EDITORIAL: Annals of the Sochi Fiasco


EDITORIAL

Annals of the Sochi Fiasco

Just as the Kremlin told Russians they’d do great at the Vancouver Olympiad and turned out to be lying shamelessly, the Kremlin’s claims about being able to conduct a successful Olympiad four years from now in Sochi (a beach resort!) are equally dishonest.  You can see the failure coming just by walking into a Russian souvenir shop.

Sports Illustrated reporter Luke Winn, for instance, visted the Vancouver Olympic Village souvenir shop operated by “Bosco Sport, the Russian company that’s making all the gear for the Sochi 2014 Games.”  The photo above shows three items from the store’s shelves.  Winn calls the shop’s offerings ” the most heinous collection of merchandise I’ve ever seen at a sporting event.”  Ouch.

The red jacket on the right costs an astounding $1,199.

Not only is the merchadise of abhorrent quality, embarrassingly ugly and revoltingly overpriced, it’s also not even made in Russia but rather in China, for a perfect triple threat of utter Russian failure.  Winn relates that the only people who are buying the stuff are wealthy Russians, who apparently have no taste at all.  He quotes the Australian shopgirl (that’s right, the shop is not even staffed by Russians):  “[Russians] are coming in and spending, like, thousands on this stuff.”

Winn mercilessly mocks the Russian effort to create cool merchandise, which fails as dismally as the Russian athletes on the playing fields in Vancouver.  It’s entirely predictable, when the country languishes in a neo-Stalinist dictatorship where criticism and introspection are banned and an “emperor’s new clothes” environment pervades.  Nobody will tell the Almighty Ruler that he is going astray, so he goes further astray, and when when he is predictably humiliated he simply has people killed.

The trainwreck that is Sochi 2014 must be stopped now. The risk to Russia’s reputation and the safety of the athletes is far too great, to say nothing of the expense that Russia simply cannot afford. We call up on the IOC to retract the Russian games are hold them in a more suitable country, before it is too late for all concerned.

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103 responses to “EDITORIAL: Annals of the Sochi Fiasco

  1. I’ll go on a limb here and predict that Sochi Olimpics won’t happen. It’s not a wishful thinking – it’s the result of some analysis. The money that was allocated to venue construction has been successfully plundered; and there is no new capital in sight. Nobody is interested in investing their own money into this venture, since one needs to be both rich and crazy to expect any return on such investment; and such combination (rich and crazy) is quite unusual in the world; let alone Russia.

    Five years ago some oligarch (Deripaska or Usmanov) could do that as a favor for a friend Godfather Putin; but now Putin’s friends are usually the ones whose friendship he buys.

    In short, I don’t envision how Russia can get from zero to Olympics in four years… And that isn’t taking into account 2012 elections; war in the Caucasus, or a minor natural disaster that wipes out a port and can mudslide a road.

    Note, that the only time I predicted anything was that Russia will not attack Georgia in 2009… I was right then, and would bet one being right now as well.

    • No Felix, I disagree. I predict they will put on a show regardless of cost. They feel they have to prove something to maintain their enormous collective ego, and for this money is no object. They will have pensioners starve to death and schools close if that’s what it takes, but the show will happen

      • Look, we have four years to make the bets. And if I am wrong – I’ll admit it (although if there is a rink for hockey and ice skating plus maybe half-dozen skiing – that won’t count… Vancouver had over 80 competitions; I submit that Sochi won’t have more than 20).

        RV, you say “they will put on a show”; “They feel they have to prove”; “They will have pensioners starve” – to which I say that there is no they any more!

        Walk me through the process that starts from “Putin wants Olympics in Sochi in 2014″ and ends with “Olympics happen in Sochi in 2014″. Note that construction hasn’t started yet; the cargo port was already washed away by a small storm, and money was washed away by a large loot.

        And, if against all odds, you can come with some miraculous way – Nature will throw a small disaster (mudslide, fire, murder of construction boss, terror act) to go back to ground zero.

        In short, ain’t gonna happen!

        • When I say “they,” I mean the Russian government. We’ll see who is right about that. Right now neither of us knows. But totalitarian governments have one advantage — they have ways of forcing others to make big projects happen.

          Even it looks in disarray now, as you describe, Putin will send 10 million peasants and convicts with shovels, and will make them work 24 hours a day. Even if he has to completely bankrupt the country, he will do it. Prestige is what keeps him in power.

          So, I am not so optimistic that the Sochi games will be canceled. We’ll see.

    • Felix! Welcome back! We have missed you!

      • LR,

        Thank you – you are very kind. Somebody needs to bring food on the table as well :) I kept reading this blog all the time – but for most part it ain’t worth engaging in fruitless polemic.

        I can’t right as well as Latynina and Piontkovsky; I can’t even translate as well as Dave Essel – and anything less just not worth the trouble.

        Not to mention, that after last year events in Honduras and Iran, I am not too proud for my government, either.

        But this topic struck a cord. I just can’t imagine that miracle happens in Sochi, and what was a barren field in the last 2-3 years suddenly becomes a bustling construction site! Ask Cui Bono? And if the answer is nobody – nothing will happen

  2. Cheburashka? Aw, come on, guys! He’s not some kind of official mascot, is he? That’s just wrong. He belongs to the kids, not to Putin. We would never whore out Kermit the Frog for a stateside Olympiad. Now for sure, Russian dignity has really taken a bad TUMBLE.

  3. Well, Russia’s fortune was not doing too well before, but this news is devastating: this Luke Winn guy doesn’t like the 3 souvenirs and is not going to buy them. Ouch! That must hurt Sochi. I mean, they were counting on this Luke Winn fellow to buy at least one souvenir from Bosco Sport to keep them solvent. Ouch!

    Now that Luke Winn has refused to buy, the trainwreck that is Sochi 2014 must be stopped now!

  4. Luke Winn has even more fashion-based compelling reasons to deny Olympics to Russia. He points out the great superior Western taste in Olympic clothing:

    http://winterolympics.si.com/2010/02/28/the-best-in-olympic-headgear/

  5. There is a long tradition of tasteless souveniers in Russia (all that matrioshka stuff they use to give to foreign visitors) and Russians love to bring back the same sort of trash when they have travelled. So the items spotted in the shop are just normal for Russian measures.

    • I must admit it is hard for me to imagine anyone of any nationality purchasing that jacket for $1’199! I have heard that Russians have very interesting taste in fashion though. White stretch leather with tassels and leopardskin stuff here. LOL!

  6. Russian fashion!

    What a topic!

    For a country led by robots who despise the west so much, it’s hilarious that they actually dress like actors from a 1980’s US soap opera.

    In fact, Russia is a bit of an ongoing soap opera itself isn’t it? The same rubbishy story repeated for decades…

    • Better look at your goofy western leaders. Bush, who cannot pronounce “nuclear” and who says
      “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Others are not much better, true robots with little electronics in their buttheads. How not to despise such idiots existing all across the west, also well represented at this forum?!

      • Bush was a poor public speaker. We all know that. So what? What does it have to do with the topic at hand?

      • @Huj Vam
        Po chem polzuyesh vulgarizmi v nicku? Dumayesh, chto nikto russkiy ne chitayet? Ne delay to. Uchestvuy v diskusii kak civilizirovan chelovek. My ne zhivim vsi na Zapade. Zdes’ lyudi iz Vostochney Evrope tozhe. I nenavizhim vsi Rossiyu.

  7. i think the ioc must be out of its head trusting the olympics to russia. knowing the russians they’ll most likely cheat and bribe all the judges.

  8. Of course the IOC was out of it’s head allocting
    the Games to russia ! So what else is new ?
    Was it not also out of it’s head in 1992 when
    under the pressure of the moscovites , they
    did not permit newly independent states to form
    their own national teams and instead created
    the abortion that was known as ; the Unified
    Team which gave the moscovites a chance to
    steal the lime light .
    Felix , I ‘m with you on this ; Sochi will not
    happen . Oh sure , the moscovites will try to
    pull it of , but it’s like the old fable about the
    bullfrog who tried to make himself bigger by
    blowing himself up . He finally exploded and
    so will they .

