By David Gold

Vladimir Putin_meets_Russian_athletesDecember 24 - Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has praised and congratulated the country's Paralympic Committee as it celebrates its 15th anniversary and continues preparation for the 2014 Winter Games, which Sochi is hosting. 

"This is a significant date – a good excuse to turn to history and its traditions," said Putin.

"[We] remember the names of significant Russian athletes who consistently achieved impressive results in competition at the highest level.

"Largely due to their professional skill and courage, our national team is considered one of the strongest on the planet.

"I would like to note that great, relevant work is carried out by the Paralympic Committee of Russia for the implementation of large-scale social and charitable programs, promoting the values ​​of a healthy lifestyle.

"And, of course, your work helps people with disabilities to find a bright goal, to strengthen faith in their abilities."

The Russian Paralympic Committee has 50 regional offices across the country, and the Soviet Union competed in the Paralympic Games for the first time at Seoul in 1988 before it broke-up.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia competed as part of the Unified Team in 1992, and for the first time as Russia at the 1994 Winter Paralympics.

Russia finished eighth in the medal table at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, taking 18 gold, 23 silver and 22 bronze medals.

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