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Olympics-Ukraine Olympic chief Bubka urges end of violence

Source: Reuters - Wed, 19 Feb 2014 10:24 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Bubka says athletes competing "peacefully"

* 25 protesters, police killed in past days (Updates with athletes' reaction)

By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Ukrainian Olympic Committee chief and former pole vault champion Sergey Bubka on Wednesday called for an end to violence in his country as Ukrainian athletes struggled to focus on competing at the Sochi Winter Games.

"I want to bring Olympic Truce to my country," Bubka said on Twitter. "Dialogue is power, violence is weakness.

"Our athletes are competing hard in Sochi, but peacefully and with honour. Violence has no place in the world," said Bubka, an adviser to the president of Ukraine and an Executive Board member of the International Olympic Committee.

At least 25 people were killed in fresh anti-government protests, and on Wednesday demonstrators again poured on to a central Kiev square, preparing to confront police.

"I think they should stop it for the Olympics ... Now in Ukraine they're going mad," said Dmytro Mytsak, a Ukrainian giant slalom skier from Kiev.

The 18-year-old said his parents had not mentioned the violence when they spoke before the race on Wednesday, but he was already aware of the deaths.

"We're trying not to talk about this and not to think about it for the time being. Of course it's sad what's happened," he told Reuters

"Yes it's a distraction, everyone's talking about it - even just now at the start, at the finish, people are saying, 'what's happened in your country, what's happened?'

"We're getting support from the Russian spectators and I'm grateful for that."

TERRIBLE SCENES

Many people have been killed by gunshot and hundreds have been injured, with dozens in a serious condition, police and opposition representatives said. More protests are ongoing.

"Those are terrible scenes," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters. "I'm sure that the Olympic truce is an important, symbolic thing for us - I'm not sure really that it plays much part in what's gong on there.

"But clearly we hope that the situation will be solved as quickly and with as less bloodshed as possible," Adams said.

He said any talk of the Lviv bid, of which Bubka is a leading figure, during the violence back in Ukraine was secondary.

"In terms of Lviv and the bid, I think at this stage with the terrible things that are going on at the moment, I think we should concentrate on what's going on there and hope that solves itself in as peaceful a way as possible.

"It is not really right to be speculating on an Olympic bid when such things are happening."

Lviv is up against Poland's Krakow, Beijing, Kazakhstan's Almaty and Norwegian capital Oslo with a shortlist of cities to be drawn up in five months. (Additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan in Rosa Khutor, Editing by Mike Collett-White/Peter Rutherford)

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