  9. I guess I knew what to expect from the name of the blog, but the full-tilt craziness is still breathtaking. Have you ever been to Russia? Do you actually know anything about it beyond what you see in lurid James Bond flicks? It sounds like one of Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey’s rants in Pravda – although, of course, directed against Russia rather than in support of it. And Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey is get-down-on-the-floor-and-roll-around crazy.

    Russians understand beauty and majesty perfectly well; St-Petersburg is easily one of the world’s most magnificent cities, and home to some of the world’s greatest art treasures as well, for example. They are perfectly capable of staging a world-class show, and will spend whatever is necessary to do so. They’re a fairly well-to-do country, thanks to oil and gas exports, and can afford it.

    Although surely some members of the foreign press, not to mention this blog, will deride it as a failure, it will be a major international event that many will tout as the emergence of a new Russia. It’s people are basically the same as you, with the same desires and fears and hopes – it’s unrealistic to see the Russians as savages when they often mirror your own behaviours. And making fun of their souvenirs is just a cheap shot.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Mark, are you even remotely aware that you are adopting EXACTLY the same attitude TOWARDS this blog that you attack us for adopting towards Russia? Isn’t that a bit too much idiotic hypocrisy even for a blind Russophile moron like you?

    Russia bragged it would get 30 medals in Vancouver. It got 15, 1/3 less than four years ago.

    Now, you brag Sochi will be great.

    The USSR sang it would last forever, and bragged it would “bury” America.

    Don’t you Russophile idiots ever get tired of being proved to be lying cretins, the joke of the planet?

    Oh and, by the way: Sochi RESIDENT and RUSSIAN CITIZEN Boris Nemtsov disagrees with you about Sochi:

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/774038–is-russia-s-2014-games-site-a-disastrous-choice

    Guess he’s just a crazy Russophobe too, huh?

    By the way, the fact that your “comment” is TOTALLY UNRELATED to the topic of this post, the quality of Russian souvenirs, is rather offensive. Please at least try to mind your manners.

    Gosh you’re dumb. Your comments make it seem that the only folks who will defend Putin’s Russia are witless apes.

    • St Petersburg may be a beautiful city, but a) those “world’s greatest art treasures” you mention were mostly stolen during WWII and b) the city itself was built by non-Russian architects. And the Olympics aren’t scheduled to take place in St Petersburg, but in Sochi, close to a warzone. Why not have the Winter Olympics in Baghdad? Or Sudan? Or Waziristan?

      • Total Nazi propaganda. St Petersburg ‘s art treasures were accumulated over several centuries by Russian emperors and private collectors. Whatever few art pieces that were taken as retribution from the Nazis constitutes less than 0.01% of the total treasure and pales in comparison to the amount of art treasures stolen and destroyed in the St. Petersburg region in WWII when barbaric Nazi Germany and deranged fascist Romania invaded USSR.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Museum

        The State Hermitage (Russian: Государственный Эрмитаж) is a museum of art and culture situated in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest[1] and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items[2], including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building also make part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Palace

        The Catherine Palace was the Rococo summer residence of the Russian tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia.

        When the German forces retreated after the siege of Leningrad, they had the residence intentionally destroyed,[1] leaving only the hollow shell of the palace behind. Prior to the World War Two, the Russian archivists managed to document a fair amount of the contents, which proved of great importance in reconstructing the palace. Although the largest part of the reconstruction was completed in time for the Tercentenary of St Petersburg in 2003, much work is still required to restore the palace to its former glory.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_Room

        The original Amber Room (English sometimes Amber Chamber) in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Due to its singular beauty, it was sometimes dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.

        German soldiers disassembled the Amber Room within 36 hours under the supervision of two experts. On 14 October 1941, Rittmeister Graf Solms-Laubach commanded the evacuation of 27 crates to Königsberg in East Prussia, for storage and display in the town’s castle. On 13 November 1941, the newspaper Königsberger Allgemeine Zeitung reported on an exhibition of part of the Bernsteinzimmer in Königsberg Castle. The Amber Room was never seen again, though reports have occasionally surfaced stating that components of the Amber Room survived the war.

        • You’re just a moron as usual, Artie boy. When did “deranged fascist Romania” attack St Petersburg? And when was Romania “fascist”? During WWII Romania didn’t “invade” anyone, it merely responded to Russian aggression and took back territories that were stolen in 1940, and afterwards went on to liberate parts of Ukraine. But I guess I can’t really blame you, your historical knowledge comes from Pravda, like with most Russians.

          • But you still have to admit that WW2 is a dark stain on Romanian history. What were Romanian troops doing in Stalingrad, far away from Ukraine? And what happened with the 140,000 or so Jews under Antonescu? Romanians were not the only ones, of course. Hungarians also fought near Stalingrad, although they weren’t as hard on the Jews as Romanians. Croatia and Slovakia fought against the Soviet Union, and also killed Jews, Gypsies, and also in Croatia’s case, Serbs (Croatia murdered about 300,ooo Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia). Even the Serbs murdered Jews. Belgrade was proclaimed the first “Judenfrei” (Jew-free) capital in Europe.
            So, there’s a reason why WW2 is called the darkest conflict in human history.

            • I agree with you 100% hroboatos. The Antonescu regime was guilty of war crimes (but then again, everone involved in WWII committed war crimes) and mass-killing of Jews (especially in Bassarabia and Transnistria). Romanians don’t deny this, and everyone guilty was executed (and I don’t feel particularly sorry for them). As for Stalingrad, most Romanian politicians opposed the idea of fighting beyond pre-1940 Romanian borders, but Antonescu’s rationale was that a) Romanian borders would never be safe unless the USSR was defeated once and for all and b) he hoped that he would persuade Hitler to return Northern Transylvania. In retrospect, Antonescu was a fool and he wasted hundreds of thousands of Romanian lives, but the fact remains that the purpose of Romanian participation in the war was defensive, not expansionist (Antonescu didn’t even want to formally annex Transnistria, which had a substantial Romanian population).
              And Antonescu wasn’t a fascist either; he was a conservative nationalist with an ugly anti-Semitic streak, and his politics were more in the vein of Pilsudski or Salazar than Hitler or Mussolini.

            • @Hungarians also fought near Stalingrad, although they weren’t as hard on the Jews as Romanians.

              “Funny” fact: by-far the most successful attack by the Soviet partisans in Ukraine by bodycount was when the Zhytomyr Partisan Grouping burned alive some 300 Hungarian Jews in a kolkhoz stable near Korosten in April 1943.

              OK, I’ll explain. The Hungarian army used conscripted thousands of Hungarian Jews in the Soviet Union for various civilian labor, including even minefield removal work without proper training. The army treated these workers badly and supplied them even worse, forcing them to forcibly take food and clothes from the locals. So the Red partisans rounded up and exterminated one such group, easily because they were unarmed. This was their greatest victory over the foreigner occupiers.

      • b) the city itself was built by non-Russian architects.

        And it was built “on bones” (quite literally) of the Russians.

        (Of course, what I just wrote was “Total Nazi propaganda. “, too. Thank you Sir Arthur now sit down and continue browsing and maybe also vandalizing Wikipedia.)

        • Well, in Arthur-speak, “Nazi propaganda” is defined as anything contradicting the official party line, and “fascist” means anyone who dares to resist Russian aggression.

    • Yes, I knew – even on such brief acquaintance – that eventually you’d get around to calling me an “ape”; that appears to be one of your favourites. Oh, and “witless”, not to mention “moron”, “idiot”, “dumb” and “lying cretin”. That’s quite a catalogue of insults for such a short entry; I’d suggest somewhat extreme for the magnitude of the supposed transgression. You stay classy, baby. That comes pretty close to violating comment policy directive number 4, Comrade.

      It reminds me quite a bit of Yevgeniy Plushenko, if you’ll forgive the comparison. Sometimes people get caught up in such a fantasy of their own Godlike characteristics that the notion anyone disagrees with them inspires a disproportionate reaction. Screaming (figuratively, of course), “witless cur!! boob!! oaf!!!” on an opinion blog at someone who has only expressed an opinion does absolutely nothing for your credibility; in fact, it has the reverse effect. You’re meant to loftily show me where I went wrong, perhaps including a few bon mots or inside jokes that will leave me suitably chastened and send a ripple of amusement through your adoring fans. Far be it from me to criticize, but you might want to work on that a little.

