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French ministers boycott Sochi paralympics opening

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) visits the mountain Paralympic village on the eve of the opening of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) visits the mountain Paralympic village on the eve of the opening of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games Reuters/Ria Novosti

French ministers were to boycott the opening of the Paralympiques in Sochi on Friday in protest at Russia's military presence in Ukraine. But French athletes will compete.

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"They won't be there. It would have been very inappropriate for French ministers to be there," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French radio.

But he said there would be no question of "penalising" French athletes, who have "worked in very difficult conditions to be there".

The Ukrainian flag was raised at the welcome ceremony in Sochi on Thursday as Europe and the US announced limited sanctions against Moscow.

A European Union ministers' meeting suspending talks on trade liberalisation and US President Barack Obama imposing action against individuals judged responsible for the Russian intervention in Crimea.

The US, Norway and Britain earlier announced that they would not send delegations to the opening ceremony.

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