Monthly Archives: August 2013

INDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 23 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 23 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 27th special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowlege or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
In the Name of Security, Putin Issues Unpreccedented Ban on Meetings and Limits Movement around Sochi … President Vladimir Putin issues a detailed 2000-word decree banning meetings and limiting movement in a zone around Sochi for a period beginning a month before the competition and ending a month after it, the most sweeping security measures ever imposed at the time of an Olympiad. For its full text, see rg.ru/2013/08/23/bezopasnost-dok.html).
… Draws Nearly Universal Condemnation for Sweep of Decree’s Provisions … While some Russian and Western writers suggested that such draconian measures were needed given how close Sochi is to the troubled North Caucasus, reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Among the critics were the Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus which said that Putin was using “the ‘smokescreen’” of security to impose illegal and unconstitutional limits on Russian Freedom and was working to help Gazprom with its development projects (ewnc.org/node/12166); Ansar.ru, a Muslim cite, which said that Putin was introducing “martial law” in Sochi even though he hasn’t used that term (ansar.ru/rfsng/2013/08/26/43084); Lev Levinson, an expert at the Institute of Human Rights, who noted that the basis of “filtration” of visitors was necessarily unconstitutional and far in excess of security measures taken in Moscow in 1980 .kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229015/);  a Russian blogger who argued that Putin’s decree  makes Sochi into “a special regime” camp in the name of control (vk.com/wall41706503_3599?w=away41706503_3599); Tatyana Lokshina, a Moscow-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, who said Putin has “effectively turn[ed] Sochi into a special operation zone” (hurriyetdailynews.com/olympics-putin-bans-protests-in-sochi-causing-lgbt-activists-outcry.aspx?pageID=238&nid=53140&NewsCatID=353); London’s Daily Telegraph which described Putin as having created “a forbidden zone” in Sochi (skift.com/2013/08/23/vladimir-putin-declares-forbidden-zone-around-sochi-olympic-resort/); Dozhd television which called his move as making Sochi into a Soviet-style “closed city” (blogsochi.ru/content/dozhd-kak-olimpiiskii-kurort-prevratyat-v-zakrytyi-gorod); and by Sochi residents themselves as having made Sochi into “an Olympic concentration camp” (newsru.com/russia/23aug2013/sochi.htmland blogsochi.ru/content/ukaz-vladimira-putina-ot-19082013-%E2%84%96686-ob-olimpiiskom-kontslagere-v-sochi). It turns out, commentator JT Maxwell says, that “paradise,” as Putin often describes Sochi, “can only be preserved by barbed wire” and making it into the latest iteration of the GULAG (vocativ.com/08-2013/putins-olympics-crackdown-rebels-say-hes-turning-sochi-into-a-gulag/).
… And Faces Challenges in Russian and European Courts. Nikolay Alekseyev, a leader of the Russian gay community, said Putin had no right to ban demonstrations in Sochi and that his group would go ahead with plans for them.  In the meantime, he said, his group is going to bring suit first in Russian courts and then in the European Court for Human Rights to block the Putin decree (voanews.com/content/reu-putin-olympic-security-decree-human-rights/1736458.html and sports.nationalpost.com/2013/08/23/rallies-at-sochi-olympics-banned-by-russian-president-vladimir-putin/).
Moscow Media Say Kremlin Paying for Sochi by Cutting Aid to Families, Pensioners. Newspapers in the Russian capital say that analysis prepared by the Finance Ministry shows that the Kremlin is paying for the high costs of the Sochi Games by reducing payments to families and cutting pensions, a trade off many Russians mind objectionable (newsru.com/finance/29aug2013/olimp.html).
Coca-Cola Company Promises to ‘Engage’ IOC on Gay Rights. Faced with LGBT demands, the symbolic dumping of Coke in New York sewers, and the possibility of a boycott of its products, the Coca-Cola Company, one of the largest corporate sponsors of the Sochi Olympiad says that “we are engaging with the International Olympic Committee on this important matter. We believe a more positive impact can be made through continued involvement, rather than by sitting on the sidelines” (towleroad.com/2013/08/gay-groups-protest-coca-cola-in-response-to-sochi-2014-sponsorship.html and coca-colacompany.com/press-center/company-statements/sochi-olympics-sponsorship#TCCC).
“It Gets Better’ Founder Backs Sochi Boycott.  Dan Savage,who founded the “It Gets Better”organization to fight for LGBT rights says he supports boycotts both of vodka because of its symbolism as “a Russian national product” and the Sochi Olympiad. If a boycott does not happen, then he hopes for protests (voboda.org/content/article/25089870.html).
Sochi Police Don’t Respond to Migrant Calls.  A meeting of representatives of 38 diaspora communities in Sochi says that despite the fact that officials admit there have been more than 600 complaints about the violation of their rights by the authorities, the police in the Olympic city don’t answer telephone calls for help (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229159/ ).
Russian Paper Says in Sochi, Mayor is the Problem.  Reflecting popular protests against the  often bombastic Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov – his opponents say he practices “the big lie” technique” of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (blogsochi.ru/content/chem-silnee-lozh-tem-okhotnee-v-nee-veryat-iozef-gebbels) — the convictions of many of his associates, and problems with Olympic construction, Federal Press says that Sochi is “suffering from a sharp crisis of administration” and lays much of the blame at the feet of Pakhomov, an indication that the outspoken mayor might be replaced  (blogsochi.ru/content/federalpress-krizis-upravleniya-sochi-v-odnom-litse).
Many Sochi Residents Not Getting Even Cold Water.  After months of scheduled power outages and occasional water cutbacks, large numbers of Sochi residents are without even cold water, apparently because of a construction accident that cut through a major water main in the city. Officials have promised to restore the water as soon as possible, but residents are angry that in this warm period, they have no water at al (blogsochi.ru/content/sos-net-kholodnoi-vody and
New Yorker Writer Calls for Building Two Permanent Olympic Venues.  In a New Yorker blog, Ian Crouch says that continuing problems with Olympic venues, including those at Sochi, should lead the international community to establish two Olympic cities, one north and one south, as permanent venues for the games rather than allow the corrupt competition for sites to continue (newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2013/08/a-plan-to-save-the-olympic-games.html).
Sochi Will ‘Either Be a Celebration of Repression or Resistance,’ Nation Writer Says. Dave Zirin says that “Fighting injustice actually demands having a fight. The IOC won’t do it for us. If you stand for LGBT rights, then you need to stand up, pick a side, throw on your rainbow colored gloves, and start fighting. In the end, the story of Sochi will either be the celebration of repression or resistance. The time to organize resistance begins now, with no illusions in the IOC, their corporate sponsors, or the good will of our own government” (thenation.com/blog/175695/why-banning-russia-olympics-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-idea#axzz2dIZ2JSdm).
Krasnodar Governor Wants to Ensure Migrant Workers Leave Sochi.  Aleksandr Tkachev says that he backs a plan under which migrant workers in Sochi will not be given their pay until they have a ticket to go home. More than 70 percent of the 80,000 workers at the Sochi sites a migrants, and over half of the population of Sochi consists of migrants (nazaccent.ru/content/8891-inostrannym-rabochim-s-olimpijskoj-strojki-ne.html,2014.info/news/gastarbajteram-olimpiady-2014-uzhe-kupleny-bilety-domoj/kavpolit.com/migranty-na-olimpijskoj-strojke-ne-poluchat-zhalovanie-poka-im-ne-predostavyat-bilet-domoj/,avmalgin.livejournal.com/3979552.htmlkp.ru/daily/26075/2981516/  andwww.kommersant.ru/doc/2265119).
Officials Say Illegal Gastarbeiters May Cause Even More Problems After Games. The thousands of workers brought to Sochi to build the Olympic venues and support facilities are likely to cause even more problems after the games are finished, security officials there say, arguing that they must be sent home lest an explosion happen. As of September 1, officials plan to round up and deport as many illegals as they can find, an action that in itself may involve more violations of their rights and clashes between the Gastarbeiters and the authorities (http://www.sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/08/27/  %D1%81-1-%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%82%D1%8F%D0%B1%D1%80%D1%8F-%D0%B2-%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B8-%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%87%D0%BD%D1%83%D1%82%D1%81%D1%8F-%D0%B7%D0%B0%D1%87%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%BB%D1%8B%D1%85-%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2-%D0%BE%D1%82-%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2/).
Olympic Contractors Violate Laws by Dumping Waste, Officials Say. Despite promises in July that they would cease and desist and growing anger among Sochi residents, contractors working on Olympic venues continue to dump their trash without regard to Russian law. Some contractors have received small fines but that does not seem to have had much effect (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229160/ and blogsochi.ru/content/rosprirodnadzor-oshtrafuet-rzhdstroi-za-vyval-otkhodov-v-akhshtyrskii-karer).
Vladivostok Did Not Attract the Investment Moscow Promised.  A year after the Asian Pacific Summit in the Russian Far Eastern city, it is clear, observers say, that the massive spending by Moscow in advance of that meeting has not sparked the kind of foreign investment there that Russian officials had suggested, an indication of the likely future of Sochi and environs after the Olympiad (svpressa.ru/society/article/73212/).
Sochi Police Using Security Cameras to Catch Parking Violations.  The Sochi police are using the expensive system of television monitors to catch people who violate the city’s increasingly stringent parking rules rather than for the purposes of security they were intended (sochiadm.ru/press-sluzhba/19189/).