      While we’re on the subject, “serious” journalists typically don’t use vernacular slanguage like “LOL” in responses, unless they’re responding to a fourteen-year-old and wish to be taken for another one. It detracts from your official position of…heee….sorry, I couldn’t breathe there for a moment…”Russian Correspondent” for Pajamas Media.

      I’ve obviously failed in my repeated efforts to point out that the reference to St Petersburg does in fact relate directly to the slurs on Russian souvenirs, in that their quality was referred to as “typical” for Russians. I’d hoped you would agree that “typical” meant “of the nature of or serving as a type or representative specimen”. This implies that Russians cannot produce anything that is not tacky or cheap-looking, and I offered the architecture, art and statuary of St Petersburg as factual substantiation that the assumption is incorrect. Since these efforts have been unsuccessful, I respectfully withdraw the suggestion, and profusely apologize.

      You can quote Boris Nemtsov if you like, but I would just interject that since he grew up some 4000 miles from Sochi and has never been a resident, his analysis lacks a caertain perspective. I’d also point out that his own statements are not fact, but opinion.

      Da Svidaniya, and have a great day.

  10. [To speak about any Olympic host this way, much less a docile, self-effacing place like Canada, is the act of a true barbarian, and Russia has humiliated itself before the world by doing so.]

    Are you equating some opinion of some guy named Timothy BANCROFT- HINCHEY (clearly, not even a Russian), published in a minor league newspaper Pravda, owned by the Communist(!) opposition party, to the opinion of the ENTIRE RUSSIA? Wow.

    Looks like this Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY fellow is some bloke living in UK:

    http://www.123people.co.uk/s/timothy+bancroft

    This would be as insane as, say, equating your own opinions in this blog with those of, say, the President of the United States.

    And speaking of that, here are some of the complaints that you yourself launched at Canada’s Olympics:

    ……………………………………

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/editorial-the-looming-sochi-disaster/

    When one reflects on the serious difficulties already experienced by Canada while playing host this year, one cannot help but think Russia is engaged in a fool’s errand.

    At the opening ceremonies, one of the four cauldrons of fire that were supposed to rise dramatically from below the stage to be lit by a famous athlete experienced a mechanical failure.

    Then a Georgian luge athlete was killed during a practice run, a crucial safety wall having been left unbuilt on a track that was horrifically dangerous, producing unheardof speeds.

    Next, snow conditions deteriorated so much that a key skiing venue had to be closed to spectators because of the danger, and the world’s most famous halfpipe snowboarders began ridiculing the condition of their apparatus.

    And finally, there was a total failure of ice maintenance at the speed-skating oval, resulting in a delay of hours as coaches complained vehemently about danger to their athletes from improperly prepared rink surfaces.

    Oh, and that was all on the opening weekend alone.
    ……………………………………

  11. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey is an Englishman who has lived in Russia and reported for Pravda since 1975. Once a respected newspaper, Pravda has deteriorated into little better than a tabloid, and most Russians do not take it seriously.

    • What? When exactly was Pravda a “respected newspaper”? Are you confusing it with Izvestia?

      • Artie, your ignorance is showing again. Both papers were part of the same Soviet-era joke: “There’s no truth in Izvestia and no information in Pravda.”

        You are hilariously stupid and ill-considered.

        Meanwhile, of course, Russians did not lift a finger to stop the papers’ propaganda stream, or to stop Stalin’s murders. They turned in their neighbors and read the papers, just as they continue to do today. Hence, repeated national collapse.

        • A policy, an initiative or an idea are examples of things that can be “ill-considered”. An individual cannot be.

    • Mark, your comments are uninformed and idiotic.

      Russophile apologists make the same claims about Vladimir Zhirinovsky, yet he holds positions of great formal power and we watched the tanks roll into Georgia just as he desired.

      Pravda is one of very few Russian publications to have an English language presence, and it is DIRECTLY CONTROLLED BY THE KREMLIN. As such, it is proper to view it as expressing the Kremlin’s viewpoint.

      Can you document ANY criticism of Pravda by the Kremlin?

      Are you aware that Putin SIDED WITH PLUSHENKO and that Medvedev REFUSED TO ATTEND THE CLOSING CEREMONIES? It’s PERFECTLY CLEAR that the Kremlin agrees with the Pravda propaganda line.

      Your neo-Soviet gibberish is embarrassing to the Russians you purport to be defending. If they have only they likes of you for their allies, they are surely doomed.

  12. Mark,

    So, let’s say I’ve never been to Russia… so what? I have never been to Zimbabwe, either – yet I am pretty comfortable saying that Mugabe can bribe Prince of Monaco to have winter Olympics in Harare – but won’t be able to build luge venues.

    St. Petersburg is one of most magnificent cities… I would agree if you say was rather than is… but what does it have to do with the topic at hand.

    By the way, I try not to get into cheap shots, but the Russian performers at the closing ceremony in Vancouver looked like they stepped from 1984 movie. Maybe it’s the cameras, or maybe it’s the jet lag but this symphony orchestra looked downright scary.

    So, when Sochi is canceled, you can console yourself with your friend HV (I try not to use obscenities in any language) that Bush was a despised robot….

  13. I forbid you to call Cheburashka “embarrassingly ugly”!

    • Maybe they are confusing him with Crocodile Gena?

    • As world renowned authority on Cheburashka (see my avatar) – I have to admit: the albino version that is shown on the top of this page is ugly. If Russians can’t even make a decent Cheburashka – how can they built Olympic village?!

      Or, applying dude’s logic about St. Petersburg: Astrakhan is one of the most polluted cities in the world – how can you imagine having Olympic games in Sochi?!

  14. Well, you see, Felix, I mentioned St-Petersburg and its art treasures to address the implication that Russians are incapable of producing anything artistic or beautiful, offered as opinion because their souvenirs are tacky-looking and overpriced. Everybody does that when opportunity allows – how about those dorky-looking red mittens with the maple leaf on the palm? But those caught on like wildfire, they couldn’t keep them on the shelves. Or what about those uber-tacky tea trays featuring Charles and Diana, specially produced to mark the Royal Wedding? Does that mean England is incapable of making anything attractive or clever?

    I’d submit that what you see in an Olympic market stall is not necessarily representative of a country or its people. And if you haven’t been there, all you have to go on is someone else’s opinion, which will be coloured by their personal experience and whether they liked it or hated it. It’s kind of like the story of the blind men who were asked to describe an elephant: the one who held the tail said, “An elephant is like a rope”. The one who touched its side said, “An elephant is like a wall”, while one who felt the leg reported, “An elephant is like a tree”. If you have no experience of what you speak about, you’re just projecting someone else’s opinion. That’s fine, too, as long as you don’t make sweeping statements that you posit as informed discourse.

    However, pursuing the same line of logic you introduced, what does Zimbabwe have to do with Russia? Is Robert Mugabe somehow involved with designing souvenirs for the Sochi Olympics?

    I’ll make you a counter-prediction, which we can turn into a bet if you like – the Sochi Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled, and the positive reviews will far outnumber the negatives. What do you say? Case of beer to the winner, winner’s choice?

  15. @Mark, “…what does Zimbabwe have to do with Russia?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/11/unitednations.zimbabwe

    Sochi will be a failure because of bellicose Rooshans and no clean toilets. The word will get out, because Roosha is under a microscope. Already the press is being restricted. If it were Georgia I would go without a thought.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/01/interview_boris_nemtsov

    Foreign Policy: So why do you believe it is a mistake to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics in your hometown, Sochi?

    Boris Nemtsov: In all of Russian history, I can think of only one example as crazy as this. After he visited Iowa, [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev, told farmers around Murmansk, above the Arctic Circle, to grow corn in the frozen tundra. [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin is now repeating Khrushchev’s experience.

    He has found one of the only places in Russia where there is no snow in the winter. He has decided to build these ice rinks in the warmest part of the warmest region. Sochi is subtropical. There is no tradition of skating or hockey there. In Sochi, we prefer football, and volleyball, and swimming. Other parts of Russia need ice palaces — we don’t”.

