1. Sam says

    Excellent report from a reporter for the Global Post, a top-notch newspaper.

    Mr. West, I would appreciate it if in your future reports you would cover harassment and detention of local and foreign media, and the extent to which it is or is not possible for tourists to mingle with the Sochi population. Also, it would be good to hear more about the role of the Cossacks in providing security. Why are they there? They have no special expertise or training in security at an event like this. Did Russia train them? And as extreme nationalists, how are they interacting with their foreign guests?

    As for the “ring of steel” it may be impregnable. But the Dagestanis and the Chechens don’t need to penetrate it to ruin the Olympics. If they can get anywhere close, they can create a ring of terror around the ring of steel, creating a siege mentality within the venue. That would be a victory for them.

  2. Keith says

    I know I will be crucified for this comment, but on one hand I hope the Olympic games are a success, especially for the athletes who have spent almost their entire lives preparing for this moment.

    Part of being in a global society is learning and experiencing other cultures, other beliefs, other ways of living, and other ways of viewing life. It does not, for a moment, mean I do not support the LGBT population of Russia and continue to strive to overturn the odious propaganda law. But one does not change hearts and minds by punishing the innocent residents of Sochi (even if they do support the harm being inflicted upon their fellow LGBT residents); one changes hearts by being exposed to new people, new ideas, and new realities (and this includes residents seeing and hearing LGBT people who are as ordinary as they are in every facet of their lives.

    My fervent hope is that we continue to fight for our global rights through dialogue, living by example, and fostering human interaction (as well as the occasional kick to the pocketbook of the bigots).

    That may be polly-annish to many, but that’s how it worked my conservative neighborhood when my husband and I moved in here in California. Everyone had voted for PropH8 when it came out, but after getting to know us, every one of them has said they regret their vote and would gladly take it back if they could. To me, that’s how victories are won. . .not by stooping to the lowest denominator of the opposing side (and yes, there are lots of lowest denominators on the other side).

  3. Hansel Currywurst says

    What they need is some gays to spruce-up the place, and maybe a few Home Depot Lesbians to finish the construction work. Too bad they don’t have any of those according to the mayor. Because Putin says so.

  4. Will G. says

    This is insane, what a big f’nnn mess.

    On top of the numerous reasons SOCHI should never have been awarded the Olympics, 50 Billion spent for this? It’s a dump.

    Dbl toilets aside, the idea of 40,000 security forces and warships to “protect” the visitors and athletes. What a waste of resources. The IOC might have just as well given it to Afghanistan.

    Does anyone really want to put themselves through this? I also heard ticket sales are not selling and it is easy to see why. Who would want to go to this hell hole?

    The rampant corruption and shop shod construction to get these glamorous hotels? Don’t even start me on gathering up and killing all the local dogs?

    This does not look good for Mr Putin.

  5. John Roberts says

    Keith, while I admire your optimism and believe it was very well served during the Prop 8 days, I cannot get excited about the Olympics this year. This is Putin’s Olympics and only exists to pump up his machismo image. The corruption and hypocrisy of the IOC, the overt commercialism, athletes who are actually professional, among other things just do not make it appealing to me anymore.

    If others choose to partake and enjoy this, than that is great for them.

  6. cminca says

    It really doesn’t matter what does or does not happen at this Olympics.

    Mr. Putin will declare it a major success.

    The only difference between Putin/Russia and any tin-pot dictator/banana republic is size.

  7. Caliban says

    I don’t think Putin is going to get the public relations coup he was hoping for. So far most of the coverage I’ve seen is about how Ill prepared Sochi is for the games.

    Poor Putin. He’s like Carrie at the prom. They’re all going to laugh at you!

  8. tinkerbelle says

    @Cminca and Caliban: spot on.

    From what I’ve seen of the architecture and what they’ve done to the surrounding area, it’s just horrible and tacky. Or horrible because it’s tacky. No culture present here.I thank my lucky stars that I wasn’t born in Russia.

    Of course, this is just a really shallow comment.

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