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Vladimir Putin served as president of Russia from 2000 to 2008, and was re-elected to the presidency in 2012. He previously served as Russia's prime minister.
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In December 2012, Putin signed into a law a ban on the U.S. adoption of Russian children. According to Putin, the legislation—taking effect on January 1, 2013—aims to make it easier for Russians to adopt native orphans. The adoption ban has spurred international controversy,
reportedly leaving nearly 50 Russian children—who were in the final phases of adoption with U.S. citizens at the time that Putin signed the law—in legal limbo.
Putin further strained relations with the United States the following year. U.S. President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with Putin that August. Obama called off his visit to Russia in reaction to Putin granting asylum to Edward Snowden. Snowden is wanted by the United States for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency.
Around this time, Putin also upset many people with his new anti-gay laws. He has made it illegal for gay couples to adopt in Russia and has placed a ban on propagandizing "nontraditional" sexual relationships to minors. There have been calls to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics to be held Sochi, Russia, because of Putin's violations of human rights.
In September of 2013, tension rose between the U.S. and Syria in regards to Syria's possession of chemical weapons, resulting in the U.S. threatening to strike Syria if their weapons weren't relinquished. It was later announced that the U.S. would refrain from attacking Syria due to the cooperation of Russia and China, amongst other nations, to come up with an agreement to get Syria to release its chemical weapons.
On September 11, 2013, Putin released an op-ed piece entitled "A Plea for Caution From Russia," via The New York Times. In the article, Putin spoke directly to the U.S.'s position in taking action against Syria. He stated that by the U.S. striking Syria, despite the disapproval of several other nations, violence and unrest in the Middle East could potentially escalate. Putin went on to write that the U.S.'s intention to strike Syria under the claim that Bashar al-Assad used the chemical weapons on civilians might be misplaced, with the more likely explanation being the unauthorized use of the weapons by Syrian rebels. He closed the piece by welcoming the continuation of an open dialogue between the involved nations to avoid further conflict in the Middle East.
Russia has been selected as the host country for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The games will be held in Sochi starting on February 6. According to NBS Sports, Russia has spent roughly $50 billion in preparations for this international event.
There were some rumblings about possible boycots the Olympics over Russia's laws against homosexuality. In October 2013, Vladimir Putin tried to allay some of these concerns, saying "We will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation," in an interview broadcast on Russian television.
In terms of security for the event, Putin has implemented new measures aimed at cracking down on Muslim extremists.
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