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MOSCOW, October 3 (R-Sport) - The Sochi 2014 Olympic torch relay looks set to bring sections of downtown Moscow to a standstill when the flame starts its journey across the country next week.
Authorities in the capital announced Thursday that at least eight central streets, boulevards and embankments would be sealed off for the first leg of the relay, which starts on Red Square on Monday.
The Moscow leg of the record-breaking 65,000 kilometer route across Russia will take two days and involve around 300 torchbearers, before heading north to St. Petersburg and then east towards Siberia.
The flame was lit from the sun's rays Sunday at a traditional ceremony in Ancient Olympia, Greece, where Russian hockey star Alexander Ovechkin was the second torchbearer after Greek skier Ioannis Antoniou. Footage of Ovechkin's run will be shown to Washington Capitals fans on the jumbo screen ahead of their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at the Verizon Center later Thursday.
The flame is currently touring 33 Greek towns and cities before being transported to Moscow on Saturday.
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov is among the torchbearers for the first stage of the relay, which will eventually loop around the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East, down to Vladivostok and then back across southern Siberia via Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
Travelling through more than 2,900 towns in Russia’s 83 regions, the torch will make its way back into European Russia, before heading down to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the opening ceremony on February 7, 2014.
The cauldron is to be lit by a torch that will be taken into space.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.