Russia “Not Really Concerned” Over Obama's Absence From Sochi

The organizing committee for Russia’s Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics said Thursday it was "not really concerned" that President Barack Obama would not be attending the event, according to NBC News. Sochi will be the first games since 2000 not attended by a U.S. president, first lady, or vice president. Obama said the decision was due to a busy schedule, but it has come against a backdrop of increased tensions with Moscow. When asked if Obama's decision was a concern, Head of Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov told NBC News: "It's not a summit, which only the country leaders attend. So we’re not really concerned about it." But it is Russia banning "homosexual propaganda" that has prompted many Western celebrities and rights groups to call for a boycott of the games. Many have interpreted Russia's recent actions--pardoning of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, releasing the remaining members of punk band Pussy Riot, and the expected release of 30 Greenpeace activists detained since September--as attempts to soothe criticism in the run-up to Sochi.

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