Amnesty International Says Putin’s Ban on Meetings in Sochi Violates Russian Rights. Sergey Nikitin, hed of Amnesty International’s Moscow office, says that his organization sees in Putin’s ban of meetings in the Sochi area before, during and after the Olympics “an obvious violation of citizens’ rights, especially the ones described in the well-known article 31 of the Russian constitution which guarantees citizens’ rights to peaceful demonstrations, marches and rallies, etc. Also, it violates another article of the constitution: the freedom of movements” (euronews.com/2013/08/26/sochi-2014-amnesty-international-reacts-to-putin-s-ban-on-public-gatherings/).
Scholar Says Circassian National Movement, Anti-Sochi Effort Reinforcing One Another.  A.Kh. Borov says that the anti-Sochi campaign arose out of the Circassian movement and in turn has given that effort new energy both in the North Caucasus and abroad (zapravakbr.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=133%3A2013-08-06-10-24-30&catid=5%3Aanalinic&Itemid=7).
Olympic Countdown Clock in Petersburg Vandalized Stops.  In what some see as symbolic, the Olympic countdown clock in the northern capital has been vandalized and is now stopped (2014.info/news/otschet-do-olimpiady-v-sochi-ostanovilsya/).
Nearly 2,000 Violations of Construction Rules Found in Sochi Transport System. Officials say they have identified 1850 violations of construction rules in the transportation system changes that have been made in Sochi in advance of the Olympiad (interfax.ru/realty/realtyinf.asp?id=325551&sec=1461).
IOC Aspirant ‘Heartened’ by Moscow’s Promises Not to Discriminate Against Homosexuals. Ng Ser Miang, who is one of six campaigning to become the next president of the IOC, says that he is “heartened” by Moscow’s pledgeon gay rights and that he is sure the Sochi games will be “wonderful” (globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130826/olympics-would-be-ioc-boss-heartened-sochi-gay-pledge).
Moscow’s Promise to Promote ‘Authentic’ Russian Culture in Sochi Quetioned.  A Moscow commentator says that the Russian government’s promises to showcase “authentic” Russian culture during the games is not entirely credible given the ways in which some organizers have promoted cheap and inauthentic goods there to make money (polit.ru/article/2013/08/27/eb270813/).
Russian Police to Use Horses for Security at Sochi. Because of the rough terrain, officials plan to use horses to maintain security and even deliver goods during the Sochi Olympics. To ensure that no one exploits this to bring in explosives or other contraband, the horses are being specially trained and fitted with microchips (kp.ru/daily/26119.2/3012556/).
Sochi Transport System Increasingly Overloaded.  Sochi residents say that it will be best not to try to use private cars during the games because of congestion but add that the public transportation system is already overloaded and  uncomfortable and likey to become more so as the games approach (blogsochi.ru/content/v-sochi-uzhe-seichas-govoryat-chto-vo-vremya-igr-luchshe-chastnym-transportom-ne-polzovatsya).
Tkachev Pressures Contractors to Speed Up Work and Complete Tasks. Saying there is no alternative to shock work, Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev says that companies must work extended shifts in order to complete construction before the middle of September. “You undertand very well that we have no other way out,” he tells them (blogsochi.ru/content/do-15-sentyabrya).
‘Sochi Isn’t a Host and Athletes Aren’t Guests,’ Slate Commentators Say. Marc Naimark and Charley Sullivan say that those who say no one should protest at Sochi are wrong to suggest that Sochi is “a host” and that the athletes are “guests” of Russia.  In fact, Russia competed for the “privilege” of holding the games for its own purposes, and athletes have no choice on the site (slate.com/blogs/outward/2013/08/26/at_the_sochi_olympics_and_russia_isn_t_a_host_and_the_athletes_aren_t_guests.html?fb_ref=sm_fb_share_chunky_bottom).
All Involved with Sochi Including TV Views Will Be Guilty of ‘One of Seven Deadly Sins.’ Edward Yaeger, a Baltimore writer, says that everyone who is  involved with Sochi, including those who watch the competition on television, will be guilty of one or another “deadly sin,” including “Wrath: draconian, anti-homophobia, bashing, tormented, beaten, atrocities; pride: pride, win, glory; avarice: greed, gold; sloth: antipathy, apathetic; lust: unyielding desire; envy: begrudge, invidious, heroism, vilification; and Gluttony: extremely and blindingly hungry (outsports.com/2013/8/25/4649008/seven-deadly-sins-sportsmanship-sochi-olympics).
Russian Scholar Says Moscow’s ‘Mistakes’ Opened the Way for Circassian Protests Against Sochi.  In a long article for MGIMO, V.M. Mukhanov says that Moscow’s failure to take the Circassian movement serioiusly and its “mistaken steps” when it finally did have created the conditions for the Circassias to attract “broad public attention both in Russia and abroad” to the demands of the Circassian people and their complaints about the holding of the games on the site of the deportation of their ancestors (mgimo.ru/files2/y08_2012/226157/Zak446_Ejeg12_9.pdf).
US Athletes Said ‘Being Coached Not to Say Anything that Might Upset Russia, Commentator Says. According to one writer on The Back Lot portal, “Apparently U.S. athletes are ‘being coached not to say anything that might upset Russia.’” If that is the case and if they end by defending Russia’s anti-LGBT policies, then, the writer says, “maybe they should be coached not to say anything … period” (thebacklot.com/u-s-figure-skater-jeremy-abbott-opens-mouth-inserts-skate/08/2013/). But some involved in the US team are speaking out, incuding Brian Burke, USA Hockey’s director of development, who says he believes and will say publicly in Sochi that Russia’s anti-gay laws are “repugnant” (www.philly.com/philly/sports/sbnation/SBNation_20130827_Sochi_2014__Brian_Burke_calls_Russia_s_anti-gay_law__repugnant_.html).
IOC Doing Moscow’s ‘Dirty Work’ No Surprise, Tablet Writer Says.  Rachel Shukert, a writer for the Jewish newspaper Tablet says the Russian are lucky that “they’ve got the IOC to do the dirty work for them,” something that should come as no surprise to those who allowed Hitler to host a games in 1936 and have refused “again and again” to allow any official commemoration of the Israeli athletes were were killed in Munich in 1972. But this time things could be different because this is the Winter Olympics and many of the competitors come from “the heart of Aryan Country,” people against whom the IOC is less likely to behave so badly. “The Israelis, yes. But some big gay (or gay-friendly) ubermensch from Norway, while the whole world watches? Not on your life” (tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/141951/tattler-gay-rights-olympics#undefined).
Bloomberg News Calls for ‘No Tolerance for Russia’s Anti-Gay Games.’ The editors of Bloomberg news say that there should be zero tolerance for Russia’s anti-LGBT laws at Sochi and that the IOC could make a difference if it were willing to.  “IOC pressure on South Korea’s military dictatorship helped bring about democratic elections before the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the IOC pressed China to drop its law requiring foreign journalists to get government permission before interviewing Chinese citizens. Now, the IOC should be telling Russia to revoke its anti-gay law in order to conform with the Olympic Charter and remain the host of the Winter Games. As the committee has so far shown no such inclination, sponsors of the Olympics and television networks that plan to cover the event ought to push. Otherwise, come February, they may find themselves in an embarrassing mess …
In any case, it’s not enough to carve out a discrimination-free zone for the Olympic village. The law should be revoked altogether” (bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-25/no-tolerance-for-russia-s-anti-gay-games.html).
Moscow Lobbies Pacific Islands to Get Support for Holding Competitions in Russia. Moscow has lobbied the small island nations of the Pacific, including providing them with large infusions of cash, to get their votes for holding international sports competitions in the Russian Federation, part of its strategy of using such competitions to boost its international standing (novayagazeta.ru/politics/59672.html).
Only Shampoo Now Featured in More Russian Ads than Sochi Is.  Russian advertisers say that during the first half of 2013, the Sochi games appeared in more media ads in the Russian Federation than any other product – except for shampoo (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19279-reklama-lsochi-2014r-ustupila-po-kolichestvu-tolko-marke-shampunja).
Sochi Increasingly the Object of Russian Jokes.  Russians are telling ever more jokes about the Sochi Games, Blogsochi.ru reports. It provides a selection of 20 of the most widespread. Among the best: “The Sochi Games are one of the ways the West has cleverly decided to bankrupt and destroy Russia” “Moscow has advertised a competition to have winter in Sochi” and “The Sochi Games are more expensive than all previous Olympiads for Russians both in a direct and indirect sense” (blogsochi.ru/content/davaite-posmeemsya-ponedelnik-den-tyazhelyi).
Sochi Organizers Seek Thousands of Temporary Workers for Games. The Sochi organizing committee is seeking thousands of temporary workers in cities and towns across the Russian Federation, even though there is evidence that it is not ready to house or otherwise take care of them if they come (kp.ru/online/news/1517043/).
Housing for Sochi Volunteers Not Yet Completed …  Facilities to house volunteers for the Sochi Games were supposed to be completed last March but they remain unfinished, Blogsochi.ru reports, suggesting that some believe this may be part of a clever Western strategy to prevent the competition from being held (blogsochi.ru/content/zhile-dlya-volonterov-i-obsluzhivayushchego-personala-olimpiady). Even a Sochi church in which the Krasnodar kray government has invested more than 17 million US dollars has not been completed on time, another example of the construction lags that Moscow officials routinely deny (blogsochi.ru/content/khram-nerukotvornogo-obraza-khrista-spasitelya).
… And Such Volunteers May Face More Problems.  Russian laws and regulations mean, Blogsochi.ru points out, that those who do volunteer for the Games may find that they will be assigned to different tasks than they agreed to perform and won’t be paid in a timely manner, if indeed at all. Moreover, if a new law now being considered in the Duma passes, they won’t even have the right to walk away from such positions (blogsochi.ru/content/volonterskoe-rabstvo).
