not to attend the Opening Ceremony, she said the non-appearance of other political leaders "will not be unnoticed".
Russia's hosting of this year's Winter Olympics and Paralympics has been plagued by a catalogue of hurdles in recent months.
The introduction of the nation's anti-gay propaganda legislation last June sparked international outcry, with influential figures - including Obama - speaking out against the supposed discrimination, while the country has been the target of a series of terror attacks, including a double suicide bombing in Volgograd that left 34 people dead in December.
The nation last week launched the biggest security operation in Olympic history, which has seen more than 30,000 police and Interior Ministry troops deployed, along with the introduction of stiff measures to restrict vehicle access, and the sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition in the Sochi region.
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