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SBD Global/November 7, 2013/Olympics

Russian Cosmonauts To Take Olympic Torch On First Space Walk This Week

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio gestures toward the Olympic torch during a press conference Wednesday.
Two Russian cosmonauts "will take the Olympic torch on its first space walk this week in a spectacular showcase" for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Alissa de Carbonnel of REUTERS. For safety reasons, "the torch will not be lit." That "may be a relief for Russia," as the flame has gone out many times since the torch relay began last month, a "minor setback as President Vladimir Putin tries to use the Games to boost Russia's image." Russian Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Japan's Koichi Wakata "will have the torch with them" on Thursday when they blast off for the Int'l Space Station from the Baikonur cosmodrome, which Moscow rents from Kazakhstan. Tyurin will hand the torch off to fellow cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, "who are on the orbiting station," when they go on a space walk on Saturday. The torch will return to Earth with Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, American astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on Monday (REUTERS, 11/6). R-SPORT reported the "primary objective is to photograph one of the cosmonauts holding the torch with the earth as the backdrop -- ideally the moment they pass over Sochi." An Olympic torch "has been into the cosmos before but has never been taken on a spacewalk." The torch "has already traveled to the North Pole and is also set to ascend Eurasia's tallest mountain, Mount Elbrus, later in the relay" (R-SPORT, 11/6).

RUSSIA APOLOGIZES TO JOURNALISTS: REUTERS' Thomas Grove wrote Russia "apologised on Wednesday to two foreign journalists who were repeatedly questioned and detained by police" during a trip to report on the 2014 Sochi Olympics preparations. Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that local law enforcement officials abused their posts in the incidents last week, leading to "a series of unwarranted actions towards the citizens of Norway." The statement read, "In this regard we apologise to Mr. Bogen and Mr. Aune. The current situation will undoubtedly be worked out in detail and those guilty will receive the corresponding punishment. We would like to assure you that the executive authorities of the Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to avoid the repetition of similar cases in the future" (REUTERS, 11/6).
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