EDITORIAL: Red Russian Blood on the White Sochi Snows


Red Russian Blood on the White Sochi Snows

If the Russian speed-skating team wins a medal at the Sochi Olympiad in 2014, Italy will bend its neck and be decorated, because the coach of the Russian team is Italian.  Russia’s curling medal, if any, will go the team’s Canadian coach, its short-track medal, should there be one, will go to the Korean coach, and any biathalon medal will go to a German.

So even before Russian athletes step into the cold in 2014, they’ll already have admitted they at they can’t win without massive foreign assistance.  But the chances that Russia will win in Sochi — or even make the top 10 — are remote indeed.

Not all Russian teams will be led by non-Russians.  For instance the men’s hockey team is not — and at the recent world championships that squad was denied any medal and was crushed in two games in the medal rounds by tiny countries whose resources are not remotely comparable to those of Russia.

So it’s clear why Russia has so many foreign coaches.

There’s no mistaking results:  Russia placed 11th in the gold medal count at the last Olympiad (in 2010), 6th overall. Many Russians dismissed this horrifying collapse as a glitch, but  then at the world championships this year Russia was also 11th on the gold medal tally, and again tied for sixth overall — but its medal count slipped by one in each category.  To have a chance of even being in the top three at Sochi, Russia will have to triple its gold medal count from 2010 and more than quadruple it from this year.  Nobody thinks that is going to happen, at least not with Russians coaching.

So Russia is desperately throwing money at foreign coaches and hoping they can save Russia from disaster.  But even if they somehow manage to do it, and even if the world forgets that they are not Russians, this won’t mean a successful Olympiad for Russia.

News stories are already beginning to percolate about Sochi’s horrific past — more than two years before the games actually unfold.  From Estonia to Circassia,  the world learns more every day about the revolting Russian atrocities that have played out in the region for centuries, including genocide. Worse than this humiliation for Russia, though, it is what it portends — egregious acts of violence by affected ethnic groups to punish Russia for the indignity it seeks to inflicts upon them by roiling their sacred lands.

And there are other reports, like a recent scathing op-ed in the New York Times condemning the Russian justice system over the Khodorkovsky show trial even as Amnesty International labeled Khodorkovsky a prisoner of conscience, placing him in the same category as Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov.   Such attention to Russian failure and outrage will only grow and grow as the games approach. By the time they are staged, this will be the world’s only focus.  Russia simply does not have the PR skills or ammunition to overcome this tsunami of bad press.

Russia’s reputation is so ghastly that South Korea, which lost out for the bidding on 2014, is still building its proposed Olympics venues, doing so in the belief that the world will ultimately come to its senses and divest Russia of the games.

We strongly back divestment, although on balance we think our own objectives would be better served by having Russia stage the games, because our fear of the risk to human life in Sochi is so great. But even if there are no terrorism events, the appalling cost in money to a country so impoverished and the chilling cost in PR humiliation to a country already so reviled in the world, mean that the Sochi games are a no-win proposition for Putin’s Russia. Because of that, and because of Putin’s terrifying crackdown on civil society and his wanton aggression against Georgia, we call for the games to be moved to South Korea before it is too late.

32 responses to “EDITORIAL: Red Russian Blood on the White Sochi Snows

  1. Steamed McQueen

    Of course should Russia fail to win gold with these foreign coaches, it is they (the coaches) who will take the blame.

    So typically Russian: In any situation where the desired result is not achieved the very first thing Russians do is find an individual to blame.

    ‘It was the coaches fault. Our Russian athletes are the best in the world!’

    ehhh… Okay… Whatever…

  2. May 19, 2011

    Within the space of two days, Chechen courts have ruled on compensation to be paid to the mothers of two women who died — albeit in very different circumstances — as a result of the ongoing low-level hostilities in Chechnya.

    It will come as little surprise that the compensation paid for the killing of a female member of the Russian armed forces was almost 17 times higher than that paid for the death of a Chechen civilian in a still-unsolved mortar attack.

    The Chechen Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by the Urus-Martan municipal court that the Russian Defense Ministry should pay 500,000 rubles ($17,802) to the mother of a contract servicewoman killed inadvertently by a fellow serviceman carelessly handling a firearm.

    By contrast, Grozny’s Lenin district court ruled on May 18 that Ruman Kosumova, the mother of Raisa Kosumova, a Chechen woman killed by mortar fire while returning by car to her home village of Kharachoi in Vedeno Raion, is entitled to just 30,000 rubles ($1,068) in compensation.

