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German President Won't Go To Sochi Olympics

German President Joachim Gauck (in file photo) is a former Lutheran pastor
The office of German President Joachim Gauck has announced that he will not attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which have come under intense scrutiny in connection with recent laws that ban homosexual "propaganda" in Russia.

Gauck's office on December 8 confirmed a report in "Der Spiegel" magazine that the president would not travel to the Olympics in late February.

A spokeswoman, however, stressed that the gesture was not a "boycott," pointing out that several former German presidents had also stayed away from Winter Games.

"Der Spiegel" had reported that Gauck would snub the Sochi Winter Games in response to the Russian's government's tough stance on civil rights and its treatment of the political opposition.

Gauck -- who was a Christian pastor and civil rights activist in former communiust East Germany -- has not made an official visit to Russia since he took office in 2012.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP