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Welcome to Russia!

Last week, Russian “Prime Minister” Dima Medvedev published a photograph on Instagram of the new “Ice Palace” in Sochi, Russia, which will be the focal point of the 2014 Winter Games.  The photo showed the palace at the top of a steep hill mounted by an enormous flight of stairs.

In response, a commenter asked Medvedev: “И как люди передвигающиеся на колясках должны преодолевать эти 100500 ступенек?”  In other words, how would a disabled person grapple with such an obstacle.

It was a legitimate question.  All across Russia, disabled citizens face relentless discrimination and a near total lack of accessibility, with stone-faced indifference from most of their fellow citizens.  Such an attitude is flatly barred by the Olympic Charter, which requires accessibility, and in fact Russia is obligated to host the parallel “paralympics” along with the main show, meaning it would play host to dozens of disabled athletes.

When Medvedev did not respond, we followed up with him on Twitter.  We stated:  “You were asked on Instagram how a wheelchair-bound fan would navigate all those stairs. What is your answer?”

Medvedev didn’t respond to us, either. But one “ndennisv” from San Jose, California sure did.  He stated:  “Dumb question. Whoever asked that is a comlete [sic] dimwit. They are supposed to use a ramp or an elevator.”

Welcome to Russia!

Ask an honest question, and get your head bitten off!  In fact, Medvedev’s photograph does not reveal any ramp or elevator which could be used by a handicapped person to circumvent the stairs, so the question was very far from being “dumb.”

After a laborious saga of back-and-forth with “ndennisv” following his gratuitous insult, a saga which included plenty more insults, we finally obtained from him a picture of the Ice Palace showing the area to the left of the stairway, which was not apparent in Medvedev’s photograph.  In this photograph, it can clearly be seen that there are both ramps and elevators available to the disabled to reach the Ice Palace entrance.

Most people, of course, wouldn’t follow up as we did.  Most people, after being ignored and then gratuitously insulted, would simply drop the matter and assume the Ice Palace was just one more example of Russia’s brutal disregard of the interests of its disabled citizens.  And they’d come away, of course, with a pretty bitter attitude towards Russia.

Needless to say, “ndennisv” refused to acknowledge that Russia had any problem whatsoever with its treatment of the disabled.  In fact, he acted like ramps at the Ice Palace prove their are ramps everywhere, in typical neo-Soviet fashion.  What could have been  PR win for Russia, in which “ndennisv” promptly and cordially provided an answer to our question on Medvedev’s behalf, and simultaneously acknowledged that Russia has much more work to do beyond the Ice Palace, turned into a confirmation of all that is thought ill of Russia.

This little exchange is, in other words, Russia in perfect microcosm. It is why Russia has been forced to hire Western PR teams to try to battle against the relentlessly negative images that Russians create for themselves, a battle they cannot hope to win because of Russia’s boundless energy and productivity in this regard.  It illustrates why it was such a mistake for Russians to seek to host the games, which willy give the world that much more opportunity to experience this brutality up close and personal.

Another perfect example is homosexuals. How is it possible that the Kremlin could be so benighted as to fail to recognize that it needed to wait to commence its crackdown on gays until the Olympics and FIFA world cup proceedings had been completed?  By pushing ahead to early, Russians stripped billions of dollars of public relations gold out of their coffers, and turned these expensive events into negatives.  And all this is happening just as the Russian economy heads for a double-dip recession!

Welcome to Russia!

12 responses to “Welcome to Russia!

  1. Awayfromrussia ⋅

    Kim, you made a mistake. The phrase, “Интересно, действительно ли этот ‘дворец’ по стоимости обошелся,как 150 современных спортивных стадионов?” means – Does this palace cost as much as 150 modern stadiums, I wonder?” It has nothing to do with disabled people.

    • larussophobe ⋅

      You’re right, there was a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out! But the mistake was in cutting and pasting the wrong Russian text, not in mis-translating it. We’ve corrected the post. Our question to Medvedev containing the language is here:

  2. F5_Twister ⋅

    I think the question was “И как люди передвигающиеся на колясках должны преодолевать эти 100500 ступенек?”

  3. F5_Twister ⋅

    I didn’t get the logic though. So, a U.S. person from SJ CA instulted you on Tweeter. And now you say: “Welcome to Russia!” …… “This little exchange is, in other words, Russia in perfect microcosm.”……”It illustrates why it was such a mistake for Russians to seek to host the games, which willy give the world that much more opportunity to experience this brutality up close and personal.”? That sounds ridiculous, you know.

    • larussophobe ⋅

      Don’t know where you get the idea that someone named “denisev” is a “U.S. person,” but even if he is sixth generation American (he’s not, he’s Russian), that makes no difference. The point is the he is rabidly defending the Putin regime against any and all perceived “attacks” in a way that is typical of Russia, and the experience we had with him is typical of many people’s experience with Russia. That’s why the Kremlin needs to spend millions hiring Western PR and that’s why foreign direct investment in Russia is so puny.

      And quite frankly, the experience is continuing with you. You seem, in a very Russian fashion, bent on being deliberately blockheaded and refusing to acknowledge what should be obvious, that Russians have a national habit of attacking the messenger (all the way up to and including murder, as in Politkovskaya and Estemirova and many others).

      • Awayfromrussia ⋅

        Kim, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. Kremlin employs special people, they are called “the Internet operators” in Russian (Kremlin bots) that post all kinds of pro-Kremlin and pro-Putin messages on different websites in both Russian and English. I am sure you have somebody working your site as well. The thing that Kremlin DOES NOT get is that those Internet bots are SO DUMB and SO RUDE that it puts people of Russia. Most of them are neo Nazi, and the rest of them are “Nashi” which is even worse. Brainless young idiots that don’t have a life. I mean, everybody hates Russians now, even Russians themselves. Welcome to Putin’s Russia.
        Here is a link for you:

  4. marduk ⋅

    Over there, it’s the law of the jungle, able bodied people are just grasping to keep their heads above destitution, so they can do nothing for their fellow countrymen, much less disabled people. Generally russians prey on each other because they know there is nothing in the ordinary economy for them. You seethe same in any third world country, africa, asia or south america.

    • Awayfromrussia ⋅

      True, and it is very disheartening. I would like to see Russia in the same rank as Canada or Australia. After all, they are capable of achieving more.

      • mccusa ⋅

        Awayfrom Russia; Russia is ONLY capable of creating gulags, Chernobyl and tea with polonium – and stop insulting Canada and Australia by comparing those countries with the Russian Mongolian hordes..

        • Awayfromrussia ⋅

          Not true. Russia is just going through some rough times. Nobody said it will be easy. Maybe in another 50 years or so things will look better.

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