FIFA Presses Moscow on Gay Rights.  FIFA President Sepp Blatter says his organization is seeking explanations from Moscow about what the anti-gay propaganda law might mean for his group’s competitors in 2018. ‘When you speak with the Russians, they don’t speak about discrimination, they speak about protection [of minors],” he says. “That is different. I said, ‘So please give me the evidence that you are protecting somebody and not discriminating.’ For the time being we have received only protests and demands from our football, sports or Olympics people. I have received nothing officially from the Russians,” said Blatter, who is also an International Olympic Committee member” (cbc.ca/sports/soccer/story/2013/08/25/sp-soccer-fifa-russia-2018-world-cup-nti-gay-law.html).
Snow Stockpiled for Sochi Not Melting.  The BBC reports that snow that Sochi organizers have stockpiled in case there isn’t enough next year for the competitions is “surviving the summer heat” (bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23831148).
Washington Post Columnist Calls for Protests at Sochi.  Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist for the Post, says that Martin Luther King, Jr., would expect athletes and others to protest Russian laws against LGBTs. “The Olympics have become a direct cause of human-rights abuses. In three of the last four venues selected by the IOC, we’ve had detention and torture of anti-Olympic protestors in Beijing; tear gas and rubber bullets for similar protestors in Rio; and forced evictions, labor exploitation and the threat of arrest for anyone who happens to be too visibly homosexual in Sochi,” she writes, even though “The IOC would have us think these are delicate moral matrices and none of its affair, and insists that athletes be apolitical” (northjersey.com/sports/220977431_Commentary__A_call_for_Olympic_protest.html).
Pussy Riot Actvist Calls for Sochi Boycott. Yekaterina Samutsevich, a participant in Russia’s Pussy Riot group, says that she supports a boycott of the Sochi Games but adds that “it is hard not to feel that it is a shame that the laws of this country means that it deserves to be boycotted” (huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/25/pussy-riot-russia-samutsevich-olympics-gay_n_3813227.html?utm_hp_ref=uk).
Moscow Analyst Says Terrorist Acts in Sochi ‘Improbable’ But Violence Nearby Likely.  Andrey Yepifantsev, a political scientist who heads the Alte et Certe group in Moscow, says that there is unlikely to be a terrorist act in Sochi itself during the Olympiad because of the presence of so many security officers but that violence nearby, including “large battles,” could happen and would have a large and negative impact on Russia’s image (svpressa.ru/politic/article/73049/).
Kosachev Says West ‘Disinformed’ about LGBTs in Russia.  Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian agency for the affairs of the CIS, compatriots abroad and international humanitarian cooperation, says that those in the West who support gay rights are “disinformed” about the real state of LGBTs in the Russian Federation (vz.ru/news/2013/8/24/647011.html).
Kremlin Said Using One Gay Activist Against Critics.  “Out” commentator Michael Lucas says that Nikolay Alekseyev, who had been an outspoken critic of the Russian government on LGBT issues, has changed his tune and is now attacking Western defenders of gay rights and other Russian gay activists who have criticized Russian law and practice and the Sochi Olympics.  “What is happening with the Olympics,” Alekseyev says, “it is making the topic absurd. In fact, there are none of the persecutions here that the Western media keeps talking about.” According to Lucas, Alekseyev for whatever reason has become “the Kremlin’s new pocket gay” (out.com/news-opinion/2013/08/28/nikolai-alexeyev-kremlin-new-pocket-gay#.Uh4ZbHGy4kE.twitter
Russian Gay Leader Says Sochi has Attracted Attention to Plight of LGBTs in Russia.  Nikolay Alekseyev, president of GayRussia.ru and the Moscow Pride Organizing Committee, says that international outcry about Russia’s anti-gay propaganda legislation has given his community “a unique possibility ..to have their voice heard. Despite the fact that there will be no official Pride House, unlike in Vancouver and London, and no authorized Gay Pride march during the forthcoming event in February, the Sochi Olympics have a chance to become the gayest ever in the history of the Olympic movement, and the bans on Pride House and the introduction of the gay propaganda laws has actually only helped.” The best way forward now, he continued, is for Western governments to impose entrance visa bans on Russian officials behind the anti-gay issue and to support quick action by the European Court for Human Rights on the law (http://rt.com/op-edge/russia-gay-rights-sochi-945/).
Gessen Says West Must Understand that the Kremlin, Not Russia, is the Problem. Masha Gessen, a Russian gay rights activist who has fled to the West, says that the Kremlin rather than the Russian people are the problem when it comes to LGBT rights and that the West must make Vladimir Putin the issue rather than taking steps that hurt Russians as a whole (golos-ameriki.ru/content/masha-gessen/1736162.html).
Online Petition Calls for US Team to Carry Gay Colors at Sochi Opening Ceremony. An online petition is gathering support for the US team to fly gay pride colors at the opening ceremony in Sochi (change.org/petitions/us-olympic-team-fly-the-colors-of-gay-pride-during-the-2014-olympics-opening-ceremony).
IOC President Pleased Russian Athlete Backed Away from Anti-Gay Comments.Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, said he was upset by Elena Isinbayeva’s comments against homosexuality but pleased that she later “clarified” her remarks (rusnovosti.ru/news/278488/).
Izvestiya Says ‘LGBTs of All Nations are Uniting Against Putin.’ In an article that may help or hurt the Russian president, Moscow’s Izvestiya argues that supporters of gay rights around the world are now uniting against Vladimir Putin for his policies (izvestia.ru/news/555934).
Star Wars Star Continues Sochi Boycott Campaign.  George Takei, an actor and gay activist, is continuing is campaign to have next year’s Olympiad shifted from Sochi to Vancouver  Hesas that “the Russians are taunting the IOC with the homophobic laws that they pass. They give license to the thugs and the hooligans — you know how they’ve been carrying on. This is the time for Russians to rethink. One of the senior members of the IOC, from Norway, has already spoken to the press saying that the Winter Olympics must be taken out of Sochi. He hasn’t backed the idea of moving it to Vancouver yet, but that’s the obvious venue that’s the most prepared. Adjustments will have to be made, and if it’s not in time for the Games and the will is there, you postpone it for a year.” If th Games are not moved, he says, “then the next phase of our efforts should be to disqualify Russian athletes from participation. They’ve breached the Olympic charter. The humiliation … they’d be holding it in Russia, and the Russian athletes can’t participate because of their egregious homophobic policies” (huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/23/george-takei-sochi-olympics-gay-rights-putin_n_3798777.html?utm_hp_ref=tw ).
Columnist Doubts ‘Twitter Generation’ Will Support a Boycott.  Unlike the1960s which were “angry times,” today’s “twitter generation” is unlikely to support a boycott or lead athletes to take any dramatic protest action at the competition itself, according to a columnist writing in the Washington Post (washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/column-the-twitter-generation-protesting-for-lgbt-rights-at-the-sochi-olympics-lol/2013/08/22/b1617c74-0b57-11e3-89fe-abb4a5067014_story.html).
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI OLYMPIAD HAS KEPT MOSCOW FROM ADDRESSING NORTH CAUCASUS PROBLEMS, ANALYST SAYS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI OLYMPIAD HAS KEPT MOSCOW FROM ADDRESSING NORTH CAUCASUS PROBLEMS, ANALYST SAYS

Paul Goble
            Staunton, August 26 – The run up to the Sochi Olympics, scheduled for next February, has kept Moscow from addressing the problems of the North Caucasus in a new way and thus contribute to a degradation of the political and security situation in the region, according to a Moscow analyst.
            Indeed, to a Russian parliamentarian, terrorist violence in the North Caucasus means that only Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan currently suffer more victims from it than do Russians, even though most of the Russian Federation is stable or at least more stable than it was a decade or more ago.
            But the drumbeat of violence in the North Caucasus and the apparent inability of President Vladimir Putin and his regime to deal with it in an effective way, other Russian writers say, is increasingly calling into question not only this broader stability but also the Putin regime as such.
            Citing Duma deputy Yuri Nagernyak’s observation that Russia now ranks just behind Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the number of victims of terrorist actions, Aleksey Polubota of “Svobodnaya pressa” then interviews four Moscow commentators on the meaning of this situation in terms of Putin’s much-vaunted “stability” (svpressa.ru/politic/article/73049/).
            Pavel Svyatenkov, an MGIMO professor and political activist, says that “the overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in Russia take place in the North Caucasus,” an “extremely unstable region” comparable to what is taking place in the Middle East but “somewhat different from what is taking place in the rest of Russia.”
            Indeed, he points out, that “if you take the statistics of victims of terrorist actions in Russia outside of the Caucasus, then the situation is much more stable on the remaining territory,” although there is evidence that terrorism is “being exported” to other regions, such as the Middle Volga.
            “The thesis about Putin’s stability is propaganda,” Svyatenkov says, but everything depends on comparisons. Putin’s era has been “more stable” in Russia than was Yeltsin’s, but “no ‘Putin stability’ can be compared with the level of security in the United States or Great Britain.”
            Lidiya Sychyova, chief editor of the Red Line television channel, takes a somewhat different view.  According to her, stability in Russia exists “only for Putin and his closest entourage.”  Everyone else lacks real stability and has lacked it since the end of communist times.
            Andrey Epifantsev, head of the Alte et Certe Analysis Bureau, says there is more stability now than in the 1990s but that such stability is not equivalent to well-being. Moreover, he argues, the terrorist actions that are occurring in the North Caucasus now are very different than those that took place in the earlier decade.
            In the 1990s, he says, terrorists advanced political demands like Chechen independence, but now they represent struggles among clans and other groups, struggles that Moscow finds it useful to describe as being the work of “radical Islamists.” That is just one of the reasons why the Russian government has lost authority and cannot impose order without changing itself.
