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Russia Opens Ice-Hockey World Championships

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev participates in the opening ceremony of the Ice Hockey World Championships in Moscow.

The top 16 national teams in ice hockey will compete in the annual World Championships starting on May 6 in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will participate in the opening ceremony at the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow. Also present will be presidential aide Igor Levitin, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, and International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel.

Competing countries have been divided into two groups. Group A, whose games will be held in Moscow, includes teams from Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, Denmark, and Kazakhstan.

Group B, which will compete in St. Petersburg, includes teams from Canada, Finland, the United States, Slovakia, Belarus, France, Germany and Hungary.

Russia is marginally favored to win in what could become Moscow's first title on home ice since a Soviet team's victory in 1986.

It faces a tough challenge from Canada, however, which trounced Russia in the finals last year.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS