EDITORIAL: Putin’s Sochi Charade


Putin’s Sochi Charade

With the Russian economy in freefall, it’s looking more and more every day like Russia’s effort to host the 2014 Olympics will bankrupt the nation, leading either to total Russian humiliation before the world or to draconian, Soviet-like privation and suffering for the sake of a Potemkin sham.

After inspecting Russia’s efforts thus far to prepare for the games, IOC Chairman Jean-Claude Killy stated ominously:  “Time is not a luxury that we have to play with on this project. The Sochi team must therefore ensure that it makes its decisions in a timely manner, so as to maintain its ambitious schedule.”  A rough translation from the pained diplomatic language upon which Killy must rely is:  “HOLY #*#&@^! What the #*#&@^! do you people think you are doing here?”

Even Vladimir Putin was forced to admit the massive problems: “We have said more than once that no matter what the difficulties, the necessary resources would be issued in full and on time — and this is what is happening.”

No matter what the difficulties, Mr. Putin?  You mean even if Russian children have to starve, the games will go on?  Did you consult with their parents before making that commitment, sir? Does it bother you at all that your country doesn’t even have snow in sufficient quantities to train your own athletes, much less to host others (Sochi, after all, is a summer beach resort).

Russia has bitten off far more than it can chew in Sochi, bidding for the games when its economy was buoyed by oil prices that were three times higher than they are today.  The disaster is apparent in Russia’s failure to have begun crucial construction projects:  Everyone knows that any construction project always offers unexpected delays, and Russia can’t afford any according to Killy.  What’s more, in Russia — where corruption and incompetence are rampant — such delays will be more pronounced and frequent than they would be anywhere else in the world.

And what about security?  The world won’t know the extent of Russia’s willingness and ability to protect the games from terror attacks until the very last minute before they begin, and will have to rely on Russian integrity for much of what it “knows.”  As we’ve said many times before, that’s a fool’s errand that places the lives of the Olympic athletes in terrible peril.

For Russia’s own good and for the safety of the athletes, the games should be relocated now, before the point of no return has been passed and the world, and the Russians, are left to pick up the pieces.

6 responses to “EDITORIAL: Putin’s Sochi Charade

  1. Sochi and Russia will have a challenge meeting the standard that Vancouver will set in 2010. Most of the infrastructure was already in place, and what had to be build was finished or will be finished ahead of schedule. A nice piece on Vancouver and how it is ready for the Olympic spotlight in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2009-03-12-vancouver-olympics_N.htm.

  2. Having stayed in the “Olypic Hotel” in Moscow, I can assure you that there is NO CHANCE of Russia matching the infrastructre in Vancouver, none whatsoever.
    Even the latest Russian buildings would be condemned as unsafe in the EU or US.

  3. And these are the guys they expect to guard the olympics????

    The surveillance video is chilling. A uniformed police officer, drunk and swaying, staggers through the aisles of a Moscow supermarket. Gun in hand, he calmly shoots, reloads and keeps shooting as terrified shoppers run for their lives. The late April rampage, which left three dead and seven injured, has shaken up the Moscow police force. The fact that its 32-year-old perpetrator, Major Denis Yevsyukov, was a high-ranking district police chief, has added to the public outrage.

    For a system of law enforcement with an already lackluster reputation, the killing spree was a low point. But in the weeks since the shooting, a number of other high-profile crimes committed by police officers have shown that abuse of power is all too common. While officials are pledging to drastically change the training and education program provided for officers, many remain concerned that they are doing too little.

    In May alone, the number of incidents involving the Russian militsiya and other agents of the law is shocking. On May 9th, one drunk senior lieutenant in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug opened fire on a children’s playground and assaulted a young girl. Allegedly, he was angered by the fact that she was singing a pop song in English during the Victory Day holiday. On May 1st, an officer in the Samara oblast shot and injured his wife, before taking his own life after the two had an argument.

    There have also been three driving accidents where officers killed or injured pedestrians with their service automobiles. Another officer, drunk and high on drugs, caused a high-speed chase through Moscow after he refused to stop for an inspection. A fifth accident was caused by a drunk fire-fighter in the Arkhangelsk oblast, who hit two schoolgirls, one of whom died instantly, before he tried to flee the scene.

    An officer in St. Petersburg has meanwhile been accused in a series of sexual assaults against teenage boys. Another St. Petersburg officer from the Russian anti-narcotics service was arrested in something that reads like a Hollywood script. A statement from the agency said the agent would confiscate drugs and money from trafficking suspects, then forcing them to work for him as drug-dealers.

    Finally, an arms trafficker was arrested in Moscow for attempting to sell two handguns to undercover agents. It turns out the dealer used to work as a deputy police chief in the same office as Denis Yevsyukov. Investigators have denied a connection between the two.

    As result of Yevsyukov’s killing spree, a number of high-placed officers have resigned from the Moscow police force.

    Mikhail Sukhodolsky, the deputy minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, admitted on May 14th there was a problem and pledged to reform the agency’s training program.

    “Today we are forced to admit that the training provided to militsiya officers leaves much to be desired,” he told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta in an interview to be published Thursday. “Which is to say that people may not be prepared, both professionally and psychologically, for their mission of defending people.”

    Human rights leader Lev Ponomarev, meanwhile, released a statement on May 14th expressing that in its current form, the militsiya had become a threat to society. To solve this problem, Ponomarev said the whole system must be changed.

    Lev Levinson, an expert from the Institute for Human Rights, agreed. Reforming the professional training was a necessary step, he told the Kasparov.ru online newspaper. Yet changes would be useless if the system of accountability remained unchanged, he said.

    On May 19th, Moscow’s rights organizations are planning to stage demonstration to call for a reform of the militsiya and its abuses of power. A corresponding permit request was filed with city officials on May 7th.


  4. Why not? Russia is extremely cold which is good enough for Winter Olympics. But they should do something about polar bears and resolve that problem once and for all before they apply for anything like the Olimpics. Hungry bears may be very dangerous for tourists from the West.

  5. Don`t worry russophobes! The Winter Olympic games will be happend according to plan. It will be very beautiful games. And all the world`s teams will compete there. It will be the same as at last Eurovision was. Your russophobe`s cry to ignore us won`t be heard by the most of countries in the world. It will be wonderful celebration. But may be someone outlaw pariah like as Georgia now will be “tease Russian dictator” at home.

  6. Pingback: La Russotwitter

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