            “Up to now,” Epifantsev continues, the federal center has used “two methods” in the North Caucasus: war and buying off the North Caucasus elites. The first failed, and the second is failing because it is allowing those elites to undermine Russian statehood and importantly to be seen to be doing so.
                If Moscow continues in this way, Russia “will sooner or later lose the Caucasus,” he says. To avoid that outcome, he calls for “the establishment of real democracy” there, something that both the Putin regime and the local elites currently in power fear.
            The current Russian president initially did act to get the country out of “the chaos” it found itself, Epifantsev says, but his failure to see that the situation has changed and that he needs to act differently now is undermining his accomplishment. “If you try simply to preserve what is, you will inevitably begin to deteriorate.”
            A major reason that Putin has not addressed these problems as he should is his decision to hold the Sochi  Olympics.  Epifantsev says that there is unlikely to be a terrorist incident at Sochi but if there are real battles “a hundred kilometers away, this will have a very negative impact on the image of Russia.”
            More seriously, the Sochi Olympiad has become an excuse for putting off any serious attempt to address the problems of the North Caucasus “already for two years.” No one wants to change course so rapidly that the situation might get worse, and the Kremlin is confident that the Games themselves will show that Russia is “recognized” as a great power by others
In this regard, Epifantsev concludes, the average Russian, “who does not understand anything in politics” will conclude that we are a world-class country” and thus will “vote for this [regime] even if he doesn’t himself have the money to attend the Sochi Games.”
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN — 24 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN — 24 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 26th special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowlege or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
Moscow Tells IOC Olympic Rules will be Followed But Russian Laws Will be Enforced.  In response to an International Olympic Committee requet for clarification as to the meaning of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who is overseeing the Sochi Games, set a letter saying that “the Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety” but that Russian laws prohibiting anti-gay propaganda, which he said “cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation” will be enforced.  IOCPesident Jacque Rogge said that this statement means that “everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation.” Others are less likely to be certain what Kozak’s statement actually means, and the controversy is certain to continue. This statement and Moscow’s shifting commentary in the past do not provide any clear answer as to how the Russian authorities will in fact act in Sochi  (twincities.com/sports/ci_23916064/sochi-olympics-russia-defends-anti-gay-law-letter and motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/sochi-olympics-putin-anti-gay-law-explained).
Russian Sports Minister Lumps Homosexuality with Drug Abuse.  In a comment that has sparked anger both in Russia and elsewhere, Russian Sports Minsiter Vitaly Mutko said that Moscow’s anti-gay legislation is all about protecting members of the younger generation “whose psyche has not been formed” and that the government “wants to protect them against the propaganda of drunkenness, drugs, and non-traditional sexual relations. When they grow up and become adults, they have to define what they want for themselves.” In other comments, he suggested that the entire issue had been creted whole cloth by the West (en.rsport.ru/other_sports/20130818/680884462.html  andnews.sky.com/story/1130071/russia-anti-gay-row-invented-by-western-media).
Russian Athlete Denounces Critics of Anti-Gay Law…  Yelena Isinbayeva, a Russian pole vaulter who is so popular that she has already been named mayor of Sochi’s Olympic Village, criticized Swedish competitors for painting their nails in rainbow colors to show support for LGBTs in Russia.  “We consider ourselves like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys … it comes from the history. “[The protests are] disrespectful to our country. It’s disrespectful to our citizens, because we are Russians…Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules. We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful” (newrepublic.com/article/114334/russian-olympics-boycott-wont-help-gays).
… Even as More Athletes and Others Protest. Nick Simmonds, an American competitor in the World Championships in Moscow, dedicated his silver medal in the 800 meters run to the LGBT cause. Two female athletes were seen kissing, although the meaning of this was subject to dispute as was Isinbayeva’s English and future plans. And some fans displayed gay flags. All of which provoked disputes both in Moscow and the West over who is responsible and who should be blamed (inotv.rt.com/2013-08-15/amerikanskij-atlet-brosil-vizov-rossijskimhttp://sport.mail.ru/news/athletics/14427091chronicle.pro/russia/olimpiada-v-sochi/isinbaeva-provotsiruet-bojkot-olimpiady.html and  odnako.org/blogs/show_27413/port.mail.ru/news/athletics/14427091/).
Kasparov Calls for Sponsors, Fans and World Leaders But Not Athletes to Boycott Sochi.  Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov says that Sochi should never have been awarded the games in the first place but that now the best way forward is for corporate sponsors, fans  and world leaders to boycott the competition even while allowing athletes to compete. “Do not come to Sochi to sit next to Putin in his stately pleasure dome, pretending it is a world apart from the police state he has created. Let the stadiums sit vacant, especially the VIP sections Putin hopes to fill with presidents and prime ministers,” he writes. “Giving dictators what they want in the hopes of getting on their good side always fails. It drags you down to their level and makes you an accomplice to their crimes. Putin seeks similar adulation in Sochi and he must not receive it. Let him fill the seats at his side with the oligarchs and flunkies he pays so well and not the leaders of the free world. Shun him and shame him for his bigotry and cruelty. Politicians must not be allowed to use the athletes as shields for their own cowardice. The world will be watching (thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/15/boycott-putin-not-the-sochi-olympics.html).
Old Believer Cemetery Protected in Sochi, but Mass Graves of Circassians Ignored. The New York Times has reported that an Old Believer cemetery where the members of a denomination with deep roots in Russian history are buried has remained undisturbed even though it is in the middle of Olympic construction. What that paper and most others have not talked about is that Russian construction companies have done nothing to protect or honor the mass graves of Circassians killed in 1864 during the expulsion that Circassians refer to as a genocide (nytimes.com/2013/08/20/sports/olympics/at-center-of-sochi-games-lies-a-cemetery.html).
Putin Orders Special Security Zone for Sochi.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order settin up a special security zone in and around Sochi before and during the Olympics. Under its terms, more siloviki will be sent to the region, access to the city will be limited especially to cars, and many streets will be blocked and with check points. Russian officials say they expect the system to work well because it has already been tested at several other international competitions in the country over the past year (gazeta.ru/social/2013/08/21/5600341.shtml). At another meeting, Putin called for particular attention to be devoted to controlling Russia’s state borders in the Caucasus (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2013/08/16/s_tochki_zreniya_ohrany_gosgranicy_osoboe_vnimanie_nuzhno_obratit_na_severnyj_kavkaz/). Other Russian officials said that the situation in Sochi with regard to security is well in hand (voiceofrussia.com/2013_08_16/Sochi-Olympics-security-We-have-very-serious-safety-concept-Sports-Minister-Mutko-6895/).
Russians Will Require Notorious Fan Passport for Sochi Visitors.  After announcing it and then denying it would be used, Russian Olympic officials now say, in the name of security, that they will require each fan to have a fan passport that will contain a range of personal information and will be checked by the FSB. Having a ticket will not be enough to gain access to venues, officials say; everyone will have to have a fan passport. They add that his special measure will help speed access as well as guaranteeing security (gazeta.ru/social/2013/08/21/5600341.shtml).
Environmental Activist Arrested after Reporting on Sochi. Natalya Kalinovskaya, a member of the Ecological Watch for the North Caucasus, has been arrested at an Abkhazian border crossing point after she reported on the environmental depradation of the Sochi region by Olympic contractors (blogsochi.ru/content/natalyu-kalinovskuyu-obyavili-v-federalnyi-rozysk).
Rosneft, Gazprom Destroying Environment in Sochi.  Two of Russia’s largest companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, are destroying natural habitats and leaving a mess behind, residents and environmental activists say. But Gazprom spokesmen say that the company is living by the rules and has nothing to apologize for (sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/gazprom-raspechatal-zapovednye-zemli-sochi.2013820.66943.html,  civitas.ru/news.php?code=14044vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19097-problemnyh-obektov-u-lgazpromar-na-olimpiade-net andblogsochi.ru/content/rosneft-plevala-na-sanitarno-zashchitnye-zony).
Russian LGBTs Say Moscow Has Given ‘Green Light’ to Bullying and Worse. Bullying and mistreatment of LGBT teenagers happens around the world, but Russian activists say, according to “The Moscow Times” that “the proble has been made worse in Russia” by the new law against “pro-gay ‘propaganda’ among minors.” They say this law “implicitly gives a green light to vigilantes for such activities” (themoscowtimes.com/news/article/anti-gay-vigilante-groups-face-backlash/484774.html).
Human Waste Flowing in Open Stream Past Putin Palace as Well as Through Sochi Neighborhoods.  Human waste is flowing into streams that pass by the residence Vladimir Putin will use during the games, creating a terrible smell and undermining “the image of Russia,” according to a Moscow paper. Meaning, Sochi residents who have been suffering with this problem for months now call it “the Olympic smell” and have published a map showing where it is especially bad (novayagazeta.ru/politics/59602.html and
Cartoonists Having Field Day with Olympic Protests. The last week has seen an explosion of political cartoons about the Sochi Games and especially protests against Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. Three of the most widely distributed show the Russian athlete who defended the law holding up a swastika-decorated metal (facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200462097101648&set=o.334208360005709&type=1), Putin facing falling dominoes that begin with the anti-gay law and end with a Sochi boycott (facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=618010194906576&set=gm.583517478357667&type=1&ttheater), and a picture of Putin welcoming people to the “GULAG Olympics” and standing in front of a jail cell saying to gays, “I Have much better closets for you in Russia” (facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151811900803676&set=a.445408063675.251057.621563675&type=1&theater).