    Ruman Kosumova went to court more than once to protest decisions by the Vedeno prosecutor’s office to end the investigation into the circumstances of her daughter’s death. It has still not been determined which military unit opened fire and killed Raisa after a police car was destroyed in an attack by Chechen militants.


  3. Georgia’s parliament is moving closer to stating officially that Russia’s expulsion of the Circassian people from their homeland in the 19th century was an act of genocide. If it does so, the move is certain to do more damage to an already troubled relationship with Moscow, which rejects this description of the historical events.

    Parliament began its consideration of the issue on May 13 by hearing an expert report by Merab Chukhua, a professor at Tbilisi’s Javakhishvili State University. Chukhua recommended that legislators acknowledge that Russian imperial action against the Circassians qualified as genocide.

    He said the evidence available indicated that from 1763 to 1864, “the political and military leadership of the Russian Empire thoroughly planned and implemented ethnic cleansing of Circassian territories”. A 20 per cent loss in population over this period of conquest meant the term “genocide” was justified, he added.

    Chukhua said more than 90 per cent of Circassians were killed or expelled from their homeland, while Russians and Cossacks were systematically settled in these areas.

    Around five million Circassians now live outside the northwest Caucasus, mainly in Turkey, and only a million still live in what was their homeland until Russia began its southward expansion.


    Also in the mix is the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place in Sochi, part of the Circassian’s heartland before they were driven out from Black Sea coastal areas. Some Circassian organisations have protested against the games being located here. Sochi is also close to Russia’s border with Abkhazia.

    Tsiklauri denied a direct connection between the winter games and the genocide debate, although Georgian deputy prime minister Giorgi Baramidze said in November that Russia did not deserve the Olympics because of its past policies in the North Caucasus.

    “I don’t think the Olympic movement has much to do with the murder of hundreds of thousands of people in the North Caucasus, in Chechnya and elsewhere,” he said. “Sochi, as you well know, is very close to the border with Georgia, and [Abkhazia] is under illegal occupation.”

    • @A 20 per cent loss in population over this period of conquest meant the term “genocide” was justified, he added.

      Actually commiting genocide, according to the UN definition, may even not invovle killing anyone at all. But that’s a detail.


      • you better discuss the USian genocide of native Indians, Mexicans, and Japanese.

        • The Japanese massacred 15 million Asian and South Pacific civilians in cold blood, from Sakhalin to Burma to Papua. Of course, they’re exempt from any condemnation for their WWII atrocities…

        • What genocide of the Japanese?

          And the difference is that the US government and people are sorry for historic crimes, unlike you Russians, who either deny them, or glorify the culprits.

          BTW, the Georgian government has recognised the Russian crimes against humanity in the late 19th C as genocide, to general acclaim of the Circassian diaspora

          Georgia Recognizes Russian ‘Genocide’ Of Ethnic Circassians

          May 20, 2011
          Lawmakers in Georgia have recognized the mass deportation and killings of ethnic Circassians by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century as genocide.

          Parliament said on May 20 that ethnic cleansing and pre-planned massacres of Muslim Circassians had taken place in the Sochi area of southern Russia.

          The Russian army deported the Circassian tribes to Turkey after winning a war in the Caucasus that ended 147 years ago on Saturday.

          “The majority of Circassians perished and the rest had no alternative but to flee the country,” said Nugzar Tsiklauri, the head of a Georgian parliamentary committee for relations with diasporas.

          “Just a small part of the population stayed in Russia and as a result a number of ethnic groups disappeared from the world arena. Thus, actions undertaken by the Russian Empire could be classified as genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

          The move has been welcomed by members of the Circassian diaspora.

          “Today is a very significant day for all Circassians inside the Caucasus and outside the Caucasus,” Iyad Youjahar from the Circassian diaspora in the United States told Reuters.

          “This is the day when the crimes against the Circassians for the past 140 years have started to stop. And we have hopes that, from today on, we will continue positively in the future and we will continue constructing and reconstructing our nation Circassia in the Caucasus.”


        • What about the WWII Japanese genocide of Chinese, Thais, Laotians, Vietnamese, Burmese, Filipinos, Papuans, Malays, et al?

          • Agree!!!

          • Stopped by the Allied (US-led) military forces, Japanese Empire utterly destroyed in the process.

            • Bobby, you’re living in an delusionary world of USian propaganda. I bet you believe the greatest battle of the WWII was II el Alamein oк D-Day and that USians took Berlin, and than that the moon landing was the first man in space:)

              I bet you have to just compare the numbers of Japanese soldiers beaten by Russians you hate so much and by the USia, and then reconsider your opinion about sincerity of the USian mass media.

