Week One of Competition at Sochi

Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld reviews the first week of Olympic competition at Sochi, Russia, and finds that for every step forward, and there were several big, impressive ones, Russia took five steps back.

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Reviewing the Opening of the Sochi Games

LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has had two pieces this week on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog reviewing the first week of competition at Sochi.  The first essay reviewed the disastrous and humiliating preparations and opening ceremony (and marked Kim’s 100th column for the website) while the second essay addressed the hilariously false claim by Russophile nutjobs that Russia is somehow being singled out for failure this year and that Sochi is a games just like any other.

On the medal front, Russia’s performance has not been among the standouts. The nations who have really distinguished themselves in the first week so far are Germany (which leads the gold medal count with a whopping 6), Norway (which leads the total medal count with 13) and the USA and Netherlands, which both sport double-digit medal counts and achieved the three dominating performances so far, Netherlands taking every place on the medal stand in men’s 500 and 5000 meter speed skating and the USA doing so in men’s slopestyle skiing.  Canada is also threatening to win the total medal count, though its unclear if it can sustain its momentum.

Russia has only two gold medals, one of them coming in the “sport” of team figure skating that was just invented this year and the other in pairs figure skating, and only nine total medals.  However, it did get the one gold it would have wanted if it could get only one so far, returning to glory in pairs skating.

For Russia, the biggest event of the games through the second weekend will come two days from now when it faces off against the USA in ice hockey.  Though the result likely won’t have any decisive impact on the hockey medals, it’s a match Russia desperately wants to win and one that will tell the world a lot about Russia’s chances for gold in hockey, the one medal it wants to win more than any other.

Dark Clouds over Sochi Russia

An article in the Moscow Times about Russia’s security measures in Sochi makes for disturbing reading.

It reports that U.S. National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week:

The biggest issue from my perspective is not the Games themselves, the venues themselves.  There is extensive security at those locations — the sites of the events. The greater threat is to softer targets in the greater Sochi area, in the outskirts beyond Sochi, where there is a substantial potential for a terrorist attack.

So it seems that the anti-Russia terrorists have a horrifying litany of options available to them if they want to avoid the security cordon around the actual Olympics venues in Adler and Krasnaya Polyana:

  1. Attack Sochi-bound traffic in Moscow, far from the Sochi “ring of steel.”
  2. Attack “soft targets” like hotels and restaurants in Sochi itself, just outside the “ring of steel.”
  3. Attack a Russian city left unguarded and previously inaccessible as Russian security forces are diverted en masse to Sochi.

As to the third option, one wonders if the people of Russia were asked whether they’d be willing to sacrifice one of their cities to a Dubrovka or a Beslan in order to keep the Sochi venues safe from harm.

Moreover, the MT reports:  “It seems that Sochi is indeed experiencing problems with accommodating all the security personnel sent to the city. Last month, two police officers from St. Petersburg tried to flee from Sochi, saying that living and working conditions were ‘inhumane,’ Fontanka.ru reported. The news article featured a photograph of two police officers sleeping on the floor in a tiny room.”

So it seems that there are already questions as to how firm the “ring of steel” around the Olympics venues in Sochi actually is.  If security personnel are being forced to live like animals, it’s a safe bet that they are at least a little distracted from their work, and therefore vulnerable.

The security operations are secret, but the general preparations for the games are not, and a recent photo spread in the Washington Post provides disturbing proof of how sloppily the latter are proceeding. The Post shows that stray dogs roam the streets, which are still covered with mud and innumerable construction projects which have not been completed, and that the hotel rooms lack basic amenities such as phones.

If Russia can’t get such simple things right, how likely is it that the security preparations have been flawless?

Russia Beyond the Headlines Pumping out Lies about Sochi

This week the Winter Olympic Games commence in Sochi Russia, and the Kremlin’s propaganda vortex known as Russia Beyond the Headlines is going into overdrive pumping out propaganda designed to twist and pervert the facts about the games in the Kremlin’s favor, hoping to paper over the long list of hideous and embarrassing defects inherent in Russia’s effort as host. Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has all the details.

U.S. to Americans on Sochi: Just Don’t Go.

In a humiliating blow to Russia, the U.S. government has warned Americans not to attend the Sochi Olympic games because of the overwhelming risk that Russia will not be able to protect the games from terrorism and may not be able to deliver proper medical care in the event of a terrorist event.  Coming on the heels of the U.S. announcement that no cabinet-level U.S. official will attend the games, this announcement is devastating to Putin’s prestige.  Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld reports the details.

Russia and its “Danger Games”

Cynics on Russia though we may be, not even we dared to dream that Russia could humiliate itself so badly in the conduct of the Winter Olympics before the Games ever even started.  We always thought the event itself might collapse in failure, both on the playing field and off, but we never imagined Russia could drag the games into such a miasma of failure during the mere preparations.

Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has all the horrifying details.  All the terror you possibly could ask for, just in time for Halloween (which, by the way, Russia is now trying to ban).

Exposing Putin’s Online Propaganda Machine

Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker website, LR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld reveals how the Putin propaganda machine is switching into overdrive to deluge the world with lies about the Sochi Olympics.

There’s great need for these lies, of course, since the truth is so very painful.

Within the past few days alone, the world has gaped slack-jawed as the oafish Russians have repeatedly allowed the Olympic flame to flicker out, and Russia’s woeful efforts to complete the Olympic venues are equally laughable (despite reportedly costing as much as billion dollars, the central stadium is still not close to being ready).  Dozens of U.S. congressmen are openly calling for protests against Russia’s barbaric crackdown on homosexuals to occur at the games. In short, Russia’s attempt to host the games is an absurd fiasco, underlined by the total insanity of staging the games in a tropical beach resort that is surrounded by outraged terrorist groups.

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!

Putin walks Russia into a Gay Buzzsaw

Vladimir Putin’s proud assault on homosexual Russians is surely one of the lowest moments in Russian history, and for a country as woefully wretched as Russia, that’s saying quite a lot.

Barack Obama, who started out his term in office offering Russia a “reset” of relations in Russia’s favor, is now so disgusted with Putin that not only has he refused to meet personally with Putin during the upcoming G-20 summit which Russia is hosting in St. Petersburg, he’s going to meet instead with a group of LGBT activists who oppose Putin.  This is an unprecedented humiliation inflicted on a Russian head of state.

International attention is even more humiliating for Russia.  A big story in the Washington Post points out that Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov, a leading figure in Russia’s cultural history, was bisexual.  The Huffington Post trashed a Russian biopic on Pyotr Tchaikovsky for ignoring the fact that he was gay.  The list of additional utterly humiliating stories that may appear in the future about the long line of famous gay Russians is virtually endless, from Nikolai Gogol to Tsar Ivan IV (“the Terrible”).

The gay crackdown has whipsawed back in Putin’s face over the Winter Olympics Putin plans to stage in Sochi in a few months.  A furious boycott of major Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola is now underway worldwide, as well as a boycott of Russian vodka, and there is no telling how many utterly humiliating anti-Russian demonstrations may take place at the Sochi games by gay and gay-friendly athletes.  Russia stands to take the worst and most humiliating beating of any Olympic host in world history given the prevalence of social media.

Putin has stammered and muttered in response. His most recent interview on the subject, where he babbles gibberish and implies that foreigners will get special treatment under Russian law during the Olympics that Russians will not get, ought to embarrass and outrage every Russian citizen.

Putin’s ham-handed handling of the gay rights issue shows how badly his ability to rule the nation has deteriorated, right along with the Russian economy which as we recently reported now stands on the brink of a double-dip recession.