That’s not to say that Russians, with or without Putin, don’t have a long way to go. It’s not to say that Russians don’t have their quirks. But Putin has framed Sochi as a vision a “new Russia.” So if lots of people around the world see that the new Russia is extraordinarily similar to the old Russia, that’s a victory.
We don’t even have to bring up the fact that Putin has consistently undermined American interests, abetting brutal dictatorships in Syria and North Korea – not to mention, shielding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Surrounded by an army of 40,000 soldiers and police in a “ring of steel,” Bob Costas can whitewash his host’s misdeeds, but Russia’s government is not only corrupt, and not only is it intolerant of gays, but according to Amnesty International, human rights violations by the government include killings, enforced disappearances and torture, and they are “frequent.” According to Freedom of Information index by Reporters Without Borders, Putin belongs on a list with Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Italian Mafia and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.
This is his Olympics. We should all get in a good laugh at his misfortune.