              Though if you count civilian Japanese murdered, USia will always be first, of course.

    • I despise Russia, but I don’t necessarily share this blog’s sympathy with Islam and Muslims. I actually consider Russian Orthodoxy a kind of Islamized version of Christianity, in spite of its idolatry; like Islam, it is intrinsically imperialist and murderous.

  4. Hiring foreign coaches has been an honoured and wise tradition throughout the civilized world. But the Soviet Union never practiced it, because it was a closed, undemocratic country. Let’s rejoice that modern Russia is open to the world and hires foreign coaches when needed.

    For example, Canada is the dominant force in curling, while Russia first learned of it only recently. The only way for Russia to become great at curling is to hire a foreign coach.

    That’s what USA did in Gymnastics and Figure Skating: hire Russian and Romanian coaches.

    • I’d suggest the Russians to, for example, try and drop the number of homeless people in Moscow well below 14% (the official figure via RIAN, so the real one may be even higher), before trying to “to become great at curling”.

      • In other words, only wealthy countries and people should play sports? Nice idea.

        • Maimuni,

          Again you missed the point. Go back to English classes to enhance your comprehension and understanding of this language, so that you stop making an ass of yourself with your irrelevant replies.

          You’d make more sense telling us the price of eggs in your beloved Cyprus.

          • @Bohdan,

            I would gladly reply to you, but, as always, I have no idea what you are talking about. For example, what gave you the idea that I love Cyprus and even live there?

            • Maimuni,

              “what gave you the idea that I love Cyprus and even live there?” to answer your question, I’ll have to make a small adjustment so that this the above will read as follows; “what gave me the idea that I love Cyprus and even live there?”

              Simply the substandard level of your written comments, which leave a lot to be desired. If you lived in the USA, I would venture to add that you must be from the “Ozark Mountains.”

  5. The Caucasus Dark Circle
    01 June 2011
    By Andrei Piontkovsky


    The Russian authorities have recently begun showing off the massive security measures being implemented ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. They have good reason to be worried — and not only for the safety of athletes and spectators.

    The violence in the North Caucasus is becoming less a serious regional conflict and more an existential threat to the entire country, an evolution that reflects almost all of the mistakes, failures and crimes of the post-Soviet leadership.

    Two horrific wars with local separatists — in 1994-96 and 1999-2006 — have been fought over Chechnya, presumably to secure Russia’s territorial integrity. Russians fought these wars to demonstrate to the Chechens that they, too, were citizens of the same country. Moscow did so by destroying Chechen cities and villages with artillery shells and aerial bombardment, as well as abducting, torturing and killing civilians. It should surprise no one that the Chechens — and other peoples of the Caucasus — do not feel very Russian.

    In reality, Russia has lost the war against the Chechen separatists. The winner was Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, one of the field commanders in the fighting. Ostensibly, he is an appointee of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but in reality he is virtually independent of the Kremlin, which pays him substantial financial support not only for his formal declaration of loyalty, but also for his public embrace of Putin.

    The war against separatism in the North Caucasus has now evolved into the war against Islamic fundamentalism. Ignited by the violence of the Chechen wars, Islamist-sponsored terrorism has spread widely in the region as Russian policies, similar to those during the Chechen war, increase the number of Islamic radicals.

    President Dmitry Medvedev, for example, has called for extremists to be “burned to ashes.” He also called for terrifyingly broad punishment, including of those “washing linen and preparing soup for terrorists.” Given the morality of federal forces, Medvedev should have understood that such rhetoric could result only in a significant increase in brutality and extrajudicial killings all over the North Caucasus.

    The resulting mayhem has served only to spawn new suicide bombers willing to bring fresh terror to Russia’s heartland. Indeed, the paradox today is that Islamic extremists seem to be losing influence in the Arab world while strengthening their position in the North Caucasus, where the Kremlin has fought a 12-year war without understanding the scope of the tragedy taking place: a civil and ethnic war for which the Kremlin itself bears significant responsibility.

    After all, the tribute that the Kremlin pays Kadyrov and the corrupt elites of the other Caucasus republics has purchased palaces and gold pistols for men who are driving the region’s young, unemployed and disadvantaged down the path of Islamic revolution. Across the North Caucasus, a generation has grown up absolutely lost to Russia — and increasingly susceptible to recruitment into the ranks of Allah’s warriors.

    A nearly unbridgeable mental gap now separates Russians and Caucasus natives. Young nationalists are fond of marching though the streets of Moscow and other cities carrying anti-Caucasus banners, perceiving themselves as being on the winning side in the region.