    Kremlin is out of touch and lying again!

    • [Sochi will be a failure because of bellicose Rooshans and no clean toilets]

      Heorh,

      Have you ever seen a public toilet in Ukraine?

    • Dubai has an indoor downhill ski run. There’s downhill-quality snow available 24-7-365. Dubai has been known to nudge into the warmer temperatures – for example, the average this time of year is 81 F. Peak temperatures are normally reached in July: 106 F.

      LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

      A new record for Russophile insanity!!! This guy is actually suggesting holding the Winter Olympics IN DUBAI!!!! Now we have heard it all!!! Why stop there? Hold it in the Sahara and let them ski on the sand dunes! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yikes. Dude, you are freaky.

      • ” He has found one of the only places in Russia where there is no snow in the winter. He has decided to build these ice rinks in the warmest part of the warmest region. Sochi is subtropical.”

        “Dubai has an indoor downhill ski run.”

        “A new record for Russophile insanity!!! This guy is actually suggesting holding the Winter Olympics IN DUBAI!!!! Now we have heard it all!!!”

        I must apologize – I overestimated your ability to put things together. In my foolishness, I supposed you would be able to see the connection between simple phrases such as your quoting of the ubiquitous Boris Nemtsov – whose every word seems drop from his lips a nascent pearl of wisdom where you’re concerned – and the fact that even places much warmer than Sochi are capable of offering winter sports year-round. The point, which I perhaps unfairly expected you to grasp unassisted, was that you don’t need snow if you have money, or that snow is not really the limiting factor you perceive it to be. I didn’t actually ever suggest the Winter Olympics be held in Dubai, but I admit your version of what I said was much funnier. The braying laughter was a nice touch, just in case people didn’t realize you were being funny. And perhaps because the items I was intending to link didn’t appear exactly in sequence, that was the source of your confusion. Next time I’ll be sure to take it slower, and spell it out.

        Anyway, with the deepest respect for the geographical knowledge and meteorological insight of the Great Boris Nemtsov, I feel compelled to point out that his analysis “He has found one of the only places in Russia where there is no snow in the winter”, is perhaps a little flawed. Maybe at sea level in Sochi there isn’t – that’d be funny in a place they call the “Russian Riviera”, wouldn’t it? However, at Polyana Krasnodar – only about 25 miles away, around the same distance as Cypress from Vancouver, which people didn’t seem to find remarkable – they’re up 600 meters higher, and there is plenty of snow. That’s why they built a ski resort there. Long before they planned to host the Olympics. Because there’s snow. Lots of it.

        Felix had an excellent point earlier, that the transport to Polyana Krasnodar is ill-suited for the load it will have to bear in 2014. I’ve read that they are already widening the road and addressing other aspects of the problem.

  16. All right, the move to sanction Zimbabwe was vetoed by China and Russia; this proves – what? We seem to be drifting further and further from the subjects, which were (a) because the sample of Russian souvenirs reviewed was deemed cheesy, this somehow suggests that Russians can’t make anything that’s any good (that’s what the word “typical” implies) and generally know nothing about how to dress or act, and (b) That unless you have at least visited the country you are purporting to discuss on an expert level, you are merely parroting someone else’s opinions.

    Repeated UN resolutions to sanction Israel for its actions against its neighbours have been consistently vetoed by the United States. Does this tell us anything about either country’s taste in art or ability to host a major event on the scale of the Olympic Games? Not really.

    During the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, a green jello food pin souvenir sold for $7.00 U.S. The most popular souvenir was the Olympic beret. Is there a big French population in Salt Lake City? Nope. Is there anything tackier-looking than somebody wearing a beret who doesn’t know how to wear one properly? Perhaps, but I can’t think of it offhand. A cheesy white Cheburashka looks pretty classy in comparison. But all of that has nothing to do with the greater population of the United States, its artistic taste, its relative reputation for corruption or its ability to host large international events. Apples and oranges.

    Boris Nemtsov. Russians hate him, which pretty much preordains that a segment of Western society will love him. Billed as a free-enterprise liberal whose progressive tendencies are ruthlessly squashed by a repressive Kremlin. That may even be so – but I’d point out as a caution that he was appointed overseer of economic reform in Russia less than a year before the Russian economy tanked in the late 90’s, and that his closest business associate is Anatoly Chubais, who is so corrupt that his picture is probably in Webster’s dictionary under the heading “corruption”. That doesn’t necessarily mean Nemtsov is a liar, but it does cast his judgment into question. Also, if Vladimir “The Hit Man” Putin assasinates anyone who opposes him with impunity, why is Nemtsov still walking around and lipping off? You can’t have it both ways.

    I’ve never been to Sochi, so all I know is what I read and see on TV – just like you, I’m guessing. However, I’ve read that the actual venue will be some 50 miles inland, where there is expected to be snow if previous history is any standard of measure. Is that possible? Well, people in my hometown of Victoria are wearing shorts outside now, but I can drive less than 3 hours and ski at Mount Washington; it was tentatively suggested as a possible alternative for the just-ended Olympics when things began to get shaky at Cypress, many of the actual competitors trained there and as of today it has the deepest base (491 cm.) of any comparable ski resort worldwide.

    Russians are not idiots. Russian contributions to science and medicine (Periodic Table of the Elements, Laser Eye Surgery) are not in dispute. Staging the International Winter Games in a location where there has never been a reliable amount of snow would be an utterly boneheaded move, and I’m sure that’s not the case here.

    • And if Nemtsov is shot dead tommorow, or poisoned with a radioactive substance, aho are you going to blame?

      Let me guess. Berezovsky? British secret services? The CIA? Saakashvili? Zionists? Or maybe just a vast conspiracy of all above to blame Putin and Kadyrov into killing their enemies and critics in Russia and worldwide?

  17. And if Bush is crushed by a meteorite tomorrow, who will you blame? The FSB? NASA? Who shot J.R. Ewing? Did the FBI kill JFK? Where are you going with that argument, and how does it address the topics we were discussing? You keep going off on tangents that have a “gotcha” flavour, but have nothing to do with the last subject introduced. How would I know who might be responsible for the poisoning or shooting of Nemtsov when he’s alive and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be alive tomorrow? He presided over the cocking up of the Russian economy a dozen years ago, he’s been beaking off about the Russian government and various elements of Russia that don’t suit him for nearly that long, he doesn’t drive around in a tank or take a different route to work every day or travel in the middle of a wedge of bodyguards, and nobody has tried to rub him out yet.

    It’s very difficult to find common ground in a disagreement in which the focus keeps leaping from place to place with no discernible logic train. It sounds to me as if you’re almost hoping Nemtsov WILL be whacked, because you’d be able to shout, “AHA!!!” Just for kicks, google “Nemtsov assassination attempt”. Aside from two hits referring to an alleged assassination attempt on his pal Chubais, crickets chirping.

    Things might resume a more ordered appearance if they weren’t viewed from under the brim of a tinfoil hat.

    • speaking of focus leaping from place to place… How does one gets from a discussion about Sochi Olympics to the fact that St. Petersburg is one of the world’s most magnificent cities, and home to some of the world’s greatest art treasures as well?

      By the way, you keep using present tense about St. Petersburg… Anything magnificent was created there in last 50 years? Any great art treasures owe their existence to Romanov? Was anybody surprised when the popular TV series was called Gangster Petersburg – as opposed to Gangster Nizhny or Gangsta Vladik?

      So, there is a lot to argue about the real magnificence of the capital of Leningrad – but you may want to find a more appropriate topic!

      • [Any great art treasures owe their existence to Romanov?]

        Yes, lots of great art treasures we their existence to Romanovs. Faberge is the best-known example. :-)

        [Anything magnificent was created there in last 50 years?]

        Joseph Brodsky’s poetry? The restoration of the Amber Chamber? Great works by numerous modern Russian painters? The music of Shostakovich? Sokurov’s films?

        • Arthur, if it wasn’t obvious (I did mention last 50 years, though) – I was talking about Romanov who ruled Leningrad in 70s and 80s…

          • Yes, it was obvious. And yet – it was funny.

