Western Media Coverage of Sochi

Here is a radio discussion on VoR I did on Sunday with Amos Gelb and Robert Bridge on the western media’s coverage of the Sochi Olympics.


Please note that the written summary provided gives only a fraction of the discussion. Anyone wanting to follow the whole discussion will need to listen to it.  Please be warned it lasts around 40 minutes.  However  I thought it was a good discussion.  It contained the interesting disclosure from Amos Gelb that CNN was about to expose massive corruption at the Atlanta Olympics but that the story was suppressed by Ted Turner who had an interest them.  Evidence there (Russian liberals please note) that corruption is not exclusive to Russia but also happens on a big scale in the US including at Olympic Games and that the US media is fully capable of suppressing information about it when the interests involved are powerful enough

We got on to the subject of the “gay propaganda” law towards the end of the discussion. Anyone wanting my considered opinions of this law will not have to wait long. I have a (very) lengthy post on the subject almost ready.


  1. The audio links both the online media player and the download link don’t seem to be working on the VOR website. I e-mailed them so hopefully they will fix it soon.

  2. Dear johnUK,

    Apologies. I have provided a fresh link which I hope offers the option to download a podcast.

  3. How come there is no talk about the recent developments in Ukraine?

    I mentioned it before and I never got a response but is someone finally going to have a good critical review of Putin fro a pro-Russian perspective?

    He seems to be regarded as flawless leader who can do no wrong yet as with the developments in Ukraine and quality of various indicators in Russia compared to western countries like free freedom, human rights, corruption, income inequality, etc it lacks far behind.

    What is worse is the direct he is taking Russia in.

    • Forgot to post the link to the latest “I am a Ukrainian” appeal video.



    • John, it suffices to say that he found Russia bankrupt and in a demographic death spiral in 2000.

      Now Russia has natural population growth, and half a terabuck in the bank.

      You’ll say ‘Its all the energy windfall!’

      No. Its his and Medvedev’s astute management of the energy windfall. If it had been left in the hands of Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky, they would have taken it, leveraged it 30-1 on global business empire-building, and lost every kopek in The Crash, and Mother Russia would have faced the Force 12 financial storm of 2008 financially naked.

      Instead, Putin taxed it out of their hands, paid off debts, and built reserves, allowing Russians to ride out the worst global financial catastrophe in 80 years.

      In the 1998 Crash, Russia’s births dropped 70,000.

      After the 2008 Crash, Russia’s births rose 50,000.

      What country in the world has improved so much, so fast?

      • @rkka

        Getting the country out of the hands of a few corrupt oligarchs the same type of Russia is supporting in Ukraine that has come to backfire on them is what you would expect any leader/government to do with actions against Berezovsky and Yeltsin started under Yevgeny Primakov.

        The country is still dependent on natural reserves, it hasn’t built any new significant infrastructure that most of the housing and factories are still Soviet era, the oligarchs still control much of the economy, it is hopelessly corrupt, its foreign policy has been disastrous, far right fascists groups are wide spread and has important thousands of Muslim immigrants from Central Asia creating a potential ethnic warfare, still a large poverty population and increasing wealth divide and all the usual things Russia is criticised for like human rights, press freedom, one party monopoly system, etc.

        Russia’s foreign policy is disastrous as the recent events in Ukraine have shown.

        Why did Russia’s president for life Putin run for a 3rd term? Why even bother with the pretext of elections that are rigged anyway?

        • George Bordakov says:

          your actions are contradiction with your words.
          If Russia is hopelessly corrupt why bother to write at this forum?
          Participants of this forum (called Da Russophile) apparently love Russia and therefore don’t want for it to cease to exist. If Russia is corrupt with no hope for recovery its extermination is matter of necessity and security. Do you want participants of this forum to help with this task? It is not logical.

          • It is hopelessly corrupt because those are the most corrupt are aligned with Putin United and his Russia party as there is no independent oversight and freeing of the political process to keep it in check. It is not hopeless that it can’t be fixed. It can be fixed but a lot of it has to do with Putin and the people connected to him.

            That’s why you need a serious evaluation from a pro-Russian perspective critical evaluation of Putin’s rule and what is and is not beneficial to Russia immediate and long term interests something Russian commentators fail to do.

            • “It is hopelessly corrupt because those are the most corrupt are aligned with Putin United and his Russia party as there ”

              Completely screwed up the first sentence I meant to write;

              It is hopelessly corrupt because those who are the most corrupt are aligned with Putin and his United Russia party as..

              • George Bordakov says:

                I see contradiction again.
                “It is hopelessly corrupt” vs. “It is not hopeless that it can’t be fixed”.

                But later you say “Completely screwed up”. What do you mean? Is it hopelessly corrupt or not? (BTW, it may be hopeless, one could only know that post-mortem).

                Let me explain why do I bother to write.

                Yo write “those who are the most corrupt are aligned with Putin and his United Russia party”
                I don’t support that. My personal experience from 90s is that certain opposition figures (Nemtsov, Ponomarev) are not less corrupt than United Russia figures. The later may be an argument in favor of corruption being hopeless.

                But I don’t think it is hopeless, because my personal corruption perception index for Russia based on my routine life has significantly improved since 90s. So I don’t want in power now any figures somehow associated with those in power then. I don’t want Putin either since he is KGB. I also agree that corruption is unacceptably high, but can be diminished and is diminishing. BTW, I see main reason for corruption not in the government but in the people themselves: lack of trust, crisis of values, undeveloped civil society, heritage of communism, etc.

