Voices from Russia

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Sochi Olympics: Largest Number of Heads of State at Opening… Opening of the Games Kicks Off in Sochi… Putin and Bach Open the Programme

00 Sochi Olympics 01.07.01.14

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Editor’s Note:

It started! Ura! Of course, I’m going to give you an unashamed Old School hometown home-team slant on it all. I’m NOT objective… but then again, NO journalist is. Be especially wary of those who label themselves “unbiased” and “objective”… they’re usually the ones with particularly noxious and rancid agendas (like Fox News, CNN, The Economist, The Guardian, and the New York Times… but do check them out to see what the latest neoliberal spin is). You’re safest with those of us who admit our human frailties… we’ll give you better coverage. Read us all… then, make up your mind. I confide that I have CONFIDENCE in youse guys.

BMD

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The Winter Olympics in Sochi have barely begun, yet, already, it looks sure to smash its first world record… more than 50 heads of state and government shall attend Friday’s opening ceremony. Amongst them are Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and King Harald V of Norway and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The Games organisers said, “The games in Sochi will be record-setting in the history of the Winter Games in terms of attendance of heads of state and government. That’s more than at the last two Games in Torino and Vancouver combined”. US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are amongst the more conspicuous names to turn down invitations; whilst French President François Hollande declared in December that he wouldn’t attend and German President Joachim Gauck explicitly cited the Russian human rights record as the reason that he’d skip it. Gay rights groups called for an all-out boycott of the Sochi Games due to a law signed last year by President Vladimir Putin that bans any perceived promotion of homosexuality to under-18s. The Games run February 7-23.

Heads of State Attending the Opening:

7 February 2014

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00 SOchi Olympics. money. Russia. 27.01.14

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The opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics has gotten under way in Sochi. Preparations for Friday’s ceremony, which began at 20.14 MSK (16.14 UTC 11.14 EST 08.14 PDT 23.14 AEST), proceeded under a veil of secrecy, although some details leaked out in the days running up to the event. The opening caps years of preparations for the Winter Games, on which authorities staked hopes of casting Russia as a dynamic and confident modern nation. However, controversy over a range of questions marked the run-up to the competition ranging from the purported 51 billion USD (1.8 trillion Roubles. 56 billion CAD. 57 billion AUD. 37.5 billion Euros. 31 billion UK Pounds) spent on creating infrastructure to an anti-gay propaganda law that dominated the coverage of much international media. President Vladimir Putin sought to downplay those specific concerns, insisting that there was little evidence that corruption blighted the Sochi projects and that gay people would be welcome in Sochi. Russia’s attempts to justify the International Olympic Committee’s selection of Sochi as the host city over more traditional winter venues such as Salzburg and Pyeongchang suffered because unfinished media hotels, gay rights, and terrorism threats dominated all the talk. However, in the sports arena, there could hardly have been a more promising start. Thursday saw two new events in the Olympic programme… slopestyle and the team figure skating event.

7 February 2014

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00 Sochi Olympics 02. Putin. 07.01.14

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On Friday, President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Olympics in Sochi after a lavish opening ceremony displaying Russia as a resurgent nation. Putin said, “I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially open”, raising the curtain on an Olympic Games that started as his pet project and that became the crowning moment of his third term as president. In front of a near-capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium and millions of TV viewers worldwide, the opening show drew on Russia’s rich musical and literary heritage, including its Soviet past.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said, “Tonight we’re writing a new page in Olympic history. These are the first-ever Olympic Games in the new Russia. The Russians’ desire for their own winter sport resort was so great because of their passion for sports on snow and ice. What took decades in other parts of the world, they achieved here in just seven years. That’s a remarkable achievement”. The German former fencer, 60, is overseeing his first Games since replacing Jacques Rogge at the helm of the IOC in September. Bach called on athletes “to live together with harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason”, after an Olympic build-up marred by disputes over Russian laws banning promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships to children.

