By Alexei Anishchuk SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Ukraine's Paralympic chief, Valeriy Sushkevich, said on Friday his team would quit the Winter Paralympic Games if Russia invaded his home country, and that he hoped the competition would be able to spread peace instead. Russia is holding the Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi at a time when it is being criticised for its actions in Ukraine's southern region of Crimea, where the West accuses Russia of seizing military and government institutions. While Putin says he has the right to send in troops to defend Russian compatriots there but that so far he sees no need to do so. "If there is an escalation of the conflict, intervention on the territory of our country, God forbid the worst, we would not be able to stay here, we would go," Sushkevich told a news conference.
Over 65,000 people waving Russian flags and banners attended a rally in central Moscow on Friday, in a show of solidarity with pro-Russian authorities in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, police said. The rally, entitled "We are together", which began with Russian pop star Oleg Gazmanov singing patriotic songs, took place just outside the walls of the Kremlin. Crimean parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov, who earlier met top lawmakers in Moscow, offered greetings "from Crimea" as he took to the stage amid cheers. "Yesterday we took a historic decision," he said, referring to a request by the autonomous republic's parliament to join Russia, a move they want voters to ratify in a March 16 referendum.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth accelerated sharply in February despite the icy weather that gripped much of the nation, easing fears of an abrupt economic slowdown and keeping the Federal Reserve on track to continue reducing its monetary stimulus. Employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month after creating 129,000 new positions in January, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, as Americans flooded into the labor market to search for work. "This bodes well for the economy since there were massive headwinds," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive at Sarhan Capital in New York.