uses Olympics cash to start Soviet-style fitness program
Send a link to a friend
[March 25, 2014] By
— President Vladimir Putin
launched a program to improve the physical fitness of Russians on
Monday, using funds from the Winter Olympics to revive a Soviet-era
Speaking at a meeting with officials in the Kremlin,
Putin said that reinstating the plan, first introduced in the 1930s
under Joseph Stalin and known in Russia by the acronym GTO, would
"pay homage to our national historical traditions".
Putin said funds earmarked for the Winter Games in Sochi last month
but unused would go to support sports venues and promote healthy
lifestyles among Russians from the age of 6.
"The Olympics and Paralympics have demonstrated that we are again
becoming one of the leaders in global sports," Putin said, after his
country hosted the $50-billion games.
Putin frequently harks back to the Soviet era to appeal to nostalgic
The end of the Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympics in Sochi
were marred by events in Ukraine which led to Russia's annexation of
its Crimea region in a move condemned by the West and the new
government in Kiev.
The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on
Russia over the move but it has boosted Putin's popularity at home,
where almost half of Russians said they supported the referendum to
make Crimea part of Russia, according to a poll by the independent
Levada Center published earlier this month.
[to top of second column]
Putin's own approval ratings were at 72 percent, up from 65 percent
at the beginning of the year, according to another poll published by
Levada this month.
The president has been seeking to increase Russians' life
expectancy and stem a demographic decline that has seen the
population fall to below 142 million in 2011 from 148.6 million in
1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; editing by Janet Lawrence)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.