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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Lauded as Hero of the Winning Bid

In 2005 the organizers were keeping the news quiet. Early Thursday, the skies filled with fireworks as revelers screamed and shouted with joy. What a difference two years make.

While most of the country slept, more than 15,000 people packed into Sochi's main square to hear that their city had won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, an announcement that will change the Black Sea resort forever.

The crowd then danced until dawn to the sounds of pop stars like Dima Bilan.

Despite the groans that had passed through the crowd when a promotional video for the South Korean bid was mistaken for a sign that Sochi had lost, there was no need to resort to the same trickery used the last time Russia was in the running to host an Olympic Games.

Two years ago, during the voting to decide the host for the 2012 Summer Olympics, organizers at a similar event near Red Square waited until just before the final announcement to let the crowd in on the fact that Moscow had been knocked out of the running at the start of voting, more than an hour earlier.

On Thursday, the word "Urraa" was easily the most popular in Russian blogs, the political world and beyond as a constant stream of congratulations and symbolic pats on the back were the order for the Sochi team.

"Russia has risen from its knees," Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said in Guatemala, but back in Russia they were almost kneeling right back down in lavish praise for the clear hero of the day.

President Valdimir Putin's role -- an MP3 of his fluent, if thickly accented English speech was already making its way around the Internet on Thursday -- in getting the games for his favorite holiday town did not go unnoticed.

"The victory for the right to hold the Olympics is a personal victory for Russia's president," Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the Chechen republic, the proximity of which had led many foreign observers to dismiss Sochi's chances, offered to send workers from the republic to help with the construction of Olympic venues.

Perhaps because the Olympics are still seven years away, talk inevitably returned to a question that has come to seem almost as eternal as the Olympic flame: What will Putin do after the presidential 2008 election?

Kommersant's Andrei Kolesnikov, who knows the president better than any other journalist, playfully asked Putin as he left the bid presentation in Guatemala whether he would be on hand to open the games in 2014 himself.

"Well, it's too early to ... plan," Putin said.

Kolesnikov assumed he meant that Sochi had not yet won, and not whether Putin would return as president in 2012.

Back in Moscow, Mironov said he was sure that Putin would back in office to open the games as president.

Not everyone was as thrilled by the victory, and critics of the plans for the Games said they would fight on.

"This decision has given the Russian government a green light to destroy the nature of this region and infringe upon of the rights of residents," the Against the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014 group said in a statement on its web site.