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Blatter: 'Russia will be fantastic' World Cup hosts

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter told Russian premier Vladimir Putin that the world governing body has complete trust in the country hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Blatter greets Putin ahead of today's qualifying draw. Credit: PA

Blatter met Putin ahead of the draw for the qualifying competition for the finals and the pair then shared the stage at the ceremony at St Petersburg's Konstantinovsky Palace.

The 79-year-old made no mention of the crisis that has engulfed Fifa, saying in his speech: "Today is an important day in the long and winding road to the World Cup 2018. We are on track, Russia will be a fantastic host. It will be a wonderful moment for Russia, the rest of the world and for football.

"Hundreds of thousands of visiting fans will come to Russia for the first time in their lives and will be met with warmth, friendship and real Russian hospitality."

Earlier, Blatter said to Putin there was "complete trust" in Russia's ability to host the tournament - significant given that the Swiss attorney general is investigating the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Blatter said: "We say 'yes' to Russia. Our support is especially important during the current geopolitical situation."

In response, Putin said to Blatter: "As promised, we will do all we can for sportsmen and fans alike to feel at home here."

Putin: We won World Cup bid fairly

Vladimir Putin has insisted that the 2018 football World Cup will go ahead in his country, despite the launch of an investigation into alleged corruption during the bidding process.

Putin doesn't believe the decision to host the World Cup can be changed Credit: Reuters

The Russian president said England's failure to secure the tournament came about because the bid team did not exhibit its country's potential as a host.

Prosecutors in Switzerland are conducting an investigation into allegations of money laundering surrounding Fifa's handling of the 2010 bidding process which led to Russia being named hosts for 2018 and Qatar for 2022.

But Mr Putin said: "If anyone has evidence, let them present it. We won in a fair fight and we are going to host the World Cup. Any other decision we will consider unfair."

"Great Britain did not exhibit all their potential for what it needed to do to win the World Cup.

"We don't think we are guilty of anything. We fought for the bid fairly. We don't think the decision can be changed. Construction of the stadia has begun and the next World Cup is very soon."


Putin sends telegram to congratulate Blatter on Fifa win

Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram to Fifa President Sepp Blatter congratulating him on his re-election, the Kremlin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Sepp Blatter at last year's World Cup. Credit: Reuters

"The head of the Russian state expressed confidence that experience, professionalism and high authority will help Blatter in future encourage the spread in the geography and popularity of football in the whole world," a Kremlin statement said.

Russia was interested in co-operating with Fifa in general and in particular in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it said.

Over the 17 years that you have stood at the head of FIFA, you have acquired great respect among fans, coaches and players. I am certain that your experience and organisational talent, and your efforts aimed at consistently expanding football’s geography will serve to further develop and increase the popularity of this ‘number one sport’ that unites millions of fans all over the world.

I would like to stress that Russia is ready for further close and constructive cooperation with FIFA, which is especially important ahead of the 2018 World Cup. I am confident that through our joint efforts, we will hold an exceptional championship from an organisational and athletic standpoint.”

– Telegram from Vladimir Putin to Sepp Blatter

Putin accuses US of meddling with Fifa investigation

Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of meddling after senior Fifa officials were arrested on suspicion of corruption following an investigation by the FBI.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Sepp Blatter at last year's World Cup. Credit: Reuters

Russian officials said yesterday that the country's 2018 World Cup bid was fully compliant after Swiss authorities said they were investigating allegations of "criminal mismanagement and money laundering" in connection with the awarding of the tournament.

Attacking the corruption investigation into Fifa, Mr Putin said: "This is yet another blatant attempt (by the United States) to extend its jurisdiction to other states.

He said the arrests were a "clear attempt" to prevent the re-election of Fifa president head Sepp Blatter, who he said had Russia's backing.

John Kerry to meet Vladimir Putin in Sochi for talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Tuesday for talks on Ukraine, Syria and Iran.

Vladimir Putin (L) and John Kerry pictured during Kerry's last visit to Russia in 2013. Credit: Reuters

Mr Kerry's trip to Russia - his first since 2013 - is aimed at maintaining "direct lines of communication" with the Kremlin and to "ensure US views are clearly conveyed", the US State Department said.

The visit comes amid a period of heightened tension between the US and Russia over the latter's actions in the Ukraine conflict.

A diplomatic source was quoted by Russian media as saying that Kerry's visit "is very symbolic".


President Putin: Life would be 'boring without gossip'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to suggestions that he had been forced to lie low because of ill health saying that life without rumours would be boring.

"It would be boring without gossip," Putin said in his first public appearance since March 5.

Putin is meeting with Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in Saint Petersburg.

Russia's President Putin to return after 10 day absence

President Vladimir Putin is set to appear in public later after an unusually long 10-day absence. Putin is expected to meet with Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in Saint Petersburg. A Kremlin official told AFP that the meeting was on track to take place.

Russia's President Putin to return after 10 day absence. Credit: PA

The Russian President was last seen in public at a news conference on March 5 with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Rumours of Putin's poor health dismissed

Russian leader Vladimir Putin Credit: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin is so healthy his handshake could "break your hand", his spokesman said.

Dmitry Peskov dismissed rumours circulating on the internet that the Russian leader is in poor health in an interview on the radio station Ekho Moskvy.

A Kremlin announcement yesterday that Putin was postponing an upcoming trip to Kazakhstan set off a flurry of rumours, with some suggesting he could be seriously ill or planning the removal of a major government figure.

Putin has not been seen in public since he gave a televised address to members of the Interior Ministry on March 5.

Putin: Plans to take control of Crimea began before referendum

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered for work to start on taking control of Crimea weeks before a referendum which Kremlin officials claimed prompted the region's annexation from Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin Credit: Reuters

In an interview with Russian state television channel Rossiya-1 broadcast on Sunday, Putin said that the plans were first discussed in February last year during an emergency meeting about the overthrow of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich.

His account is at odds with previous Kremlin statements that claimed that the annexation decision was taken after the referendum on March 16, when Crimeans voted to become part of the Russian Federation.

This was on the night of Feb. 22 through to Feb. 23. We finished around 7 in the morning. And, while saying goodbye, I told all the colleagues: 'We have to start the work on Crimea's return into Russia'."

– President Vladimir Putin

Western governments have condemned Russia's intervention in Crimea as illegal, with the European Union and United States imposing sanctions on Moscow.

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