Vladimir Putin Hub

Tilda Swinton: To Call Putin Russia's 'Gayest President Ever' is Offensive to the Gay Community


Tilda Swinton, who showed solidarity with the gay community last July by standing in Red Square with a rainbow flag, is asked about that moment in a SXSW interview with The Daily Beast.

Says Swinton:

"Well, Russia has the gayest president ever. No, that’s an offensive thing to say—not to him, but to the gay community."

Swinton has some additional insights about gay people:

"Well, I think there’s something that gay people have. It is true that to pass through the transitions that gay people have to in order to come out to themselves, to their families when they’re quite young, it’s a grow-bag, isn’t it? And I think that very often, heterosexual people miss out on that. There’s a feeling of development and sometimes, heterosexual people have never had to go through that self-examination and just knowing themselves, and that sense of coming out, coming to your own defense, and being your own best advocate, and going, “No! I’m going to stand by myself and say this is who I am and you can all fuck off.” That is a wonderful transition to go through, and I suppose a lot of straight people miss out on that, and then maybe their relationship choices are potentially less examined. They could be lazier or less thoroughly thought-through."

Shirtless Obama Stands Up to Putin with the Help of Liam Neeson in SNL Cold Open: VIDEO


In SNL's cold open, Liam Neeson arrived to help the President of the United States speak to Vladimir Putin in a language he can understand.


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Jon Stewart Blasts FOX News for Buying Putin's B.S.: VIDEO


Jon Stewart is incredulous over FOX News' drooling over Vladimir Putin's false machismo and the network's idiotic new talking point aimed at our president:

"Barack Obama is a weak, mom jeans-wearing dictator king!"


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'RT' Anchor Quits On-Air, Says She Can No Longer Be 'Part of a Network That Whitewashes' Putin's Actions - VIDEO


Liz Wahl, a news anchor for RT, the state-funded Russian TV network, resigned on-air today over the situation in Ukraine, saying she could no longer be "part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin."


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What Putin Really Wants with Crimea

Russian helicopters enter Ukrainian airspace near Sevastopol - see video, AFTER THE JUMP...


Western countries must act decisively for any hope of rolling back Moscow's incursion.

Now that Russia has carried out a de facto invasion of Crimea, it’s worth looking at recent history to help understand Moscow’s motivations and what it wants.

UkraineNot that the Kremlin necessarily sees what it’s doing as an invasion. When Soviet troops occupied Afghanistan in 1979 after killing the president, Moscow treated the operation almost as an afterthought aimed at shoring up a coup d’etat it thought would be resolved within days or weeks.

Just as Soviet troops wore Afghan army uniforms 25 years ago, the removal of insignia from the uniforms of the soldiers now in Crimea is meant to confuse the outside world about who’s behind the incursion.

So was the Kremlin’s statement on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his government to continue talks with Ukraine on economic and trade relations and consult the International Monetary Fund and the G8 on financial aid.

The movement of Russian armored personnel carriers, helicopter gunships and troops into Crimea — where gunmen have seized parliament, government buildings and strategic infrastructure like airports and the local telecom provider — belies the Kremlin’s denial it’s carrying out a coup.

Violating the sovereignty of an independent country would seem to go against the principle Russia upholds as most sacred in its foreign policy. Nevertheless, Moscow is taking advantage of Ukraine’s weak new leaders — whom many Russian officials have denounced as illegitimate — acting according to a very basic pattern carried out many times since the Soviet collapse.

Time and again, Moscow has welcomed instability in another former Soviet republic — when not actually fomenting it — in order to exert influence there by appearing to be a peacemaker or beneficent sponsor.

That’s how the Kremlin controls the breakaway pro-Moscow region of Transnistria, an impoverished sliver of Moldova that erupted in a brutal civil conflict in 1992. With its so-called peacekeepers still stationed there, Russia uses its influence over the territory to pressure the Moldovan authorities.

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia to firm its hold over that country’s two pro-Russia separatist provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which the Kremlin recognized as independent soon after.

Those areas have become “frozen conflict” zones — isolated from the world, locked in cycles of poverty that makes dependence on Russia the only immediate way to survive.

PutinIn Ukraine, having lost the struggle last week to save the presidency of his ally, the former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych — in what Moscow characterizes as an illegal takeover by violent nationalists — Putin is now grabbing Crimea to show Russia can do the same. Taking over Crimea would have the added benefit of relieving Moscow of the need to lease the port of Sevastopol to house the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet.

It’s all being done in the name of protecting Russian citizens — the parliament in Moscow just made it easier to give Ukrainians Russian citizenship — and may end up creating another Russian exclave.

Nevertheless, Putin has previously shown that he responds to obstacles by backtracking, having built his power base at home as well as his aggressive foreign policy by taking risks and gauging the response. Faced with a backlash, he has reversed himself in the past.

Russia’s success in Georgia — where the 2008 invasion followed actions similar to the ones Moscow is taking now, such as staging military exercises on its southern border — showed Putin Western countries will do virtually nothing to help their allies in former Soviet territory.

Part of the reason Europe and the United States have been caught off guard by Putin in Crimea, as they have been elsewhere so many times recently, is that they tend to assume he makes decisions in his country’s interests, like his Western counterparts. That’s not the case. Putin makes decisions that are in his interests: Threatening to direct nuclear missiles at Western Europe, for example, is bad for Russia’s image abroad, but at home it shows Putin to be tough.