            • Arthur,
              I assume that an example of Joseph Brodsky’s poetry being credited to Leningrad is also sarcastic? Frankly, with your posts I am confused…

              If not – may I suggest Magadan as intellectual and creative capital of mid-20th century Russia… Or mental health hospital (high-security ward specifically) being a great replacement for Writers’ Guild House

              • Felix,

                What’s your bottom line point? That modern Russians have no right to enjoy and take pride in their own cultural creations of the last 50 years?

                How about the British? Should they be banned from claiming Sir Thomas More as one of their own just because an English tyrant beheaded him? How about the Czechs and Jan Hus? French and Jeanne D’Arc? Italians and Giordano Bruno? Americans and Bobby Fischer?

                • the bottom line point (which is described in the first comment to this post) is that Russia does not have the ability to build Olympic venues in Sochi, and therefore Sochi Olympic either won’t happen or will be reduced to an ice rink events (hockey and figure skating).

                  Leningrad discussion that Mark started is an irrelevant distraction. Magnificent history, art collection and persecuted artists that a city 1000 miles away is known for is a non-sequitur.

                  As far as comparison between Brodsky and all the others… Which of the countries that you mention count the history from that particular period? Because FSB web page specifically mentions that it started from 1917. It is like German security services counts its history from Gestapo, and yet considers Einstein its national pride

                  • [As far as comparison between Brodsky and all the others… Which of the countries that you mention count the history from that particular period? Because FSB web page specifically mentions that it started from 1917.]

                    Oh come on, Felix. Stop treating me like you treat the russophobic morons here. Stop demagoguery. Whether the FSB starts its history with 1917 or 1992 or with the Czarist Okhranka – has nothing to do with whether Russians can take pride in the Russian culture.

                    Moreover, even if FSB did start in 1917, that doesn’t mean that the history of Russia started in 1917.

                    Why is the US government’s persecution of Bobby Fischer less relevant here just because it happened in our times and not back in 1776?

                    [Which of the countries that you mention count the history from that particular period? ]

                    How about the Anglican Church of England? It dates exactly to the same tyrant that beheaded Sir Thomas More:

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_England#History

                    The English church was under papal authority for nearly a thousand years, before separating from Rome in 1534 during the reign of King Henry VIII. A theological separation had been foreshadowed by various movements within the English church such as Lollardy, but the English Reformation gained political support when Henry VIII wanted an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. Under pressure from Catherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Pope Clement VII refused the annulment. Eventually, Henry, although theologically a doctrinal Catholic, took the position of Supreme Head of the Church of England to ensure the annulment of his marriage. He was excommunicated by Pope Paul III

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Thomas_More

                    Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, scholar, author and statesman. He is also recognised as being a saint within the Catholic Church. During his life he gained a reputation as a leading Renaissance humanist, an opponent of the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther and wrote long treatises opposing William Tyndale and others who wished to see the Bible translated into the English language. For three years toward the end of his life he was Lord Chancellor.

                    More coined the word “utopia” – a name he gave to the ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in Utopia, published in 1516. An important counsellor to Henry VIII of England, he was imprisoned and executed by beheading in 1535 after he had fallen out of favour with the king over his refusal to sign the Act of Supremacy 1534, which declared the king to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England, effecting a final split with the Catholic Church in Rome.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglican_Church#History

                    The Anglican Communion is a relatively recent concept. The Church of England (which until the 20th century included the Church in Wales) initially separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1538 in the reign of King Henry VIII, reunited in 1555 under Queen Mary I and then separated again in 1570 under Queen Elizabeth I (the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated Elizabeth I in 1570 in response to the Act of Supremacy 1559).

                    • Russians can take pride in Brodsky (as well as Sakharov, Likhachev, and thousands of other martyrs); Russian government can’t!

                      I am not aware of US government’s persecution of Bobby Fisher (or Khomsky, or Angela Davis). There was a law prohibiting contacts with Yugoslav government (as there is now similar laws against North Korea, Iran, etc.) He willfully violated that law – he got into trouble with the law. Far cry from Brodsky, Solzhnitsyn, or Sinyavsky.

                      I am not a history buff; so if there is a reason to believe that Queen Elizabeth should feel responsible from More, or Cromwell, or Henry VIII’s wives – I’ll take your word for it.

                      But it so irrelevant to this thread (Sochi Olympics) that I am not going to engage in this discussion any more. Full stop.

                    • Felix wrote:
                      [There was a law prohibiting contacts with Yugoslav government]

                      Yes, and there was a law mandating that every adult Soviet citizen must be gainfully employed. This law was used to persecute Brodsky.

                      Similarly, the anti-Yugoslav law was used by the US government to persecute Fischer. Just as the current US law says that anybody, who travels to Cuba without a pre-authorisation or brings a Cuban cigar into the country, can be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years.

                      I fail to see how a normal freedom-loving person approve of these totalitarian American laws.

                    • Actually Arthur, wrong again.

                      The Church of England was under Papal Authority from 1067 to 1538, prior to that it was under the authority of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople.

                      When the great schism between Orthodoxy & Catholicism occurred the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh chose Orthodoxy.

                      The famous illustrated bible, the Book of Kells written and illustrated by English, Irish, and Scottish monks, was presented to the titular head of the Church, the Emperor of Byzantium NOT to the Pope in Rome.

                      When threatened by a dual invasion in 1066, King Harold appealed not to the heretics in Rome, but to his liege lord and the Church in Constantinople, then there is the small matter of the Norman invasion of England being granted Papal authority and given the status of a crusade….

                      Really Arthur, you have a very very poor grasp of history.

                • Felix wrote:
                  [the bottom line point is that Russia does not have the ability to build Olympic venues in Sochi]

                  Why would you say so? You keep on equating modern Russia with the Soviet Union and constantly bring up the actions of Romanov and other Soviet leaders as if modern Russia is still like the Soviet Union.

                  Well, the Soviet Union had absolutely no problem in building Olympic venues for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. In fact, totalitarian regimes — like Brezhnev’s and Putin’s — are very good at such massive projects, especially when it involves showing off to foreign viewers.

                  Will there be corruption? Yes. Will the construction end up costing the Russian taxpayers 5 times more than they should? Yes. But the government WILL pay this money, and the venues WILL be finished in time for the Olympics.

                  • Arthur – did you read what I wrote here, in the comments for this post? I do not equate USSR and Russia, I said that I had no doubt that USSR will put great Moscow Olympics; and I explained why I don’t believe Sochi won’t happen (scroll up).

                    Brezhnev’s was totalitarian regime; Putin is kleptocracy without a spigot. Which leads to the inevitable decay But we can come back to this topic in 3.5 years

                    • If you think that Putin is incapable of doing and spending whatever it takes to reach his political goal – in this case, to build Olympic arenas in order to silence his critics – then you are not thinking straight.

                      Your prediction that there will be “partial” Olympics – 15 to 20 events – is evidence to the same:

                      [Russia does not have the ability to build Olympic venues in Sochi, and therefore Sochi Olympic either won’t happen or will be reduced to an ice rink events (hockey and figure skating).]

                      FYI:

                      1. Ice rink events also include short-track racing and curling.

                      2. X-country/biathlon facilities are extremely inexpensive and easy to build in Yasnaya Polyana. These two disciplines alone account for more than 20 medals.

                      3. Yasnaya Polyana already has the capability to host Olympic alpine racing, although it wouldn’t be ideal. Judge for yourself:

                      http://www.sochi-travel.info/articles/photos-from-gazproms-ski-resort-psekhako-ridge/

                      http://www.sochi-travel.info/articles/sochi-mountain-ski-center-gazprom/

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krasnaya_Polyana,_Krasnodar_Krai

                      Krasnaya Polyana today offers many chalets, hotels, and restaurants. Amateurs can ski down through a not-too-dense birch forest, with a vertical drop of 1,700 meters (5,580 ft). The station has four chairlifts (lowest station at 600 meters (1,970 ft) and upper station at 2,200 meters (7,220 ft)) and 12 kilometers (7 mi) of delimited tracks.