World Championships in Moscow Suggest Most Problems in Sochi Will Be Off the Track.  Journalists covering the nine days of the World Athletic Championships in Moscow say that the competitions worked more or less well but that problems beyond the venue sites are a harbinger of problems at Sochi. Among the most serious are tensions about Russia’s anti-gay legislation, bad transportation, and poor signage (sports.nationalpost.com/2013/08/18/world-championships-in-russia-act-as-rough-draft-for-2014-sochi-olympics/).
Confrontation Seen Becoming Olympic Sport at Sochi.  The Russian government, the IOC, and major international sponsors, on the one hand, and LGBT and human rights activists, appear to be digging in their heels, setting the stage for confrontation in Sochi and leading to increasing speculation about just what forms that will take.  An AP commentator, for example, asks “Does the IOC or a National Olympic Committee, for example, step in and risk the embarrassment of sending an athlete home for a political gesture? Or stand by and say nothing while the local authorities bundle him or her onto the first flight? Do major sponsors like Coca-Cola, Visa, Dow, Omega and Panasonic threaten to pull out? Does NBC report aggressively on every incident? Take the under on those bets.” Jim Littke added that he sees little hope that the IOC will intervene on behalf of gays the way it did on behalf of women from Muslim countries in advance of the London Games (towleroad.com/2013/08/as-sochi-games-approach-confrontation-soon-to-be-newest-olympic-event.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+towleroad+%28Towleroad%29).
Russian Students Brought in to Do Construction in Sochi Return Home.  The latest group of Russian students have returned home after a summer of helping work on Sochi construction sites. Some 3,000 students have been involved in this project since 2007. Many of them have no construction skills and are used only for menial tasks (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19188-olimpijskie-pomoshhniki-pokidajut-sochi-chtoby-obnovljat-transsib).
Sochi Residents Increasingly Angry about Detours and Delays.  In the rush to complete Olympic venues and support facilities, Russian contractors have blocked streets for days at a time, destroying any possibility that local residents can move around as they normally do. The anger of the latter is increasing, and there have been several small protest demonstrations over the past week (blogsochi.ru/content/petlya-absurda and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/228847/).
Sochi Residents Cover Decaying House with Russian Flag.  To protest the failure of the city to repair their residence,a group of Sochi residents found an unusual use for the Russian flag. On flag day, they purchasd one large enough to cover their entire building, something that has attracted more attention to its decay than the unadorned apartment building had earlier (blogsochi.ru/content/den-gosudarstvennogo-flaga-rossiiskoi-federatsii).
Sochi Officials Plan to Cover Run-Down Buildings with Banners During Games. Rather than fix decaying buildings in the city, Sochi officials have announced plans to cover the worst of them with large Olympic-related banners to hid the problem from visitors.  But residents say that there could be so many such banners that this will have exactly the opposite effect (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/228732/).
Sochi Mayor’s Wife Twice Twice as Rich as Putin and Medvedev Together.  Anatoly Pakhomov had a declared income last year of 780,000 rubles (26,000 US dollars) but his wife took in 9.5 million rubles (300,000 US dollars), a pattern that is true in the families of many in the Russian elite and designed to hide the real state of affairs. Elena Pakhomov’s income is truly large, and many suspect it reflects the corruption of both her and her husband.  Perhaps as penance, she has founded a Russian Orthodox church in the city (blogsochi.ru/content/prikhod-po-statusu-polozhen and blogsochi.ru/content/elena-pakhomova-%E2%80%93-uchreditel-prikhoda-khrama-svyatogo-knyazya-vladimira).
Sochi Service Buildiings Up but Hardly Finished.  Many buildings that officials have declared finished in their reports to Moscow are indeed up, but they are hardly finished. A recent visit to one with shops and theaters found that it had no air conditioning and had a terrible smell that caused visitors to leave as soon as they could (blogsochi.ru/content/chto-sluchilos-s-tts-moremoll). Other more critical infrastructure is not close to being ready often because of the shortage of construction materials (blogsochi.ru/content/dubler-kurortnogo-prospekta-6-e-i-7-e-tonneli-za-175-dnei-do-olimpiady).
Russians Want Pоссия, Not Russia, on Olympic Unforms.  Reflecting  increasing nationalism among Russians, a group in Sochi is calling for the Russian Olympic Team to replace the Latin script name “Russia” with the Cyrillic “Pоссия” on all uniforms. Such a change, which would be unprecedented in international competitions, looks “better and more patriotic” according to activists (blogsochi.ru/content/rossiya-ne-rasha).
American Gay Reporter Criticizes Russian Law on Russia Today Before Being Cut Off.  Jamie Kichick, an American journalist who is gay, said on Russia Today television that he didn’t want to talk about the Bradley Manninng case butrather about Russia’ repressive laws concerning LGBT people. He said the Russian channel devotes 24 hours  day to “lying about the US and ignoring wha is taking place in Russia” and that he wants to show “Russian gays and lesbians that they have friends and allies across the world who support them.” After he made this statement, which has been circulating on Youtube, he was asked to leave the broadcast booth (vz.ru/news/2013/8/22/646649.htmlbuzzfeed.com/miriamelder/reporter-blasts-kremlin-channel-over-anti-gay-law and washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2013/08/21/no-love-for-russia-today-from-jamie-kirchick/).
Bubka Say Moscow Will Avoid Harassing Gays to Avoid Attracting Attention to Law.  Sergy Bubka, an Olympic pole vaul champion who is in the race to become IOC head, says that the IOC charter means that “we protect everyone,” that there are currently “quiet discussions” with the Russian government and that “the last thing [those] officials want is an incient during the Olympics that would draw attention to the law and thereby hurt Russia’s future Olympic interests” (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/news/20130816/bubka-ioc-president-ukrainian-olympics/).
Moscow Rents Five Cruise Ships to House Competitors, Visitors and Security Staff. Faced with a seirous hotel shortage – some hotels won’t be ready, and some firms have pulled out completely – Moscow has rented five cruise ships to house 40,000 competitors, visitors, and security staff during the Games. One of the ships belongs to the company which owned the ship that ran aground and sank off of Italy last year (sochi-24.ru/turizm/pyat-plavuchih-gostinic-prishvartuyutsya-v-sochi.2013821.67009.html andabcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/sochi-olympics-charter-ship-costa-company-19999028).
New York Activists Want Metropolitan Opera to Dedicate Gala to Gays.  Activists in New York are petitioning the Metropolitan Opera to dedicate its opening-night gala performan of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ to the support of gay people in Russia. They believe this is an especially important sign of support for Russian LGBTs because Tchaikovsky was himself homosexual (nytimes.com/2013/08/20/arts/music/petition-wants-met-gala-dedicated-to-gay-rights.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130820&_r=0).
Two NHL Stars Denounce Russian Anti-Gay Law.  Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, both of whom are lkely to take part in the Sochi Games have denounced Russia’s law banning gay propaganda to children as “awful, just awful” and “completely wrong” (advocate.com/sports/2013/08/19/nhl-stars-russian-anti-lgbt-law-awful-completely-wrong).
McDonalds, Coca-Cola Refuse to Drop Sochi Sponsorship Despite Protests. Both companies said that they support equality and that, in the words of one, “there’s no room for discrimination,” but they added that they support the IOC and will continue their sponsorship of the Olympiad. McDonalds in particular, however, has faced public protest about its position (carbonated.tv/news/sochi-olympic-sponsors-refuse-relocation andsouthfloridagaynews.com/articles/chicago-activists-protest-mcdonalds-sponsorship-of-the-sochi-olympics/128275).
Moscow Eases Investment Rules for North Caucasus. In yet another indication that the Russian Federation may be having trouble developing resorts in the North Caucasus, the Russian finance ministry has announced that it will no longer require collateral from those companies seeking to borrow money to develop facilities there (svpressa.ru/society/article/72648/ and www.rus-obr.ru/ru-web/25943).
US Olympic Committee Expects Athletes to ‘Respect Russian Law.’ Scott Blackmun, head of the US Olympic Committee, says he expects competitors at Sochi to obey Russian laws, even those they may not like.  He said his group was staying out of the controversy: “We’ll leave the diplomacy on the legal issues to the diplomats and we’re not going to get involved” (en.rsport.ru/interview/20130814/680937696.html).
Swedish Olympic Committee Warns Athletes Against Any Political Demonstrations. Citing the position of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Swedish Olympic Committee head Stefan Lindeberg says that his group will not tolerate any demonstrations of any kind at Sochi. His remarks came after two Swedish athletes wore rainbow-colored nail varnish at the World Championships in Moscow, an action that sparked Russian criticism (insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1015634-respect-the-rules-in-sochi-warns-swedish-olympic-committee-following-rainbow-nails-protest).
Moscow Writer Criticizes Obama for Failing to Remember Russian Gays Remain Closeted.  In an essay on Grani.ru, Vladimmir Abarinov says that US President Barack Obama was “tactless” in his comments about gays at the Sochi Olympics because neither he nor his aides seem to be aware that “among Russian Olympians, there are no OPENLY gay people: they avoid coming out because of homophobia” in their country (grani.ru/opinion/abarinov/m.218009.html).
Sochi Athletes Urged to Do What Jesse Owens Did in 1936. Commentators are saying that athletes from Western countries should go to Sochi and do what Jesse Owens did at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 about Hitler’s racist policies – win and thus highlight what’s wrong with Russian law and policy.  No one should run away from bullies, they say (sidelines.sportsblog.com/post/163408/sochi_olympics_boycott_no_the.html).
Sochi will have “No Chi,” Commentator Says. “In Chinese medicine, ‘chi’ is the term for the universal energy. Universal energy does not discriminate,” Christopher Harrison says. Putin’s anti-LGBT decree means that “there will be no chi in Sochi.” He calls on sponsors to pull out and force the IOC to move the games (huffingtonpost.com/christopher-harrison/no-chi-in-sochi-olympics_b_3764280.html).
