The extravagant opening last Friday night sent a direct message to friends and foes around the world that the bear is here to stay—whether one likes it or not; and securing the bear is the vast wealth grandiosely accumulated by the nouveaux riches. These days, Russian power and science cannot be seeing only through the prism of the country’s military industrial complex of the old soviet era. It is also its flourishing high-tech industry, its oil and gas industry, its glamorizing cities etc…
While the western powers—economically broke—are trying to bluff their way into Ukraine, Vladimir is using his money, lots of it (100 billions), to keep Kiev, the heart of Historic Russia, into fold. And he is winning.
With him this weekend is a conglomerate of Central Asian Head of States. Among them, we notice the Kazakhstan president, Nursultan Nazarbayev also known as the king of the snow leopards. Also at hand are Chinese president Xi Jinxing , Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Turkmenistan president etc.. As his VIPs watch the fancy games, the host (Vladimir) will flex his political skillfulness to fish, ski, bike and cruise through the political discussions.
Thirty-seven billion euros, roughly 50 billion US dollars, was used toward the realization of the Winter Olympic, the most lavish of all. So the battle for influence and power between East and West is no longer drawn along ideological lines. It’s the pocketbook, stupid!
In bourgeois democracies, it’s not what you say you are; it’s rather who your friends are and the massive wealth at your disposal to entertain them. Here is what FOX News says of Russia following the opening ceremony: “With a quirky, spectacular Sochi Opening Ceremony entitled “Dreams of Russia”, the world’s largest country has effectively told the world that it is desperate to shed its old, grey, leathery skin. From the moment the 2014 Winter Olympics ceremony started at 20:14 local time, it was obvious that Russia is proud of its industrial and cultural heritage, but desperately wants to be seen as a modern, colorful, upbeat, can-do sort of nation.”
The biggest losers in this game, of course, are millions of financially deprived Russians, Belarusians, and Central-Asians completely disenfranchised whose daily living is as hellish as those who live in the fringes of urban America.