                      So, you WILL lose your beer, barring some unlikely calamity.

    • @And if Bush is crushed by a meteorite tomorrow, who will you blame?

      The number of the former US presidents crushed by meteorite is lower than of, for example, the well-known Chechen dissidents shot dead in Vien, Dubai, or Moscow.

      So now stop clowning around, and answer my question.

      Then answer my bonus questions:

      1. Who do you think killed the Hero of Russia R. Yamadayev in Moscow, and who ordered the killing of the Hero of Russia S. Yamadayev in Dubai?

      2. Who do you think killed Col. Litvinenko, and who killed Lt. Israilov?

      3. Who do you think killed Anna Politkovskaya, and who killed Natasha Estemirova?

      I’m pretty sure you might have an opinion on at least some of those relatively recent deaths. So don’t be shy.

      Then you might tell me:

      Do you think the Hero of Russia Gen. R. Kadyrov and the Hero of Russia Gen. Y. Yevkurov are right, and is the Russian Muslim insurgency in their republics actually sponsored and actively aided by the Georgian, US, British and Israeli secret services? Because I wonder.

  18. yes, Mark – I am absolutely on for the case of beer bet… just like I said in my very first post, I am willing to bet that there will be no Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

    I suggest, we call it a tie if there is some sporting event where there are between 5 and 20 sets of medals (Vancouver had 85 or so; and I *do* believe that Russians can build an ice rink where they will have hockey and a dozen figure skating events)

  19. “Well, you see, Felix, I mentioned St-Petersburg and its art treasures to address the implication that Russians are incapable of producing anything artistic or beautiful, offered as opinion because their souvenirs are tacky-looking and overpriced.”

    I thought I addressed that at the beginning of the last post. The subject was the perceived tackiness of the souvenirs offered as a preview to Sochi 2014. Comments suggested this is typical of Russians. I suggest it’s not. I believe I supported, with examples, that tacky souvenirs are neither exclusive to Russia or indicative of overall good taste in the population of the host country. I never buy souvenirs offered at major sporting events, rock concerts or anything of that nature, because they’re uniformly overpriced and crappy. I’ll bet you’d find the majority of souvenirs offered by virtually any venue you could name would be made in China, or Taiwan or Mexico; someplace where the workers will make the junk for peanuts, and the vendor can realize maximum profit.

    St-Petersburg remains one of the world’s cultural treasures, easily on the same scale as Paris. What’s Paris done in the last 50 years? Isn’t what it is, enough? The Louvre might not add a new painting for another 100 years, but there’ll still not be another collection of art like it on the planet. Similarly, the Hermitage and Tsarskoye Seloe are so magnificent as to take the breath away.

    Of course, that’s not typical of Russia, either. There’s much to laugh about in Russia – Vladivostok “International Airport”, for instance. You have to take a bus from the plane to the pile of wreckage they call the terminal, even though once the plane has finished taxiing, it’s only about 100 yards from the doors. When you go to pick up your luggage, there’s a single baggage carousel that’s about half the size of regular ones, and it’s fed from a square hole in the wall where a couple of unshaven guys dressed like farmers manhandle the bags through onto the belt. Still, Vladivostok Air has never once lost my luggage or messed up my ticketing, while Air Canada (easily the worst airline of any developed country, but still cocky because of all its government bailouts) reliably does both.

    Vladivostok isn’t a pretty city. The streets are pocked with potholes, and the remaining Soviet-era apartment buildings look like icecube trays standing on end. But the people are decent and kind and generous, they love their children and they work at making a living as best they know how, and they don’t whine or expect someone else to do all the hard stuff for them.

    Not once did anyone on the streets stop me and say “Papers, Comrade”, or any of that Tom Clancy fantasy stuff. Nobody tried to pick my pocket or sell me their sister, or spit on me because I’m a foreigner. Putin didn’t try to assassinate me or, if he did, he was extraordinarily inept at it. It was a nice place to visit, and I couldn’t wait to go back.

    Vladivostok is no uglier than Bakersfield, California. Is the measure of greatness for a city what it’s done lately – the Janet Jackson Standard? What’s Toronto done lately? Madrid? Los Angeles? Yes, there’s a major organized crime presence in St Petersburg, and yes, the Russian mafia is orders of magnitude worse than say, the mafia in New York. Again, that’s taking us in a different direction, but I’d submit the presence of organized crime is not representative of the general population either, or of a country’s progressiveness. Is there any organized crime in Baghdad? Probably not much, but it’s no place you’d want to visit.

    Your terms for the bet are more than reasonable; I accept. I’ve read there will be two main venues, much like Vancouver, and I agree it will be no great feat to furnish a couple of ice rinks to host the skating events. The other sports will be hosted in the mountains of the Krasnodar region.

    My favourite is Stella Artois. Better start looking around for a store that sells it, though – major domestic sponsors Rozneft and RZD (Russian Railways) have recently come on board, and domestic sponsorship revenue currently tops $1 Billion; more than three times the initial fundraising target.

    Just in case you’re right, what’s your favourite beer?

    • @Is there any organized crime in Baghdad? Probably not much

      Actually there is much.

      http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100224/iraq_wednesday_100224/20100224

      • I’ve been reading your blog, and it seems like you all just regurgitate things you’ve read online,(Wikipedia) and pass it off as your own knowledge. how many of you actually been to Baghdad? Or sichi or st petersburg or volgagrad. You haven’t been there, all the information you have on it is second hand biased info at best. unless you don’t question your country’s main stream media, those guys couldn’t have an agenda, no way! (or what ever blog you consider to be a reliable news source). but to tell you the truth you all sound like ignorant brainwashed fools. I take pity on you.

  20. Hoegaarden and Leffe on tap.

  21. Are you in as well, Arthur? Is your position that the Sochi Games will take place, or not?

    • Mark,

      Barring some extraordinary event – like an earthquake, a major war, a huge radioactive nuclear explosion in Iran, etc – the 2014 Olympics will take place. And of course, if they take place, all events will be held.

      So, I will gladly make a bet against Felix for, say, 10 cases of beer, or better yet – 2 cases of French champagne. However, are we all going to be around 4 years from now to settle this bet?

      • the dudes that were foaming at their mouths that their cousin’s brother-in-law heard directly from his best friend who has best intelligence in all of Mountains and Caves region that Russians are going to invade Georgia in summer of 2009 certainly disappeared.

        I, however, plan to stick around – although in a few days I am going back to long workdays and much less commenting here!

        10 cases of beer with a stranger usually means that you consider the whole thing a joke and are not planning to pony up. One case of beer, however, is small enough that weaseling out of it would burn you for the rest of your life…

        • OK, one case of beer it is. I will owe you Guinness, you – owe me Leffe.

          BTW, I have noticed that you can italicize text here. How do you do that?

          • put <em&gt: and </em> around the text you want to italicize; or strong to make it bold

            • Thanks, Felix. How about embedding a link, like you did to the name “Romanov” above?

              In fact, how/where can I look up a simple tutorial/description of how to do all such things? What is the name of the language that does it? Is this HTML?

              • yes, it’s HTML. wordpress is kinda lame and unpredictable in what tags it allows and what it doesn’t. Links are <a …> And there is no “edit” capability as is in some other engines. These are the four tags that I am using (em, strong, a, and blockquote to quote and indent – you use [] for this).

  22. A. wrote:
    [I can’t really blame you, your historical knowledge comes from Pravda, like with most Russians.]

    No, my knowledge comes from histroy book, while your comes from some Romanian ultra-nationalist revisionist propaganda:

    [During WWII Romania didn’t “invade” anyone, and afterwards went on to liberate parts of Ukraine.]

