Huge cheer for Ukraine's flag-bearer as Winter Paralympics get under way
Published 08/03/2014 | 02:30
Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Paralympics in Sochi yesterday.
The appearance of the Ukranian flagbearer, biathlete Mykhaylo Tkachenko, drew a roar from the capacity crowd at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.
The Ukrainian team had announced only a few hours earlier that it would not boycott the games, unless the situation in Crimea escalated.
Competition begins today with Alpine skiing, biathlon, curling and hockey events, with a record 72 gold medals on offer.
Rarely publicly visible in Russian society, disabled people played a leading role in the ceremony, led by singer Yulia Samoilova.
A promotional video for the Paralympics that was displayed at the end of the ceremony explicitly spoke out against discrimination on the grounds of "sexual orientation", a contentious issue in view of Russia's law banning gay "propaganda" among minors.