    In the hearts and minds of people on both sides, Russians and Caucasus natives are becoming increasingly alienated from each other. But neither the Kremlin nor its North Caucasus allies are ready for formal separation. Russia remains wedded to its phantom imperial illusions about a “zone of privileged interests” extending far beyond its borders, while Chechnya, starting with Kadyrov, is ruled by independent autocrats happy to accept handouts from the federal budget.

    The irony is that, like the Kremlin and its allies, the Islamic fundamentalists do not want to separate. They dream about a caliphate that would include much more of Russia than the North Caucasus.

    Recently, Medvedev convened a large public meeting in Vladikavkaz. He accused anonymous enemies — presumably including Western governments — of pursuing an agenda to destroy Russia, and he encouraged his security officials to push back. In Medvedev’s mental universe, savage reprisals today will somehow turn the North Caucasus into a zone of international ski tourism tomorrow.

    That is not likely to happen. The day after Medvedev’s departure from Vladikavkaz, terrorists blew up the ski lifts at the resort in Nalchik, not far from Sochi, where much more will be at stake for Russia in 2014 than winning medals.

    • @Two horrific wars with local separatists — in 1994-96 and 1999-2006 — have been fought over Chechnya, presumably to secure Russia’s territorial integrity. Russians fought these wars to demonstrate to the Chechens that they, too, were citizens of the same country. Moscow did so by destroying Chechen cities and villages with artillery shells and aerial bombardment, as well as abducting, torturing and killing civilians. It should surprise no one that the Chechens — and other peoples of the Caucasus — do not feel very Russian.

      Complaint of 75 Chechen victims of 1999 bombing sent to ECtHR

      May 27 2011, 23:40


      The complaint, prepared by the Committee Against Torture, was forwarded to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg on behalf of 75 applicants from Chechnya. They include both close relatives of the casualties and the persons who were seriously injured as a result of the missile attack and bombing of the village of Elistanzhi, Vedeno District of the Chechen Republic, by Russian Air Forces on October 7, 1999.

      The Committee Against Torture reports, in its statement that has arrived at the “Caucasian Knot”, that this complaint with 75 applicants is the record one, ever submitted from Chechnya by the number of victims in one case.

      The bombing on October 7, 1999, destroyed the Elistanzhi rural school and plenty of private households. The missile-and-bomb strike led to a large number of civilian casualties among the villagers. The total number of victims of the bombing was at least 95 persons – 35 casualties and 60 wounded.

      The list of casualties includes 10 children aged from infants to 14 years of age, and 7 persons aged 61 and older. Among those wounded, as of the time of the tragedy, 23 persons were children aged from infants to 14.

      The victims and witnesses of the bombing indicate in their evidences that at the moment of the attack the village of Elistanzhi had no military objects or facilities that could have been taken for military ones; and during the attack on the village the weather was clear, and the aircrafts were clearly visible from the ground.

      The version that the attack was carried out by Russian warplanes was the only one considered by investigatory bodies of the Russian Federation. They never denied the involvement of Russia’s Air Forces in bombing Elistanzhi on October 7, 1999, the Committee Against Torture reports.

      Human rights activists point out that the inquiry history of this criminal case is a chain of suspensions and resumptions of the investigation with a vain attempt to convey the inquiry into the hands of the system of military justice. To date, the criminal investigation remains unfinished. A number of residents were nominated as victims by the inquiry; evidences were taken from victims and witnesses about the circumstances of the bombing; medical examinations were carried out; however, those suspected of committing a crime were not established; charges of causing deaths and injuries to civilian residents of the village were not presented to anyone; and nobody was brought to criminal liability.

  6. AT ,
    If there is a cretin on this site , it is undoubtedly : you ! You are even
    to stupid to copy Bohdan’s name properly . Typical of a under
    developed , vodka soaked , half literate katsap ! Like Scweinschwantz
    and the other moscovite trash , that polute this site pretending NOT
    to be moscovites , in hopes that this would give their moscovite
    promoting , statements credibility .

    • Maxim, what’s wrong with spelling Bogdan as Bogdan?

      • In Maksym’s world it’s unpatriotic to be called like your parents called you. It’s unpatriotic to speak the language of your mother, and pray in the same church as she did. Otherwise ou would be called a Russophile.

  7. It is nice to read a blog that offers such clear topics, especially whenmost articles are garbage. A ton of details to consider. I really feel like people should send you cash for your great content. Is there anything else I might look at to learn more about this topic?

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