Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from the left in the background… (Mikhail Klimentyev / Associated…)
MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday began a U.S.-Russian youth hockey game opening the world championship competition by declaring a minute of silence for the casualties of the Boston bombings and the West, Texas, explosion.
“In recent days, terrible tragedies that claimed lives happened in the country from which the team of our competitors today came: the terrorist act in Boston and the explosion at a Texas plant,” Putin said in televised remarks in the southern city of Sochi. “The Boston terrorist act actually took place during a sports competition, which makes this crime especially disgusting.”
Putin then expressed condolences to the people of the United States, to the injured and to the families of the slain before joining the fans in watching the game, which the Russians won, 4-3, in the final minutes.
The Russian leader’s emotional address came at a low point in U.S.-Russian relations. Moscow was angered by the recent passage of U.S. legislation imposing restrictions and financial sanctions on Russian officials allegedly involved in the prosecution and death of a Russian lawyer.
The lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, blew the whistle on an alleged $230-million scam, was arrested and died in 2009 while in custody. Human rights activists believe he was mistreated while being held.
The Kremlin retaliated for the U.S. legislation with a series of measures, including the banning Saturday of 18 U.S. officials from entering Russia.
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