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Putin welcomes the Olympic flame

Russian president Vladimir Putin has lit the Olympic flame on Red Square for the 123-day relay to Sochi for the Winter Games.

The flame then set out on a ceremonial loop through the Kremlin, with 11 torch-bearers participating in today's relay.

In the coming days, the flame will be paraded around Moscow before beginning its journey across Russia, the longest relay in the history of the Winter Games.

The flame will travel from the western exclave of Kaliningrad to the easternmost point just across the Bering Strait from Alaska, before swinging back through the vast country to Sochi in time for the opening ceremony on February 7.

One of the Olympic torches, unlit, will be carried into space in November for a brief visit to the International Space Station.

AP

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