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Sochi in the Spotlight

Russia -- (L-R) Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visit the mountain Laura Cross Country and Biathlon Centre near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on January 3, 2014.

With a little over two weeks to go before the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, most of the attention has been on anything but the sporting spectacle to take place. Terrorism fears, human rights outrage, corruption allegations, and an attention-grabbing leader in President Vladimir Putin has Sochi in the political spotlight. Leading up to the Opening Ceremony, RFE/RL and guest experts will host a series of discussions on the political and social engineering, financing, security and local dynamics of the Sochi games.

Google+ Hangout -- Russia: Sochi in the Spotlight

Thursday, January 23
11 a.m. (Washington, DC) / 5 p.m. (Prague) / 8 p.m. (Moscow)

Watch the Hangout here:

Irina Lagunina - Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Radio Svoboda, where she previously served as a Senior Broadcaster and host of the daily analytical radio journal “Time & World.” Prior to joining RFE/RL in 1995, Lagunina worked as the foreign policy and diplomatic editor for the Russian magazine “New Times" and the “Moscow News.” She was in the media pool of the Russian Foreign Ministry, covering the end of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, wars in the former Yugoslavia, and ethnic conflicts in former Soviet Union. She also contributed to the 1999 study “ Kosovo News & Propaganda War ” by The International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria.

Anastasia Kirilenko - Correspondent with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, where she has worked since 2009 and is the author of several investigative reports, most recently about the Sochi Olympic games. Kirilenko has an MA in Journalism from Moscow State University and graduated from the Faculty of International Relations and Law at Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management in 2006. She has also contributed to the online platform "Caucasian Knot" and "Courier international."

Ekaterina Sokirianskaia - North Caucasus Project Director with International Crisis Group, supervising activities and advocacy efforts in the region. Before joining ICG, she held positions at the Memorial Human Rights Center from 2007-2008 in Russia's Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria, and was a Researcher and Programs Supervisor for the Republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. Sokirianskaia holds a Ph.D. from Central European University, has taught courses as Assistant Professor at Chechen State University, is a member of the Expert Council with the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, a Board Member of International Memorial, and is the author of numerous publications, public lectures and successful short documentaries.

Brian Whitmore, Moderator - Europe Desk Editor for RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and the writer of "The Power Vertical" blog.

We invite you to post questions in advance and follow updates for live links to the Google+ Hangout on Twitter and Facebook.