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Feb 7, 2014 7:15 PM by John Patrick

Tucson Russians excited about winter games in Sochi

TUCSON - All eyes are on Sochi and that includes the local Russian community.

As the country hosts its first Olympics since 1980, Russians living in Tucson are ready for their country to shine.

Lira Makarova and Natasha Kalina have both called the U.S. home for about twenty years but remember watching the 1980 Summer Games in their native country over three decades ago.

"It's a big deal for Russians," says Makarova.

"The Olympics are always a big deal we're glued to the TV," explains Kalina.

With the Soviet war in Afghanistan the U.S was one of 65 countries to boycott the 1980 games.

The two also remember growing up with the tensions that surrounded the Olympics at that time but say that feeling is a thing of the past.

"Times have changed and Russia has changed so I don't really feel that tension anymore," says Makarova.

University of Arizona Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies Suzanne Thompson points out that is a situation that has come full circle.

"Cut to 2014 and look at who is in Afghanistan now, the U.S. So it's one of those ironies of history," says Thompson.

Having spent 12 years in Russia Thompson says those visiting the resort town on the Black Sea will be welcomed with open arms.

Thompson says, "The Olympics on a grand scale is a way for Russia to show its hospitality."

Kalina agrees that's what the Olympics are all about.

"It's getting together and showing the world what we can do together," says Kalina.

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