U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon takes part in the Olympics torch relay in Sochi. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov)
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Sochi show to polish Putin imageThey're designed to celebrate a millennium of Russian might and this country's modern rebound, and kick off two weeks of extraordinary human endeavors and planetary sportsmanship. But the ceremony opening the Sochi Olympics Friday, more than anything, will be about one man: Vladimir Putin. The world will be watching the entire Olympic machine in Sochi, and using what it sees to sit in judgment of Putin's Russia, where he has suffocated political opposition and ruled overtly or covertly for 15 years.Legions of small business owners, political leaders and residents of this region are also hoping things stay safe – and hoping that Putin wins his gamble that the games will turn Sochi into a year-round resort zone.Russian hockey great Vladislav Tretiak – among the best to ever play the game – has said he'll take part, and some speculate he'll be Putin's choice for the high honor of the opening ceremony.It may be too much for Putin to hope that three hours of an opening ceremony will reshape his global image.
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