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Friday, March 24, 2023

Replaying the great game in Sochi, Russia

vladimir1By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

Last week, Russian president Vladimir Putin took foreign journalists on a tour to a public zoo just outside Sochi, where he led them to a special quarter that housed Siberian tigers. In his usual showmanship fashion, he lured one of the baby tigers to his laps and started patting it and bottle-feeding it. Vladimir of course does nothing just for pure fantasy. A former KGB boss, he knows how to work the media; and this days, he has reasons to flex his muscles, positioning Mother Russia, his big party on Friday in Sochi, and his celebrity status on a strategic rebottle with the media frenzy surrounding possible security pitfalls during this upcoming summer Olympic.

Never before has an Olympic game been so cursed by the western media and, by extension, their countries. It looks as if Sochi is a disaster waiting to happen. “It is fair to say this is nothing but a publicity stunt,” said Pablo Escobar, flamboyant commentator for Asia Times Online.

Many observers agree this whole frenzy is nothing but a hoax designed for sound bite pungency, but not for journalistic appropriateness. For some media organizations that have built credibility on “unbiased” reporting, the temptation is so great that they can’t help but to get into the anti-Putin bash. “No one of course, is prepared to declare Russia‘s security measures a success. The Olympics have not even started, and the threats to the Sochi Games are more real and imminent than at any other in Olympic history.” That is from the Christian Science Monitor.

In the same paragraph, a run-on sentence is introduced to foment fairness. “But by all appearances, Russians here are calm and the security presence robust. So as athletes, staff, and media all arrive in Sochi to get down to the business of actually running a Winter Olympics, attention is slowly turning to the competition ahead and away from lingering fears.”

The historic war along the Silk Road in Central Asia has shifted to the hotly contested territory of the Caucuses Mountains; and the Winter Olympic in Sochi is the new battleground, the latest frontline. But Vladimir still has the upper hand, even as Arizona senator John McCain haa gone in a declaration of disturbance in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, last month. In a classic replay of proxy politics, he blatantly urged civil disobedience to bring down the government of strongman Viktor Yanukovych in favor of anarchists, neo-Nazis etc.. He promised he would share his expertise mastered from his war against the Arizona tribes and his subsequent subjugation of the tribes. The aim is Russia, not Ukraine. Even Obama’s chief diplomat, Secretary of States John Kerry, has jumped into the play. At a meeting in Brussels last week, he reiterated US position. “Ynukovych is not negotiating with fairness.”

Now Assistant Secretary of States for Eurasia Victoria Nuland has gone further than her boss. In the newest political blunder, Nuland was caught on tape using the “F” word to her European counterparts with regards to the slow pace of the political crisis in Ukraine. While caught castigating her colleagues in Brussels, it was with candor she was talking about the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures, along with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, “debating strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine’s to resolve.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was forced to acknowledge that the recording was authentic and said Nuland had apologized to E.U. officials. But U.S. officials were also quick to point the finger at Russia, which has bristled at U.S. involvement in Ukraine.

No one pays serious attention because what the western countries are trying to accomplish in pulling Ukraine into their fold is the pursuit of a revanchist policy against Russia through puppet regimes in Eastern Europe. Certainly, they do not have the financial power to bell out a bankrupt Ukraine, or Georgia, or any of the Baltic States. Vladimir knows it, so does the new leadership in Beijing. Meanwhile he continues with his own game plan, water down any blistering attack. Last weekend, near his exclusive dacha, just few miles up the road outside Sochi, he was spotted playing hockey with his Belorussian counterpart—bad boy—Alexander Lukashenko.  By all accounts, Friday night will be dazzling, and CSMS Magazine will be watching.

Dr. Ardain Isma is essayist and novelist. He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at UNF (University of North Florida. He can be reached at publisher@csmsmagazine.org

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