Founder of You Can Play Urges Gay Athletes to Compete and Win in Sochi.  Patrick Burke, founder of You Can Play, calls on gay atheltes to go to Sochi and win. “The Russian Laws are based on the ideas that gay people are somehow weaker or wrong, or lesser. If you a win an Olympic gold medal and you are gay doesn’t that show exactly the opposite of that” (sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/hockey-boycott-sochi-olympics-protest-anti-gay-laws-151957206.html,  nhl.si.com/2013/08/19/top-line-patrick-burke-says-no-olympic-boycott-columbus-shock-more-links/ and freep.com/usatoday/article/2669083).
Human Rights Watch Warns that ‘Serious Violations’ Continue at Sochi.  Jane Buchanan, director of HRW Europe and Central Asia, says that despite promises by Russian officials and the IOC human rights violations including those of workers rights and media freedoms continue in Sochi (hrw.org/russias-olympian-abuses).
ADL Calls for US Athletes to Show Solidarity with Russian LGBTs at Sochi. Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, says that the United States should impose sanctions on Russia for its anti-gay laws but that US athletes should go to the games in order to show solidarity with Russian gays and to protest discrimination against sexual minorities (golos-ameriki.ru/content/adl/1731193.html).
Russian Media Pick Up on Western References to Hitler’s Olympics. Russian news outlets are picking up, sometimes without negative commentary, Western stories in which the Sochi Games are compared to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin and in which it is reported that Hitler promised the IOC at that time that he would not persecute Jews competing in that Olympiad (inotv.rt.com/2013-08-16/daily-mail-predlagaet-putinu-vzyat).
Some Russian Deputies Want to Make Anti-Gay Law Even More Stringent for Foreigners.  Dmitry Vyatkin, a Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia Party, says that the Russian legislature should impose even stronger punishments on foreigners who promote homosexuality than does current law (rus-obr.ru/ru-web/25941).
Sochi Games Recruiting Russians from Acrosss Russia.  Representatives of the Sochi Olympics organization are visiting cities across Russia in order to hire people to work at the games next winter (tltnews.net/2013/08/16/expedition-sochi-2014–a-job-for-you-is-coming-to-togliatti).
Krasnodar Governor Says Sochi Construction a Mess.  During an inspection trip, Aleksandr Tkachev described Sochi as a mess and called for “an uncompromising struggle” with those putting up illegal or poorly constructed buildings.  He said his soul “ached” for those who are suffering from the construction campaign, and he added that a quarter of all facilities are not yet finished.  Despite his words, Tkachev has routinely put a happy face on developments there in the past and has ignored petitions from Sochi residents (blogsochi.ru/content/sochi-po-mneniyu-aleksandra-tkacheva-zona-bespredelavesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19119-kraevaja-programma-olimpijskogo-stroitelstva-vypolnena-na-tri-chetverti and
Sochi Residents Call for Russian PM’s Resignation.  A group of Sochi residents of the KPRF held a small demonstration and circulated a petition calling for the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (blogsochi.ru/content/piket-leninskogo-komsomola-v-mikroraione-makarenko). Other Sochi residents say that Medvedev at least has got one thing right: he pointed out that because of construction, few people are visiting the Olympic city this summer (blogsochi.ru/content/mertvyi-sezon-0). After his recent visitor, however, Medvedev called for stepping up the pace of that construction (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19112-gosudarstvo-podderzhit-punktualnyh-i-otvetstvennyh-olimpijskih-stroitelej-).
Ever Fewer Russians Proud to Be Hosting Olympiad. Levada Center polls show that fewer Russians today are proud that their country is hosting the Sochi Games than were a year ago, 61 percent as compared to 68 percent, while the number not proud has risen from 24 percent to 29 percent (voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_16/Sochi-Olympics-pride-or-pragmatism-2622/?from=mnu). Moreover, some Russian commentators blame what they see as the increasing tendency of Russian liberal media to criticize the games for this trend (stoletie.ru/obschestvo/unylyj_liberalizm_884.htm).
Former Olympians Divided on What to Do about Sochi. Surveys of former Olympians and Olympic hopefuls in Canada and the United States find them divided on how athletes should respond to Russia’s anti-gay laws. Most oppose boycotts as ineffective or counterproductive, but nearly all say that athletes should speak out in defense of the common human values that the Games are supposed to promotethestar.com/sports/amateur/2013/08/16/sochi_canadian_olympians_weigh_in_on_russias_antigay_law.html  and ftw.usatoday.com/2013/08/winter-olympics-sochi-russia-anti-gay-laws-athletes-react/).
Moscow Plans to Pursue Hosting More Olympiads in the Future.  Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi organizing committee, says that Moscow wants to ensure that Sochi is a success because it plans to pursue hosting more Olympiads in the future (voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_16/Sochi-2014-Why-summer-resort-makes-perfect-Winter-Olympics-venue-3375/).
Western Analyst Says Boycotting Olympics Would Help Putin.  Alexander Kliment, a Russian analyst with the Eurasia Group, says that a boycott would not help gays in Russia but that “Putin, and most of Russia, relish this kind of reproach from Europe or the U.S., because they view it as confirmation of Russian ethical and spiritual fortitude in the face of decadent Western naggers. So the frame of reference is entirely different. This is not a human rights issue for Russia; this is a religious and cultural issue for Russia, just the way gay rights and gay marriage are cultural and religious issues for the right in the U.S.” (newrepublic.com/article/114334/russian-olympics-boycott-wont-help-gays).
Moscow Blogger Urges Russian Gays to Speak Out.  Viktor Myasnikov says that Russian gays should speak out in advance of Sochi and show that they are not subject to discrimination. That may be harder for some in the provinces, but those in the major cities have been able to function quite well, he says (ng.ru/blogs/myasnikov/pochemu-molchit-federatsiya-lgbtsporta-rossii.php).
Denmark Warns Russia over Anti-Gay Law.  Denmark’s foreing minister, Villy Sovndal, said that Copenhagen will raise the issue of Moscow’s anti-gay propaganda law at the Council of Europe and the United Nations unless Russia reverses itself.  Prince Frederik, the country’s crown prince, added that Russia is violating the Olympic Charter by passing such laws (pinknews.co.uk/2013/08/15/danish-government-warns-russia-over-anti-gay-law/).
American Who Promoted Russia’s Anti-Gay Movement Faces US Federal Charges. A Massachusetts federal district judge as ruled that Scott Lively, an American who has promoted anti-gay laws around the world, must face charges of crimes against humanity for his role in Uganda’s campaign against gay people. Lively visited Russia in 2007 to promote anti-gay laws and activism there (gaystarnews.com/article/historic-ruling-judge-orders-anti-gay-scott-lively-stand-trial-crimes-against-humanity150813).
Foreigners Can Continue to Buy Olympic Tickets But Russians Have to Wait. Russians will not be able to purchase Olympic tickets until the fall although foreigners can continue to do so, another Russian government-imposed distinction that is unlikely to make many Russians happy. But the costs of many tickets are so high that they are likely beyond the reach of most residents of the Russian Federation (rbth.ru/arts/sport/2013/08/21/sochi_olympics_the_price_of_admission_29073.html).
Sochi Participants Should Turn Games into ‘Rainbow Olympics.’ An increasing number of commentators are urging athletes and fans to wear rainbow symbols. The following comment is typical: “The Sochi Olympics have become a gift-wrapped two weeks for those of us who support basic fairness for the gay and lesbian community, athletes or otherwise. Russia, and Russians, can love their nasty little laws all they want. The rest of us can see it for what it is — dangerous hatred directed at an identifiable group — and use these Olympics to promote understanding and peace. And isn’t that supposed to be a major part of the Olympic mission? These, from now on, should be the Rainbow Olympics. Imagine everywhere you turn next February seeing rainbow art, badges, pins and every imaginable representation of the international image for the gay/lesbian community. Not a word would have to be spoken and the message will ring loud and clear. Nobody can stop you from wearing rainbow art. The opening ceremonies will be a perfect place to start. Rainbow images everywhere. Russia has invited this upon itself. The rest of the world should take advantage”(thestar.com/sports/leafs/2013/08/21/can_phil_kessel_step_out_from_shadows_sochi_games_should_be_rainbow_olympics_cox.html).
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Anti-Putin Sochi Poster

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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN — 25 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN — 25 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 25th special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowlege or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
Senior IOC Member Says Moscow Will Lose Games If It Doesn’t Live Up to Olympic Charter. If the Russian authorities refuse to meet their commitments to the provisions of the Olympic Charter including a ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Gerhard Heiberg of the IOC says, then Moscow could see the games moved or postponed. “We cannot start giving in,” he says. “Either they accept or maybe we go somerwhere else if worse come to worse” (usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/08/11/sochi-winter-games-entertainment-industry-outcry-russia-anti-gay-legislation/2639939/). C.M Wu, another IOC leader says that Moscow knows “we are not joking” about those possibilities (espn.go.com/olympics/story/_/id/9560897/executive-ck-wu-says-ioc-unhappy-russian-anti-gay-law).
IOC Chief Says Moscow Must Clarify Its Law. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, says his group has been reassured by Moscow’s promises but “We are waiting for the clarifications before having the final judgment on these reassurances … The Olympic Charter is clear.”A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation.”As far as the freedom of expression is concerned, of course, this is something that is important.But we cannot make a comment on the law until the clarifications have been received.” He added that it seems to be a problem of translation and that “we don’t think it is a fundamental issue” (huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/09/sochi-olympics-russia-law-gay_n_3730965.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay+Voices  andinsidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1015466-rogge-seeks-clarification-over-russian-anti-gay-law-but-does-not-think-will-overshadow-sochi-2014).