    “Liberate”? So, the occupation of Ukraine by Nazi Germany and Romania in WWII was “liberation”? Of whom did Romania “liberate” Ukraine? Let’s see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1941_Odessa_massacre

    1941 Odessa massacre

    The Odessa massacre was the extermination of Jews in Odessa and surrounding towns in Transnistria during the autumn of 1941 and the winter of 1942 in a series of massacres and killings during the Holocaust by Romanian forces, under German control, encouragement and instruction. Blaming the Jews and the communists for the massacre, the Romanian troops begin the slaughter of 5,000 Jews in Odessa, on October 23. In the afternoon, more than 25,000 Jews were assembled and taken out to the gates of Dalnik. The doors were closed and Lieutenant-Colonel Nicolae Deleanu ordered the soldiers to fire into the buildings. The next day grenades were thrown into one of the buildings. Other Jews were herded into the harbor square, sprinkled with gasoline, and set on fire. Over 22,000 corpses were found in mass graves after the war. Around 35,000 – 40,000 of the Jews that remained were moved into the ghetto in the suburb of Slobodka where most of the buildings were destroyed, and left outdoors for ten days, and many Jews froze to death. On October 28, a new massacre was started when 4,000-5,000 Jews were herded into stables and shot.[citation needed] By the end of December an additional 50,000 Jews from the concentration camp at Bogdanovka had been killed. One month later, 10,000 were taken on a death march to the three concentration camps in Golta. In January, the extermination was ended, by killing those who remained in Slobodka. From January 12-23, the last 19,582 Jews were transported in cattle wagons to Berezovka from where they were transported to the concentration camps in Golta. Eighteen months later almost everyone had died in Golta.
    ……………………………

    Are you sure your historical knowledge doesn’t come from Dr. Goebbels himself? To call this “liberation” is beyond horror. It’s time your Romanian textbooks and newspapers stopped calling the occupation of Ukraine and the extermination of Ukrainian Jews “a liberation”.

    [Everyone guilty was executed]

    They were executed because Nazi Germany and Romania were defeated by the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union made the execution of the Romanian perpetrators of the Holocaust one of the conditions of Romania’s surrender:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_occupation_of_Romania

    Soviet occupation of Romania

    In line with Article 14 of the Armistice Agreement, two People’s Tribunals were set up to try suspected war criminals, one in Bucharest, and the other in Cluj.

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/rumania.asp

    The Armistice Agreement with Rumania; September 12, 1944

    6.

    The Rumanian Government will immediately set free, irrespective of citizenship and nationality, all persons held in confinement on account of their activities in favor of the United Nations or because of their sympathies with the cause of the United Nations, or because of their racial origin, and will repeal all discriminatory legislation and restrictions imposed thereunder.

    13. The Rumanian Government undertake restore all legal rights and interests of the United Nations and their nationals on Rumanian territory as they existed before the war and to return their property in complete good order.

    14. The Rumanian Government and High Command undertake to collaborate with the Allied (Soviet) High Command in the apprehension and trial of persons accused of war crimes.

    15. The Rumanian Government undertakes immediately to dissolve all pro-Hitler organizations (of a Fascist type) situated in Rumanian territory, as well as other organizations conducting propaganda hostile to the United Nations, in particular the Soviet Union, and will not in future permit the existence of organizations of that nature.

    Done in Moscow, in four copies. September 12, 1944.
    ……………………………

    I bet they don’t teach these facts in Romania, do they?

    • @2010 Wikipedia massacre

      Shut up.

    • Arthur, you’re funny. I’m not a nationalist, ultra-nationalist or super-duper-nationalist. I addressed the issue of Romanian war crimes earlier (the Odessa massacre being indeed one of the worst). Unlike Russia, which still calls the invasion of Europe “the Great Patriotic War” and makes heroes out of rapists and war criminals, Romania has long faced up to the wrongdoings of the Antonescu regime, and it’s against the law to glorify him or other war criminals. When will Russia do the same?

      Antonescu’s war crimes nothwistanding, it’s a well-documented fact that Romania had no expansionist designs on the Soviet Union, and refused to formally annex ANY Ukrainian territory (despite German and Hungarian pressure to annex Transnistria, Pocutia and part of Galicia), nor was the Ukrainian population subjected to any kind of persecution. In fact, in all war crimes committed by the Romanian army, much of the dirty work was done by Ukrainian volunteers. Just as in 1919, it was in Romania’s interest for an independent Ukraine to emerge.

      • [Arthur, you’re funny.]

        Thanks. I aim to please.

        [I addressed the issue of Romanian war crimes earlier]

        No, not earlier than your remark about “liberation of Ukraine”. Later.

        Don’t you see how bizarre this idea that Nazi Germany and Romania conquered Ukraine and tried to conquer all of USSR in order to “liberate” them. Let me remind you that both in Nazi Germany and Romania in WWII, that was the official reason given for invading USSR: to “liberate” them from “the hook-nosed Jewish bolsheviks”.

        [nor was the Ukrainian population subjected to any kind of persecution.]

        Weren’t the Jews, exterminated by the Romanian troops, part of that Ukrainian population? Or do you view Ukrainian Jews as not being part of the Ukrainian population?

        [I’m not a nationalist, ultra-nationalist or super-duper-nationalist.]

        No, you are not an ultra-nationalist by Romanian standards. But from a non-Romanian point of view, your post here definitely show nationalist bias, which may be due to the way your schools and media teach you in Romania. I assure you that to a non-Romanian ear, the idea that the Holocaust against Ukrainian Jews was NOT “any kind of persecution”, sounds outrageous, to say the least.

        And stop blaming Ukrainians for the crimes ordered by the Romanian government. I assure you that under the abominable Soviet rule there was never anything that comes even close to such total cold-blooded extermination of the entire Jewish community in Ukraine.

        • This from the man who claims that all was peace light and brotherhood under Russian imperialism.

          As for “I assure you that under the abominable Soviet rule there was never anything that comes even close to such total cold-blooded extermination of the entire Jewish community in Ukraine.”

          Well maybe not, unless you count the forced deportations of various ethnic groups from the Caucasus, the complete extermination of the ethnic German populations of the Volga, and Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad etc.

          Then there is that joyful expression of Russian “Brotherhood towards ethnic minorities” called the Circassian genocide, OK so this was a Tsarist crime against humanity, one of many, but you get the idea.

        • Arthur, it’s good that you aim to please, you’re keeping up the involuntary humour. What exactly was “nationalist” about my comments? I think you’re projecting your own bias and deeply flawed historical knowledge onto me. I never defended or denied Antonescu’s crimes, as I said previously, I think he was a fool and he deserved the death penalty. On the other hand, you keep defending or denying Soviet crimes.

          The most hilarious part was “under the abominable Soviet rule there was never anything that comes even close to such total cold-blooded extermination of the entire Jewish community in Ukraine”. Are you drunk or something? The Romanian army and the Ukrainian auxiliaries killed tens of thousands of Jews, and that’s obviously horrible, but can you even compare that to the millions of people that the Soviets killed? How about the extermination of the Ukrainian community in Ukraine (Holodomor wink wink hint hint), the killing or deportation of almost the entire Romanian population of Northern Bucovina and the genocide in Bassarabia, the ethnic cleansing in the Baltics, in the Caucasus, in Crimea etc etc. And do you happen to know where the term pogrom comes from?

          I can’t speak for the Germans, but Romania’s reason for entering the war was to recover its territories and to annihilate the Bolshevik threat, nothing to do with “hook-nosed Jews”. It was indeed my mistake to talk about Ukrainians without mentioning Jews, what I meant was non-Jewish Ukrainians, who suffered no persecution and on the whole collaborated with the Romanian army. The mass-killing of Jews was the result of collective paranoia caused by the atrocities committed by the Soviets a year before, and there was this flawed idea associating Jews with Communists (since most prominent Communists in Romania were Russian-speaking Jews, a small minority nevertheless in the Jewish community). Antonescu and his ilk are guilty for feeding this collective paranoia and causing so much suffering and death.

          So until you recognize Russian crimes, it’s pretty clear who’s brainwashed. There’s a Holocaust memorial in the centre of Bucharest, I’m looking forward to a memorial in Moscow commemorating Polish, Baltic, Romanian, Ukrainian, Chechen or Circassian victims of Russian imperialism.

      • @A. Why don’t you keep it real?
        In 1941–4 the Romanians set up a military dictatorship in Bukovyna (which was turned into a General government), established concentration camps, put prominent Ukrainians (Olha Huzar, M. Zybachynsky, and others) on trial, prohibited any kind of civic and cultural work, and introduced total Romanianization. At this time partisan groups sprang up in the mountains of Bukovyna forming the Bukovynian-Ukrainian Self-Defense Army. Under V. Luhovy’s leadership these units fought the Romanians and, in 1944, the Soviets.