Of course a secure, independent, successful Ukraine would benefit Russia greatly by providing a strong ally and trade partner. That’s not what Putin wants, and his actions in Ukraine are posing the West its biggest challenge since he invaded Georgia.

He has helped push Ukraine, the country on Russia's southern border, to the verge of civil war by pressuring the president to abandon a deal with the European Union while warning the West not to meddle. Surely that’s not in Russia’s interests, but it is in Putin’s: He wants Ukraine to join a so-called Eurasian Union, an organization whose main purpose would be to oppose Western alliances.

Putin’s overriding goal is to obstruct the West. Like his Soviet models, he believes that to be feared and loathed means to be respected. Still, Western countries still hope Moscow will cooperate on Syria, Iran — and now Ukraine — even though doing so plays right into the Kremlin’s hands.

That’s why the best hope of rolling back Russia’s intervention in Crimea now rests on firmness about the consequences. If Western countries are to uphold their values and interests, they must show they’ve learned lessons from the Russia-Georgia war by acting together to threaten sanctions against Moscow and aid to Ukraine.

Dealing with Moscow should begin with not being deceived about Putin’s intentions. As long as his actions in Crimea result in no direct consequences for him, he will continue trying to show the world just what a tough guy he is.

A video of helicopters entering Ukrainian airspace, AFTER THE JUMP...

Gregory Feifer is GlobalPost's Europe editor. His new book "Russians: The People Behind the Power" was published this month.

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Why Didn’t More Olympians Speak Out in Sochi Against Russia’s Anti-gay Laws?

German olympians

With the constant stream of athletes, politicians, and companies speaking out strongly against Russia’s oppressive anti-gay laws in the months leading up to the Olympics, you might have thought that Russian authorities would have their hands full dealing with up-in-arms activists once the Games actually began.

Unfortunately for the LGBT citizens of Russia, the public criticism from Olympic athletes was, for the most part, muted in Sochi. The Wall Street Journal reports:  

There were no high-profile proactive statements or blatant symbolic gestures by athletes. A few athletes criticized the law when asked by reporters to weigh in, and a Belgian performer who supports gay rights displayed rainbow colors, a symbol of the gay-rights movement, during her performance at the Games.

LuxuriaBut the only really noticeable pro-gay act inside Olympic Park came when Italian Vladimir Luxuria [pictured], a transgender gay rights activist, showed up at a women's hockey game in a rainbow skirt after broadcasting that she planned a protest. Police removed her from the park. A day earlier police detained her briefly after she unfurled a "gay is okay" banner outside the park.

So what happened?

Ashley wagnerThe paper points to the many athletes who said they had already gone on record against the anti-gay laws and felt that using the Olympic platform to promote a political or human rights cause would be an unnecessary distraction from the competition.

"I really have already voiced my opinion and spoken out," said U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner [pictured], responding to questions from reporters. Wagner has been outspoken in her criticism of the Russian laws. "My stand against the LGBT legislation here in Russia is really the most that I can do right now," she said. "I'm here to compete first and foremost."

How athletes in Sochi handled concerns over gay rights varied. Belle Brockhoff, the gay Olympic snowboarder who had promised to “rip on [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] ass” during Sochi interviews, failed to medal and was given minimal press coverage. Gay former Olympian Johnny Weir’s decision to work the Games for NBC but not directly address gay rights in Russia was met with scorn from gay rights groups in the U.S. The German team, meanwhile, debuted a rather gay-looking rainbow outfit for the Games [pictured above], but maintained a steadfast denial that it was meant as a protest statement against Russia's anti-gay laws. Other athletes felt that wearing the 'Principle 6' line of protest merchandise was the proper avenue for Olympians to (indirectly) speak out for LGBT rights. 

Billie jean king_2Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who was among the gay athletes in President Obama’s Olympic delegation, said she supported athletes’ decision to avoid public demonstrations that could get them booted, but disagreed that the Olympics isn’t a place for politics. 

"It is an unbelievable opportunity to exchange ideas and hear each other," she said, standing on a hotel balcony just outside Olympic Park. "Hopefully, out of all these athletes we will have some teachers."

To believe the Olympics can remain entirely separate from politics, she says, amounts to "keeping your head in the sand."

'68 saluteIndeed, using the Olympics as a platform for social activism is nothing new, with the most memorable incident being the black power salute by medal winners John Carlos and Tommie Smith in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. It’s sad to think then, that these Olympics came and went without a similar moment of solidarity with LGBT equality, especially when such international attention was given to the issue. Just imagine how iconic (and bold) of a statement could have been made if a simple kiss was shared between two same-sex medal winners on an Olympic podium while in Sochi.

Now that would have kept the conversation going long after the Olympic spotlight and journalists faded from Sochi. 

The International Olympic Committee, which is under pressure to be more selective in its picking of future host cities, has said it’s impractical to eliminate potentially controversial countries, otherwise the Olympics would be held “in only two places.” Putin, for his part, praised the IOC for taking a “risk” by entrusting the Games with Russia. In a post-Olympics meeting attended by IOC president Thomas Bach and committee members, Putin said one of the main aims of the Games was to show off to the world the new face of post-Soviet Russia, a country he has run since 2000. 

"It was important to show that we are a country with goodwill which knows how to meet guests and create a celebration not just for itself but all sports fans in the world."

With the Games over, however, one can't help but feel a sense of mounting concern for Russia's "goodwill" towards its already marginalized LGBT community. The removal of parenting rights for gay couples in Russia, for example, could very well be the next step in Putin's anti-gay agenda. 


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