By Tom Degun at Trafalgar Square in London 

Dmitry_Chernyshenko_07-09-11September 8 - Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of Sochi 2014, has stressed that the first Winter Olympics and Paralympics to held in Russia will be a fully integrated event primarily aimed at changing attitudes towards disability in the country.

Russia currently has over 13 million citizens with a disability living in the country and Chernyshenko said his priority is using the Sochi 2014 Paralympics to help them.

"For Sochi 2014, the Olympic and the Paralympics are one fully integrated event and we do not see them as two separate events at all," he told insideworldparasport.

"There is a major objective for the Games as we want not only to draw attention to the Paralympic theme but also attempt to shift society's perceptions of people living with disabilities in our country as a whole.

"Our main task is to change the attitude of Russian society to the group of more than 13 million Russians who currently live with disabilities."

Sochi was part of International Paralympic Day here today as Sochi 2014 ambassador Olesya Vladykina was a member of the Russian delegation.

Vladykina was paralysed in a car accident but has since become one of the fastest Paralympic swimmers on the planet as she secured gold at Beijing in the 100 metres breaststroke, and looks likely to do so again at London 2012.

"We have top athletes in Russia and they will help us in our plan to change attitudes," added Chernyshenko.

"But Sochi will very much be a barrier-free environment in many more tangible and intangible ways.

"The construction of the sports venues in Sochi is on target to be completed on time and is being conducted according to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) requirements for guaranteeing equal opportunities for people with a disability.

"All the infrastructure that is being built for the Games including public transport links, new roads, sports and urban infrastructure is being constructed in such a way as to guarantee that required barrier-free environment.

"It will become a model for the whole of Russia."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]