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Putin comes to Sochi as 2014 Winter Olympics approach

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the opening of the 126th session of the International Olympic Committee at the Zimny Theatre on Tuesday in Sochi, Russia.

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SOCHI, Russia — Stroking a Persian leopard sprawled on his lap, tough-guy President Vladimir Putin showed his softer side Thursday as he prepared to welcome the world to his budget-busting Winter Olympics.
Basking in the glow of support from International Olympic Committee Chairman Thomas Bach, Putin began his stay at the Sochi Games by promoting a cuddly image, visiting a group of endangered Persian leopard cubs born last summer in the mountains above the Black Sea resort.
“We’ve decided to restore the population of the Persian leopard because of the Olympic Games,” Putin said. “Let’s say that because of ...

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