With the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia Vladimir Putin has been granted a global stage to do what he fancies best, flex his powerful authoritarian muscles. Putin is a man who can simultaneously grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden for helping to “change the minds of people around the world” and throw a band in prison for playing a song that was critical of his leadership. He can spark the Ukraine to spiral into civil unrest in order to disassociate with him while also holding an above 60 percent approval rating in his own country. Vladimir Putin is a walking contradiction that the countries of the world seem unable to crack.
Russia has bent over backwards financially for this year’s winter olympics. It is easily the most expensive event in the history of the games. Putting an exact price tag on it is nearly impossible due to conflicting reports and corrupt organizations. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev indicated in an interview with CNN that the cost is somewhere around $50 billion. The decision to hold the games in Sochi of all places is as conflicting as the president himself. Sochi is one of the warmest places in the entirety of Russia and snow is a rarity in the coastal region. This is not an issue for Putin though, as he intends to play mother nature by stockpiling snow from the previous winter to ensure a wintery setting. I’m left wondering what will be more impressive, the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics or Putin’s suite at the newly constructed palatial resort nearby.
Putin may see these upcoming games as a chance for him to be lauded by the world and maybe his intentions are pure. Maybe Putin was in fact unaware of the corruption that helped transform Sochi into a winter wonderland. Just hope the artificially created ice that will be skated on doesn’t crack and give way to the looming terrorist threat, civil injustice, and financially despicable dealings that it was built over.
Photo Credit: Alexey Nikolsky/Ria Novolsty/Kremlin Pool