        In March 1944 Soviet troops occupied northern Bukovyna for the second time. The Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 between the Allies and the Romanians (see Paris Peace Treaties of 1947) recognized the Soviet-Romanian border that had been established in 28 June 1940. The Soviet government created in Bukovyna the same conditions of life as in the Ukrainian SSR.

        • I don’t really want to hijack and divert this thread completely, I don’t think World War II had anything to do with the Sochi Olympics. But in short, I know of no anti-Ukrainian repression, nor of any concentration camps in Bucovina (there were some in Transnistria, where Jews and gypsies were sent, and local Ukrainians participated in the horrors). I also know that the mayor of Cernauti, Traian Popovici, successfully stopped Antonescu from inflicting collective reprisals on the Ukrainian and Jewish communities for the atrocities some of them had committed in 1940 during the Soviet invasion. I don’t know how you can “Romanianize” an area that is Romanian anyway. And in Transnistria the Romanians continued to fund Russian and Ukrainian schools etc, so there was no attempt towards ethnic cleansing of Russians and Ukrainians. So while Romanian participation in the Holocaust is a sad and shameful fact, stories about the persecution of Russians and Ukrainians are just Soviet fairytales meant to foment hatred by Ukrainian immigrants against Romanians.

          • @A. “Soviet Fairytales”
            “I can’t speak for the Germans, but Romania’s reason for entering the war was to recover its territories and to annihilate the Bolshevik threat, nothing to do with “hook-nosed Jews”. It was indeed my mistake to talk about Ukrainians without mentioning Jews” @A.

            Exact figures concerning the Jewish population of pre-war Romania are not available. The census of 1930 lists 759,000 Jews. During the period preceding, and immediately following the outbreak of World War II, there was a significant influx of Jewish refugees from neighbouring countries into Romania. That inflow brought the Jewish population up to approximately 850,000. Only about 400,000 survived after the war. These were mainly Jews living in counties where there were no mass deportations.

            During the fall and winter of 1941, almost half of Romania’s Jewish population was deported to Transnistria, a stretch of land in south-western Ukraine. Only about 54,000 of the original deportees survived that ordeal. The thriving cultural and religious life of many communities, and their energetic Jewish institutions were destroyed. Furthermore, the potential contribution by those who perished to the development of the country and of the world community vanished.

            Since the manner of annihilation chosen by Romanian authorities was rather disorganized and haphazard, the precise number of victims who perished during the many pogroms, on the Iasi Death Train, or of those who died at various “labour projects” and camps within Romania or in Transnistria, will never be known. Raul Hilberg mentions 270,000 dead. Estimates of other historians reach as high as 400,000.

            Of the 150,000 Jews living in northern Transylvania (a Romanian region ceded to Hungary in August, 1940), 105,000 were murdered, mostly following their deportation to death camps in Germany and German-occupied Poland by the Hungarian Fascists.

            Various sources estimate that of the 300,000 native Ukrainian Jews, living prior to the war within the territory dubbed Transnistria, between 150,000 and 200,000 perished.

            “Today Transnistria is an historic phantom, having vanished without a trace. But in Jewish history it is inscribed in blood and tears; it will never be forgotten. Transnistria spells horror –horror that defies description; savage revolting acts of cruelty and bestiality; … in which one group of men torture, rob, and destroy their helpless victims in cold blood. Transnistria symbolizes genocide.” 3

            During the last five decades Romania’s governments did not assume responsibility for the annihilation of about half of its Jewry. That chapter in the country’s history was constantly ignored. Some Romanian politicians, historians, and writers are currently trying to whitewash the atrocities inflicted on the Jews by altering, or even entirely denying certain historical facts. Thus, they attribute the wartime abominations to a fringe of the population. In fact, anti-Semitism was a widespread historical phenomenon in Romania. The sad truth is that, during the Holocaust, some Romanians of all socio-economic strata — professors, students, professionals, merchants, blue-collar workers, or peasants — became willing and active participants in the persecution and killing of Jews.

            http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/c/carmelly-felicia/intro.html

            • Not all of the info on that website is accurate, in fact there are a lot of inaccuracies. You need to be more selective about your sources, Yuri. But the whole Holocaust thing is beside the point anyway, since I didn’t deny Romanian participation in the Holocaust. You were re-hashing Soviet fairytales about Romanian mistreatment of ethnic Ukrainians. Got any proof for that? Yeah, thought so.
              Plus your beloved Stalin also had the habit of inflicting collective punishment for “collaboration” with the Nazis (Chechens, Tatars etc). So by your standards Antonescu’s atrocities against the Jews were totally acceptable.

              • @A. Read my post again. What is wrong with the source? I will stand by it. These Jews were Ukrainians! At least they thought so. So you @A must lie again, and dismissing my source without any proof of your own .

                “Various sources estimate that of the 300,000 native Ukrainian Jews, living prior to the war within the territory dubbed Transnistria, between 150,000 and 200,000 perished.”

                You are the true Stalinist, making up excuses for your alliance with Hitler.

                LaRussophobe should ban you for wasting our time and not offering sources, just baiting.

                • Georg,

                  How low of you to advocate shutting other people’s opinions by banning them. You hate freedoms, don’t you? OK, I am sure you love your own freedoms. You hate the freedoms of those who disagree with you.

                  And given your own non-stop complaints about “Jewish oligarchs”, you are more of an antisemite than A.

  23. Mark – I’ll go for Guinness. Or, if Obama pisses off Brits to the extent that it won’t be available, I’ll settle for any dark Pacific Northwest micro brewery kind.

    Your posts are too long to comment in detail. I agree with some (tackiness of souvenirs, ugliness of Bakersfield, or Russian mafia). I don’t know much about other (Vladivostok is considered to be one of the most destitute places in Russia, where the mayor and the governor seem to be sending contract killers to each other… On the other hand, massive anti-Kremlin demonstrations happened there a few years ago).

    Leningrad used to have most intelligent, charming and creative people in Russia. Some of Hermitage treasures are centuries old; others were indeed looted from Germany and Italy. But in 70s and early 80s you could feel the Big Brother everywhere. Apparently, Romanov wanted to annihilate the “Petersburg spirit”, and he mainly succeeded.

    I am not going to comment any further. My point was Sochi; and we agree to wait for four years to settle our dispute. I live in Los Angeles. Just like you – I can walk outside in shorts; or I can jump in the car and 2 hours later I would be snowboarding on Mountain High. Sochi is different. I’ve been there many times. You can get twenty limos to the ski resort; not tens of thousands of athletes and spectators.

    By the way, I had no doubt that USSR could do wonderful job in 1980 and host Moscow Olympics there. Including bringing Army Corpse of Free Labor and removing undesired 100km away. There were people who had interest and ability to ram it through. I just don’t see such people in Russia today. RosNeft and RZhD are quasi-government agencies; they don’t build. They, at best, can give money that they currently don’t have to construction companies who are much more interested in “appropriate” the allocations than to actually build anything. Sochi cargo port that was washed away by a small port is a perfect example of what I am saying.

  24. correction:
    They, at best, can give money that they currently don’t have to construction companies who are much more interested in “appropriating” the allocations than to actually build anything. Sochi cargo port that was washed away by a small stormis a perfect example of what I am saying.

  25. Guinness it is. Regardless Obama’s relationship vis-a-vis the British, I’m sure I’ll still be able to get it in Canada. You’ll probably be able to buy Stella, too, as long as Sarko the American is still running the show in France. I liked some of your points, and I suspect we’re not too far apart on root arguments.

    If I drift away from this blog – which I only stumbled upon as a result of a google search for “Sochi 2014 souvenirs” – you’ll be able to find me at marknesop@shaw.ca .

    • [You’ll probably be able to buy Stella, too, as long as Sarko the American is still running the show in France. ]

      Isn’t Stella belgian?

  26. Felix, thank you for your advice.

  27. Oh, yeah, that’s right – it is Belgian.

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