Russia’s Anti-Gay Law ‘Ambiguous for a Reason.’  Russia’s anti-gay propaganda is “ambiguous for a reason:” It allows officials and individual Russians to interpret it according to their own lights, according to a Western legal analysis.  That same analysis points out that the Russian government itself earlier opposed such legislation because of this vagueness but its opposition in 2004 and 2006 “came at a time when the Kremlin cared about Russia’s international reputation. Now it appears to care only about nontraditional sex” (policymic.com/articles/58649/russia-s-anti-gay-law-spelled-out-in-plain-english).
Russian Foreign Ministry Dismisses Criticism of Anti-Gay Law.  Konstantin Dolgov, the special ambassador for human rights, says that criticism of Russia’s legislation “is absolutely invalid and groundless” because it acts as if a measure designed to protect children is in fact a measure to oppress members of sexual minorities. “We are fulfilling our obligations, but our critics attempt to accuse us of violating some obligations that don’t exist” (russialist.org/moscow-dismisses-western-criticism-of-gay-propaganda-law/#.UgPuLkDA9tI.twitter ).
Russian Interior Ministry Says Law Will Be Enforced but Sochi Visitors Who Don’t Demonstrate Won’t Have Problems.  The MVD says that the Russian law that bans “homosexual propaganda” to young people will be enforced in Sochi just as it is everywhere in Russia but that those competitors and fans who may be LGBT but who do not engage in political demonstrations of that will not be subject to any legal actions (http://mvd.ru/news/item/1149087/). Aleksandr Zhukov, head of Russia’s National Olympic Committee, expands on this: “If a person doesn’t try to impose his or her views in presence of children, sanctions can’t be taken against this person. Gay people can take part freely in the competitions and other Olympic events and don’t worry for their safety” (voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_12/Russian-Olympic-Committee-not-to-allow-discrimination-at-Sochi-Olympics-7076/).
Moscow’s Promise Not to Enforce Anti-Gay Propaganda Law at Sochi Unfair, Dangerous.  Aleksey Naryshkin, an Ekho Moskvy journalist, says that promises by officials not to enforce a Russian law prohibiting gas propaganda to young people are dangerous because they smack of selective prosecution and raise questions why a law under which Russian citizens have to live won’t be applied to foreigners (echo.msk.ru/programs/oblozhka-1/1135404-echo/).
Moving Olympics Would Be Difficult But Not Impossible. Officials in Salt Lake City and Vancouver say that moving the Olympics to their cities would not be impossible but it would be very difficult. Meanwhile, some analysts are talking about shifting them to South Korea which has continued to build venues even after it was passed over by the IOC (sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56702941-78/games-lake-salt-host.html.csp,news1130.com/2013/08/08/moving-sochi-olympics-to-vancouver-impractical-councillor/,
Russian TV Official Says Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Don’t Go Far Enough.  Dmitry Kisilyev, deputy director general of Russian State Television and Radio, says that “just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life” (huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/12/dmitri-kusilev-degrades-lgbt-tv_n_3743414.html).
Will CIS Countries Follow Russia on Anti-Gay Front?  This week, the Armenian interior ministry posted draft legislation that would impose the same penalties on “gay propaganda” that the Russian law does, but after protests, Yerevan officials took the post offline (amnestyusa.org/europe/six-months-to-sochi-when-will-russias-homophoic-policies-stop/).
US, UK, Canadian Leaders Reject a Boycott.  The US president and the prime ministers of Great Britain and Canada reject calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games. German officials agree, and French officials say it is too soon to make a final determination (washingtonblade.com/2013/08/09/obama-opposes-olympics-boycott/
Russians Asked Why US and UK Won’t Boycott Sochi Games.  The Odnako.org site has asked its visitors to specify why the leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom won’t boycott the Sochi Olympiad. Is this “a sign of good sense and an unwillingness to remain outside global sports,” “a sign that Western leaders recognize that pressure on Russia won’t work,” “a sign of weakness and the absence of unity in the Western elites,” or “a sign of secret homophobia”? (odnako.org/).
Athletes Should Go to Sochi But Political Leaders Should Not, German Analyst Says. Alexander Rahr, a leading German foreign policy specialist, says that LGBT athletes should compete at Sochi but that Russia’s anti-gay laws and practices should keep political leaders from attending (vedomosti.ru/politics/news/15058021/sochi-ne-dlya-vseh).
NBC Promises Its Gay and Lesbian Employees They’ll Be Safe in Sochi.  NBC, which is covering the game, has set a memorandum to its employees saying that the company is opposed to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda and that the company “will do everything possible to protect the rights, safety and well-being of our employees” (morningjournal.com/articles/2013/08/09/entertainment/doc52055a87c86aa049762690.txt).
NBC Says Advertisers Not Pulling Out.  The network that expects to make 800 million US dollars for covering the Sochi Games says that advertisers are not pullin gout and that many of them are treating the controversy over Russia’s anti-gay laws as “no different than the outcry over China’s human rights record during the 2008  Summer Olympics in Beijing” (buzzfeed.com/peterlauria/nbc-says-advertisers-committed-to-olympics-no-slowdown-in-de).
Sochi Competitors Should Hold Hands Regardless of Their Sexual Orientation.  To show support for Russia’s LGBT community and opposition to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, competitors at the Games should hold hands, something that could become an iconic image and help the LGBTs of Russia to secure their rights (www.insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1015543-gay-groups-launch-same-sex-handholding-campaign-for-sochi-2014).
Hockey Should Take the Lead in Sochi in Demonstrating Against Anti-Gay Laws. Andrei Markovits, a professor at the University of Michigan, says the world cannot remain silent about “the viciously homophobic legislation and policies pursued by the Putin government and, alas, its consideratable support among important institutions such as the Russian Orthodox Church as well as in public opinion.”  To counter that, he says, the most important hockey powers, most of whose players are in the NHL, should take the lead in demonstrating against Moscow’s anti-gay policies (huffingtonpost.com/andrei-markovits/hockey-needs-to-be-the-ce_1_b_3744527.html).
Sochi Games Working Against Russia and Putin, ‘Novaya’ Commentator Says. Andrey Kolesnikov writes in Moscow’s “Novaya gazeta” that the Sochi Games which were supposed to give a boost to Russia’s fortunes and those of its president are in fact having just the opposite effect (novayagazeta.ru/columns/59450.html).
Two Earthquakes Hit Sochi Region. Earthquakes measuring 3.5 and 3.3 on the Richter Scale hit just outside of Sochi, shaking buildings but leaving no casualties and doing no observable damage (blogsochi.ru/content/zemletryasenie-v-tsentre-goroda-sochi).
Rights Activists Call on Proctor & Gamble to Withdraw as Sochi Sponsor.  Rights activists in Ohio are circulating an online petition (ow.ly/nVtIu) calling on the Cincinnati-based company to withdraw it sponsorship of the Olympiad and end all its advertising in Russia. P&G is thought to be the largest Western advertiser in the Russian Federation at the present time (wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/ohio-equal-rights-group-asks-procter–gamble-pg-to-pull-sponsorship-of-2014-sochi-olympics).
Coca-Cola, Pressed on Its Sponsorship of Sochi Games, Defends Gay Rights. Facing calls to withdraw its sponsorship of the Sochi Olympiad because of Moscow’s anti-gay propaganda law, the Coca-Cola company issues a statement saying that “As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity.  We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world. As a sponsor since 1928, we believe the Olympic Games are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports, and we have seen firsthand the positive impact and long-lasting legacy they leave on every community that has been a host.
We support the ideals of the Olympics and are proud to continue our role in helping to make the Olympics a memorable experience for athletes, fans and communities all around the world” (sportsfeatures.com/olympicsnews/story/50560/top-sponsor-soft-drink-conglomerate-coca-cola-weights-in-on-lgbt-issue-for-sochi-2014).
Calls to Boycott Olympiads Nothing New, But Human Rights Concerns as a Reason Are.  For most of the modern era, someone has wanted to boycott a particular Olympiad, but as GlobalPost.com points out, “there has rarely been talk of boycotting the Olympic Games over human rights issues,” even when the competitions were in places like Nazi Germany or China which violated human rights (globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/130813/sochi-games-gay-rights-boycott-calls-unique-olympic-histo). A Human Rights Watch official noted that “It’s fair to say that Russia is going to give the Beijing Olympics a run for the money on human rights abuses, particularly the crackdown on the LGBT community and civil society,” Worden said in a phone interview.This will be the first homophobic Olympics, certainly. That’s without precedent” (cbc.ca/sports/olympics/story/2013/08/11/sochi-olympics-ioc-reform.html).
US Senator Calls for All Competitors at Sochi to March Under Gay Flag.  Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that Vladimir Putin is “a schoolyard bully” and that when athletes march into the Sochi Olympiad, “all the countries should wave the multicolored flag for gay rights.  That would be pretty embarrassing for Putin let our athletes participate and still take a stand” (advocate.com/politics/2013/08/13/us-senator-urges-countries-hold-rainbow-flags-sochi-olympics).
NY Times Condemns Anti-Gay Violence in Russia. “Despite the breathtaking wealth and vibrant culture in the metropolises of Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia remains a country where discrimination and even violence against gay people are widely tolerated,” the American newspaper of record says. “Few gay people in Russia openly acknowledge their sexual orientation, and those who do are often harassed. When some gay people protested the propaganda law by kissing outside the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, police officers stood by and watched as the demonstrators were doused with water and beaten by anti-gay and religious supporters of the bill. An overwhelming 88% of Russians support the gay-propaganda ban, according to a survey conducted in June by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center” (nytimes.com/2013/08/12/world/europe/gays-in-russia-find-no-haven-despite-support-from-the-west.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).
