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SOCHI, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped in Friday at Team USA House at the Sochi Olympics.
The visit was confirmed in a tweet from the U.S. Olympic team:
Putin has cultivated a friendly image at an Olympics meant to showcase his country’s resurrection from post-Soviet collapse. Earlier in the games, he raised a toast with Dutch athletes, visited Austria House and took in figure skating.
Even in an atmosphere of Olympic goodwill, the visit to USA House, a building just off Olympic Park in Sochi where athletes and their families mingle with VIPs, was remarkable. The United States and Russia have butted heads over a number of issues, including the upheaval in Ukraine and Russia’s treatment of gays.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both skipped the games, and Obama pointedly sent a ceremonial delegation that included three openly gay former Olympians.
The visit caused something of a scene. An American luge athlete, Chris Mazdzer, tweeted a photo with the Russian leader in the background:
And it wasn’t long after that that Putin turned up nearby at Canada House. This tweet was posted by Hayley Wickenheiser of the Canadian hockey team: