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“All week the IPC has been working closely with the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee in an effort to keep them here in Sochi. The talking point of Sochi 2014 needs to be great sport and great athletes, not global politics.”

The IPC has appealed for Russia to recognize the U.N.’s Olympic Truce, which asks warring parties to cease hostilities during the Olympics and Paralympics.

Ukraine finished fifth in the medals table at the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010, with a total of 19 medals and five gold.

Ukrainian athletes chanted “peace to Ukraine” as they apparently walked out of a flag-raising ceremony in Sochi on Thursday night. That is now under investigation by the IPC as a possible breach of rules banning political protests.

“What we’re trying to do is gather the evidence, gather the transcripts and then we will see if any steps are necessary,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence said. “If there was a political protest, obviously we’d be disappointed by that because we have said all week that this is about sport, not politics.”

In his speech at the ceremony, Craven noted that the former Soviet Union had refused to stage the Paralympics in 1980 in conjunction with the Moscow Olympics.

“But dreams do come true, and since winning the games seven years ago, this part of Russia has undergone a monumental transformation,” he said.

Continuing the patriotism of the Olympic opening a month earlier, Friday’s show began with rhythmic marching by 126 dancers in the colors of the Russian flag.

Russian classical music and dance were constant features in the ceremony, with dozens of young ballet dancers performing to Tchaikovsky’s “Sugar Plum Fairy.”

There were also regular animated interludes featuring the firebird, drawn by Oscar winning animator Alexander Petrov.

Even the Russian winter tradition of ice fishing was celebrated in a performance featuring dozens of wheelchair dancers.

Rarely publicly visible in Russian society, disabled people played a leading role in the ceremony, led by singer Yulia Samoilova, who led a choir in performing a song entitled “Together.”

A promotional video for the Paralympics that was displayed at the end of the ceremony explicitly spoke out against discrimination on the grounds of “sexual orientation,” a contentious issue in view of Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda” among minors.