Washington Post Says Russia as Hostile to Gays as Arab Countries. In an editorial, the Washington Post says that “in the contest for the most medieval level of intolerance, the Russian Federation is giving Saudi Arabia a run for its money. While Russia and the Soviet Union before it have generally been hostile to gay people, the recent intensity of Mr. Putin’s war is part and parcel of his lapse into xenophobia, religious chauvinism and general intolerance as the urban middle class increasingly questions the legitimacy of his authoritarian rule” (washingtonpost.com/opinions/russias-war-on-gays/2013/08/08/41721722-0065-11e3-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html).
FIFA asks Moscow for Clarification on Anti-Gay Law…  The international football association, whose teams are scheduled to compete in Russia for the 2018 World Cup has formally asked the Russian government for “clarification and more details” about the anti-gay propaganda law, an indication that this issue is not going to go away even after February 2014 (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/news/20130813/russia-2018-world-cup-anti-gay-law.ap/).
… But Russian Official Says Gays like Nazis Must Not Be Allowed to Demonstate. Aleksey Sorokin, Russia’s World Cup chief, says that international athletic competition are “not a stage for various views, not for the Nazis andnot for any other ways of life. Would you like a World Cup were naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious” (worldfootballinsider.com/Story.aspx?id=36065
Sochi Gay Group  Named Grand Marshal of California Pride Parade.  Organizers of the Great Palm Springs Pride organization have named Sochi Pride 2014 the grand marshal o its 27th annual Pride Parade “to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia and raise awareness of the increasing anti-gay atmosphere of discrimination and harassment of the LGBT community in the Russian Federation” and to put pressure on Moscow to repeal the law before the Sochi Games (sdgln.com/news/2013/08/12/sochi-pride-2014-named-grand-marshal-palm-springs-pride).
Obama Says a Russian Team Without Gays or Lesbians Likely to Be ‘Weaker.’  US President Obama says that “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kinds of attitudes that we’re seeing here. “If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker” (usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/08/11/sochi-winter-games-entertainment-industry-outcry-russia-anti-gay-legislation/2639939/).
Many Upset with Obama Administration’s Failure to Take Tougher Stand on Sochi. Barb Hamp Weicksel writes on the SDGLN.com portal that she’s “like the USA to make some sort of statement about human rights and dignity and respect for all people – everywhere” because at Sochi “It’s not only the gay and lesbian athletes who could be in danger – it’s anyone who supports them by voice or the wearing of Pride pins or rainbow flags or perhaps even just touching them or hugging them. Did Hitler’s Germany mean nothing? Have we learned nothing from the Olympics that were hosted by the Nazis? The questions need to be asked:If it were blacks or Christians being targeted and beaten and killed, would the USA and Britain and all the other countries be a little more outraged? Would our President then believe it “appropriate” to boycott? I don’t know. I’m asking.But, if we didn’t go – and we didn’t give them any money – that would most certainly hurt them and Putin’s ego, which is larger than Russia itself” (sdgln.com/commentary/2013/08/13/commentary-sochi-olympics-and-high-price-participating).
London Theater to Feature Play on Sochi to Highlight Opposition to Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws. A theater in the British capital has commissioined Tess Berry-Hart to write a protest play called “Sochi 2014” for the King’s Head theater in Islington to help mobilize further opposition to Russian laws and actions against LGBTs in the run up to the Sochi Olympics (insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1015542-london-theatre-to-stage-play-in-protest-at-anti-gay-laws-in-russia).
IOC Should Ban Russia from Competing at Sochi, Commentator Says.  Athletes representing countries which do not have laws like Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda” measure should be allowed to take part in the Sochi Games, Cyd Zeigler says, but the IOS should consider making “a real statement” by banning Russian athletes from taking competing there (huffingtonpost.com/cyd-zeigler/dont-boycott-ban-russia-from-their-own-winter-olympics_b_3720026.html).
Nuclear Waste Near Sochi May Constitute a Health Hazard.  Nuclear waste sites near Sochi left over from Soviet times may pose health risks to competitors and visitors, experts say (kavpolit.com/yadernaya-tajna-kavminvod/).
Lukin Says Calls for Sochi Boycott, Comparisons with Nazi Germany Anger Him. Vladimir Lukin, Russia’s human rights ombudsman, says that he is surprised and angered by calls to boycott Sochi especially because of the comparisons some are drawing between Russia today and Nazi Germany. Russian Jewish leaders echo that position (rus.ruvr.ru/2013_08_12/Olimpiada-jeto-sport-Prichem-tut-gei-2800/).
Swedish Gay Activist Demands World Not Ignore LGBT Demands as It Did in 1936. Gays in Europe and the West called on the world to boycott the 1936 Berlin Games because of Hitler’s anti-homosexual policies, but “the hetero majority in Europe ignored” those demand, Alexander Bard says.  “Let us not repeat this error iin 2014 and not offer to yet another dictator another glamorous platform for promoting the ideology of hatred” (colta.ru/docs/29230).
1936 Experience Not Encouraging, US Commentator Says. Joe Quigley, a Cape Cod-based writer, notes that the way in which the debate about a possible boycott of the 1936 Berlin games took place is not encouraging. He cites the US Holocaust Museum to the effect that “The debate over whether the United States should boycott the games pitted Avery Brundage, who was president of the United States Olympic Committee, against boycott spokesman Jeremiah Mahoney. Some evidence recently has been uncovered by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles that Brundage was anything but unbiased on this issue: his company had been offered contracts by the German government to build embassies and consulates in the United States.
No such information ever came to light in the public debate, which ran along these lines: Opponents of the boycott said ‘If we cancel, we would not give the athletes an opportunity to compete and would look as if the United States were backing out of a commitment.’ Those favoring the boycott said that Hitler’s racist and anti-Semitic policies were diametrically opposed to the Olympic spirit. To go would hand Hitler a propaganda victory by conferring upon him the tacit approval of the rest of the world.” “Now as then,” Quigley continues, “it is about money. NBC has sponsors paying them big bucks for air time. These are the major sponsors. If the United States as a country chooses not to boycott the Olympics or work to move them elsewhere, perhaps those who feel something should be done can avoid products by these companies as much as possible” (capecodtoday.com/blogs/quigley/2013/08/13/21130-sochi-1936-oops-i-mean-2014).
Moscow Calls for Expedited Prosecutions of Those Who Misuse Olympic Brand. Those who produce items with the Olympic seal but without the approval of the Russian Olympic Committee should be prosecuted as quickly as possible, the Federal nti-Monopoly Service Says (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/18944-s-rasprostraniteljami-lolimpijskogor-kontrafakta-budut-razbiratsja-za-1-den).
California Politicians Urge State’s Pension Fund to Disinvest in Russia. Because of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law and in order to put pressure on Moscow to overturn that measure before the Sochi Olympiad, two senators in the California state legislature have urged the state’s pension fund to pull out of Russia its 1.4 billion US dollars in investments there (actualcomment.ru/theme/2755 and reuters.com/article/2013/08/13/us-usa-vodka-boycott-idUSBRE97C01P20130813).
Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Overshadowing Other Reasons for Boycotting Sochi, US Academic Says.  Walt Richmond, an American specialist on the North Caucasus, says that the entirely legitimate concerns of many about Russia’s horrific anti-gay laws and practices should not lead people to ignore other reasons for boycotting the games and that focusing only on how athletes and fans will be treated should not lead anyone to ignore how Russians will be treated under this and other laws (walterrichmond.net/2013/08/comments-on-olympics-issue.html).
Berlin Worried Chechens in Germany May Be Planning Terrorist Attacks for Sochi. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herman says that German security services are concerned that some of the Chechens now living in Germany may be involved in plotting a terrorist attack against Sochi at the time of the Olympics (gazeta.ru/politics/news/2013/08/10/n_3101797.shtml).
Demonstrations Against Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Around the World. Protest meetings in the US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Israel and elsewhere took place over the weekend with many carrying signs equating Putin with Hitler and demanding a boycott of the Sochi Olympics (huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/10/russia-gay-protest-london-_n_3736776.html,
Railway Construction near Sochi Destroying Forests.  Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus says that firms building railways leading to Sochi are destroying environmentally sensitive forests by their thoughtless cutting down of enormous numbers of trees (chaskor.ru/article/vse_posypetsya_33120).
Russian Missile Factory Making Olympic Torches.  A factory which normally produces ballistic missiles for the Russian government is manufacturing the 14,000 torches which will carry the Olympic flame across Russia. Some have noticed that they are shaped like the letter “R” as shown on Russian vodka etiquettes (tv.ibtimes.com/14000-olympic-torches-be-made-ahead-2014-winter-games-13239).
Human Waste Again Flowing Into Sochi Rivers.  Badly constructed sewage lines mean that human wastes are again flowing into open waters in Sochi, generating a bad smell and threatening the health of those who live nearby (blogsochi.ru/content/fekalnye-reki-v-raione-staroi-matsesty and  blogsochi.ru/content/sbros-kanalizatsionnykh-stokov-v-reku-sochi-vozobnovlen).
Not Having a Sochi Development Plan is a Plan, Critic Says.  For most of its history, Sochi developed according to a plan, but with the push to develop venues for the Olympics, Sergey Kolko says, there is no unified plan, although he concedes that the absence of a plan is a plan of its own kind (echo.msk.ru/blog/skolko/1135268-echo/).
Russian TV Official Says Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Don’t Go Far Enough.  Dmitry Kisilyev, deputy director general of Russian State Television and Radio, says that “just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life” (huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/12/dmitri-kusilev-degrades-lgbt-tv_n_3743414.html).
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