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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.html, kp.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).