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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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