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Putin Watches As Host Russia Takes Confederations Cup Opener


Before the match, spectators watched a lavish, 20-minute opening ceremony featuring 1,500 performers highlighting Russian history and culture.

Russia has beaten New Zealand in the opening match of the Confederations Cup soccer tournament in St. Petersburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the June 17 match and saw the host team's 2-0 victory with a crowd of more than 60,000 people.

Before the match, spectators watched a lavish, 20-minute opening ceremony featuring 1,500 performers highlighting Russian history and culture.

The eight-team Confederations Cup tournament is seen as a test of Russia's readiness to host the much larger 2018 World Cup.

The June 17 match was held at the Krestovsky Stadium, which was recently completed after a decade of construction at a cost of some $800 million. The project has been mired in corruption allegations for years.

Confederations Cup matches will be played in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, and Kazan. The final will be held on July 2.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry has deployed 23,000 troops, about 2,000 vehicles, and some 66 aircraft to ensure security at the tournament.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and dpa
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