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Putin Scores Gold With Sochi Miracle

Published: February 21, 2014 (Issue # 1798)


President Vladimir Putin won admiring looks from athletes and skeptical smirks from the international media when he fulfilled his dream of opening the Winter Olympics. The public debate over the Sochi Games compares only to the political battle that raged prior to the Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980. But this is nothing unusual. Large countries always elicit strong emotions.

Also by this author: Russia Must Stop U.S. Aggression

The main question in the debate about these Olympics has been whether Russia would be capable of hosting them. Putin has repeatedly said that his main objective in securing the hosting rights was to infuse optimism into a country that has endured three difficult decades starting with 1980s perestroika. Now Russians are in dire need of the drive born of victory and positive achievement. This also explains Russia's continued interest in World War II: Russians draw strength from that victory of 70 years ago to meet today's challenges. A great celebration awaits Russia in 2015, the anniversary of the Nazi defeat, and it will be at least as great as the Olympics in Sochi.

Putin cares about Russia's image, not in the eyes of the West but in the eyes of his own electorate. He wants to instill a sense of Russia's greatness in them, not in foreign observers.

Also by this author: How Russia and EU Can Build a Greater Europe

Russia can and has made a great Winter Olympics. It can also create a modern and developed society and a high-tech economy. This is what motivates the intense criticism of the Sochi Games. Influential outsiders do not want to admit that Russia has overcome its domestic crises and is progressing along a path of development. They want to stop Russia.

Putin is well aware of this and was therefore prepared for a major campaign opposing the Games. But paradoxically, the groundless accusations leveled against the Olympics has only outraged Russians and reinforced their patriotism.

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Times Talk

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.