The 2014 Winter Olympics are just about to start after years of misery for Russia. In a town with a subtropical climate and palm trees many scratched their heads at the thought of snow and ice. After $50 billion was spent, with an estimated third of that pocketed by corrupt individuals, the games are set to begin. Weather reports are already stating that the outdoor events should be a disaster.
Waves of international controversy have surrounded the games themselves recently. An “anti-gay propaganda” law has caused quite the uproar and rightfully so. Western European leaders are set to miss the Olympics, as well as the United States President and senior United States’ leaders. The United States has chosen to send many former gay athletes as delegates, including Billie Jean King, Caitlin Cahow, and Brian Boitano. The gesture is seen as a sleight by the United States to Russia. Putin has now attempted to tell the world that no gay individuals visiting will be persecuted and that the law is simply to reinforce Russian culture and morals. However, he would have never made this a law just before the games if he didn’t plan to create controversy.
Russia, which is controlled almost solely today by Putin, has done many other terrible things. Many reports of individual’s houses being demolished then receiving little to no compensation have come forward. Additionally, many workers have been left unpaid now for long periods of time. Russia, of course, promises to pay these individuals, but with many of them are deported once they cause too much noise and it is very unlikely they will ever see a dime.
However, Putin did recently pardon a political prisoner of ten years, Mikhail Khodorovsky, which is seen as more of a public relations stunt than anything else. Khodorovsky’s billions of dollars of wealth, prior to being arrested, are not expected to be returned. Chechnya does not look to be cooperating well either, with terrorist threats made continuously; many visitors and athletes are quite nervous. Although Russia has caused Chechnya much pain, we can hope that terrorists will not strike and injure the innocent.
Putin should be quite proud of himself, that is if he wanted to prove to the world just how unstable his country is. After going over budget by more than $38 billion, and what looks to be a lack of snow, his games will quite possibly be a flop. Thankfully, Putin has been fair to those who want to protest. He has opened a protest zone about seven miles away from Sochi, and only approval from the police, mayor’s office, and Federal Security Service of Russia are required.
The 14th anniversary of the Communist Party “giving up” monopoly power was last Friday, which happened to fall on the same day as the opening ceremony for the games. Unfortunately for Russians, they are still ruled by those same Communist Party leaders. Putin’s credibility, if it was not already poor, has reached an all-time low, and most likely more controversy will be stirred up in the coming weeks of the games. I believe it is safe to say – Russia has already lost these games.