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Russian Lawmaker: Less Homework, More Sochi Watching

A leading lawmaker from President Vladimir Putin's ruling party has urged Russian schoolteachers to cut back on homework assignments so children can spend more time watching the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

"In my opinion, the Olympics is a huge source of education for our youth. I have a suggestion to my colleagues -- cut homework so that our children and grandchildren can watch the Olympics, see our athletes, see international athletes, see Olympic champions," Nikolai Bulayev said.

"In my opinion, that would be the correct decision."

The call came on the heels of the Russian Army's decision to give some troops an extra four hours off per day to watch television so that they can cheer on Russia's athletes.

In Sochi, meanwhile, organizers are increasingly worried that after two more nights of freezing weather, the temperature is forecast to shoot up to 11 degrees Celsius on February 14.

In a separate development, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Luge Federation (FIL) on February 12 honored Nodar Kumaritashvili on the fourth anniversary of the Georgian luger's death.

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However, no official ceremony marking Kumaritashvili's death is expected at Sochi.

Kumaritashvili died in a crash on the track on February 12, 2010, shortly before the opening of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. He was 21.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, on February 12 urged foreign visitors to the Winter Olympics to stay away from its Russia-backed breakaway territory of Abkhazia, just south of Sochi along the Black Sea coast.

The region declared independence from Georgia shortly after Russia defeated Georgia in a brief 2008 war. Only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and two Pacific island states have recognized Abkhazia as an independent country.

However, asked about the IOC's view on Olympic visitors going to Abkhazia, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said he saw no reason not to go.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP

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