08/10/2013 03:54 EDT | Updated 10/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Putin says Russia is grateful for the trust shown by having Moscow host athletics worlds

MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin says he's grateful for the international trust shown to Russia by having Moscow host the athletics world championships.

The Russian president's comments at the opening ceremony of the nine-day championships come as worldwide protests increase ahead of next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi. The protests centre on a recently passed Russian law banning homosexual "propaganda."

Putin did not mention the issue in his short remarks on Saturday. But he did say that "our country is hosting the world athletics champions for the first time and we prize the trust that has been shown to us."