                In the same time I don’t believe in good intentions of Western governments for average Russian people. I actually do believe that intentions are malign (not even indifferent). Even Jeffry Sachs admits in his recent statement http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/jeffrey-d–sachs-praises-russia-s-post-soviet-economic-progress-and-says-that-rapid-long-term-growth-is-within-reach “it is clear that there was also a deliberate strategy by US neoconservatives, such as then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, to weaken the new Russian state”. This strategy did not prevent corrupt Russian officials from amassing wealth and power but caused a lot of suffering of average people including me (such outcome must be obvious for those strategy designers). Infamous Romney’s “geopolitical foe #1” reveals that intentions of significant share of US voters are malign as well.

                Therefore I take any statement of “hopeless corruption” from a Western (UK?) person as an attempt of self-fulfilling prophecy. I think majority of Russian citizens share that attitude. So if one wants to be heard by Russians, one must avoid such statements (and sweeping generalizations on delicate matters). If one does not want to be heard, why bother to write at this blog.

              • “Completely screwed up” remark was because I messed up the statement when I wrote the first sentence that was out of order and did not make sense that I corrected.

                A big part of the corruption is due to corrupt officials and people being aligned with Putin and his party so as long as that is in place there will always be a high degree of corruption with Putin in charge. If he wasn’t in charge and Russia was more transparent like western countries then you could seriously tackle the issue.

                And saying it is not as corrupt as during the 90’s is not a hard benchmark to beet.

                Agreed that western policy towards Russia is based on there own interests that I have been commenting on and trying to get Russian bloggers to talk about to no avail especially in regards to support of terrorism.
                That shouldn’t negate criticism of Putin, his policies and how he is running the country from as I say a pro-Russian perspective or do you have to be pro-Putin to be pro-Russian?

              • George Bordakov says:

                one can certainly be anti-Putin and pro-Russian. Those are plenty. Perhaps you missed that I am anti-Putin myself. One can not be pro-Russian if he claims that corruption in Russia is hopeless.

                Current Western policy interest includes weakening of Russian state. It may sound not that sinister, but repetition of 90s is just a very mild form of that weakening. So Western policy currently includes pain, suffering, destruction and death for people of Russia. It is widespread attitude, polls usually show about 2/3 considering that US is enemy of Russia. Therefore anybody criticizing Russian government in the West is always suspected of being enemy. Especially if advise is to implement Western policies (we think we tried and it was worse than under Putin) or if they say suspicions are irrational.

                As for cure against corruption I don’t think it is transparency. Budget and government contracts are pretty transparent now. The cure is a rule of law, which is in disrespect at all levels of society. Russians in majority still look at law as a Lenin once said: “enshrined will of the ruling class”. And it is still justified. Why support such law? Corruption is an instrument of protection against ruling class. People see big corruption and don’t protest to keep their little corruption going.

                Putin does almost nothing to establish rule of law. But unfortunately there is no bigger nationwide opposition that does more.

              • I thought a clarified in my previous post what I meant by “hopelessly corrupt”. The corruption resides with the system and the system is Putin and those affiliated with him.

                Remember the police officer who went on YouTube to complain about his police chief being totally corrupt and involved in criminal activities like protestation rings? He myself ended up being investigated.

                How many senior businessmen, official, etc linked to Putin that you have to be to have any influence in Putin’s Russia have even been investigated for corruption?

              • George Bordakov says:

                hopeless means destitute of hope, something that can not be resolved and improved under any circumstances and with any efforts. It means terminal state from which there is only one outcome – death. It is very strong word and all this blog is just about words. If one would say that corruption in Chicago police in Prohibition era was hopeless, he would be wrong. It was not hopeless, since it has obviously become less.

                Now about corruption and Putin. I agree that corruption resides within the system. I disagree that the system is Putin. The system includes both government and governed. For governed it is a way to protect themselves against arbitrary will of ruling class as well as a way to achieve their own small illegal profit. Both sides do not care much about rule of law. Little guy because that law is designed to screw him. Powerful because they are above the law. Putin so far protects this way of government but so do and did his adversaries when they come to power.

                If you are just going to compare Russia against US with the criteria you mentioned you will not get much understanding.
                “How many senior businessmen, official, etc linked to Putin that you have to be to have any influence in Putin’s Russia have even been investigated for corruption?”
                I can name at least Serdykov and Slutsker. Of course Rumsfeld and Cheney (HAL?) are above any suspicion. Does it mean that Russia less corrupt than US. No.

                Correct question to ask is whether or not Medvedev will pay the fine for speeding? Whether provincial governor or federal judge will pay the fine for speeding? Whether Navalny will pay the fine for hunting out of season? Whether anybody would pay the fine for speeding? Ten years ago nobody would do it, just give money to policeman. No it does not work, people do actually pay the fine in the bank.

  4. Lacking countermeasures to NATO advancement and the sanctions war…Putin is a dead man walking…full stop. The puppet leadership in Georgia and Ukraine will pledge full cooperation with Russia to flake out Putin until NATO moves in and puts a gun to his head. Putin will be seen as little more than a petty monument builder and surrender monkey.

  5. commenter8 says:

    “Anyone wanting my considered opinions of this law will not have to wait long. I have a (very) lengthy post on the subject almost ready.”

    That was on February 17th. Today is March 9th. 3 weeks isn’t a long time?!? Where’s the post???