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Sochi Ceremony Whispers: Tatu? First Woman in Space?

17:46 31.01.2014 (Last updated 12:09 04.02.2014)

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  © RIA Novosti. Ilya Pitalev

MOSCOW, January 31 (R-Sport) - "Savethesurprise" was the Twitter hashtag campaign that kept details of the London 2012 opening ceremony under wraps, but Sochi’s Olympic organizers may not have had the same success, to judge by the sheer number of rumors flying around a week before the ceremony.

The most tantalizing claim is that pop duo tATu, best known for their lesbian schoolgirl shtick, could perform - if true, a surprise decision given the recent controversy over Russian laws banning the promotion of homosexuality to under 18s.

“They’ve invited us to appear at the opening of the Olympics in Sochi,” reads a message apparently written on the verified Twitter page of tATu singer Lena Katina, then swiftly deleted. Organization for the ceremony is “a nightmare,” the message continues.

There has been no word from the organizing committee on the subject.

Little is known about the ceremony itself, except the show's start time - 2014 local time (1614 GMT) to match the year - and the stadium’s cauldron will be lit using a torch that was carried into space by two Russian cosmonauts in November.

Unofficially, another renowned Russian with an awkward relationship to the much-debated anti-gay law is in the frame for a Sochi Olympic role. Orchestra conductor Valery Gergiev is a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which has led to his concerts being picketed by gay rights groups, although Gergiev himself has said he does not support the law.

He is to feature in the ceremony along with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, and director Nikita Mikhalkov, according to supposed “inside” information posted on Twitter by well-connected socialite and TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak.

Interestingly, Sobchak has also tipped Olympic gold medal-winning rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva for a role in lighting the Olympic flame come February 7. Kabaeva, now a member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party, was once romantically linked by tabloids with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who vehemently denied the alleged affair.

Kabaeva's appearance in Sochi would be controversial for the reason that she served a ban for doping during her career. Aged 18, she was stripped of six world championship medals after testing positive for a banned diuretic in 2001.

One Russian celebrity who has admitted Olympic involvement is piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev, who said in November he has postponed concerts to take on a vaguely defined Olympic role. He is to play to guests in the stadium before the ceremony starts, according to Sobchak.

“At the Olympics I’ll be actively participating in various guises,” said Matsuev, who has appeared at the world’s top concert venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Festival Hall.

“I won’t reveal any secrets, but I’ll be taking part both creatively and as a fan. Because of that I’ve specially moved all my concerts. From the opening to the closing, I’ll be at the Olympics.”

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