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German president boycotting Sochi Olympics after previous criticism of human rights violations

BERLIN — German President Joachim Gauck is boycotting the Winter Olympics and will not travel to Sochi, Russia next year.

Der Spiegel reports that Gauck took the decision in protest against human rights violations and the harassment of Russian opposition political figures. The magazine says the Russian government was informed of his decision last week.

The dpa news agency says presidential spokeswoman Ferdos Ferudastan confirmed the move on Sunday. Gauck’s office could not immediately be reached for further confirmation.

Gauck, an outspoken critic of Russia’s human-rights record, is yet to visit the country since taking office in March 2012. A planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2012 fell through, apparently for scheduling reasons.

Gauck travelled to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London last year.

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