With a total cost of 51 billion USD, the Sochi Olympics are on course to be the most expensive in history by some measures, although that includes infrastructure not directly used for the Games and Russian officials say that only 6.4 billion USD (223 billion Roubles. 7 billion CAD. 7.2 billion AUD. 4.7 billion Euros. 3.9 billion UK Pounds) of directly competition-related costs should count. Putin was the key figure in securing the right to hold the Games in 2007, giving a rare English-language speech to IOC delegates in Guatemala before they chose Sochi. Russian culture was prominent in the ceremony, with allusions to the novel War and Peace and artist Vasili Kandinsky, whilst world-renowned opera singer Anna Netrebko sang the Olympic hymn.

Patriotism was a frequent theme, with the Russian national anthem played in its full form, lasting several minutes, as colour-coded performers formed the country’s flag while red, white, and blue lights beamed the national colours around the arena. The show began with a run through the Cyrillic alphabet, and there were cameos from a choir of Orthodox monks and a squad of cosmonauts. Russia acknowledged its Soviet past in a segment where Communist symbols… including Stalin-era skyscrapers and a 50-foot-high hammer and sickle… merged with jazz and other elements of what once was subversive culture. Two heroes of Soviet sport, figure skater Irina Rodnina and hockey goaltender Vladislav Tretyak, each with three Olympic gold medals, lit the Olympic cauldron. The first woman in space, Major General Valentina Tereshkova, was one of the bearers of the Olympic flag.

7 February 2014

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00 Sochi Olympics 03. fireworks. 07.01.14

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It was crowded … very crowded… at the open-air Live Site screen set up in central Sochi for sports fans wanting to get together to watch an Olympic opening ceremony that rumour suggested would be an unforgettable spectacle. It was so crowded that it was clearly too crowded, as became swiftly clear as hundreds of people crammed into a massive line to get inside the cordoned-off area. Seemingly, a lack of X-Ray machines caused the crush, which became increasingly dangerous as people in the scrum screamed, scuffled, and pushed back and forth, knocking over the metal barriers. A one point, a man said to a woman volubly complaining that she felt crushed, “If I was Hercules, I’d pick you up and put you over, but I’m like you, a sardine in a can”. After about an hour, police reinforcements created some order, but even well after the ceremony began, lines were still huge outside the screening. One woman who got through the crush said, “I’m hurting and worried about my niece. I don’t even want to watch it”, waving at the screen behind her.

For most people, however, the physically arduous wait was worthwhile by the show that followed. About 1,000 people watched the lavish ceremony in the cordoned area, whilst many more crowded balconies outside to watch the more than two-hour-long event. Aleksandr Vrikhov, a driver from Moscow, who was in Sochi on a work trip and watching at the Live Site, said that he particularly enjoyed the history section of the show, but laughed about how they’d apparently missed some parts, saying, “They left out the difficult bits… and they forgot perestroĭka”, referring to the period of restructuring that ushered in the end of the USSR. Huge cheers broke out when the Russian athletes entered the stadium. In a bar nearby, a man and his child raced round shouting “Russia” and waving flags. Marina Molchanova, who came from the faraway Sakha Republic in Siberia to watch the games, said, “We liked all of it, especially, the part about the Olympic Games of 1980 and the children”.

The final lighting of the Olympic cauldron drew large cheers from the assembled crowd. Three-time Olympic figure skating champion Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretyak, the legendary Soviet goaltender named the greatest Russian hockey player of the 20th century, lit the cauldron. A bevy of other Russian sports stars, including tennis star Maria Sharapova, Olympic medal-winning Graeco-Roman wrestler Aleksandr Karelin {the greatest of all time!: editor}, pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva and Alina Kabaeva, a gold medal rhythmic gymnast at the Athens Games of 2004, handed the pair the flame. Other people watching the show said that it was better than the opening ceremony for the last Winter Olympics. Artur Balt, 27, said, “We were in Vancouver, but this was the best”. His friend, Dmitri Kub, 22, who’d travelled with him from Kemerovo Oblast, said that watching the opening ceremony in his own country provoked an almost indescribable feeling, saying, “When you’re in your motherland… when you’re at home, you can’t imagine how cool it is”. Aleksandr Shchitsyn, who came from the Perm Krai in the Urals, was breathless in his admiration, if a little jealous of those who enjoyed the ceremony from inside Fisht Stadium, saying, “It was beautiful. It’s a shame that we weren’t there”.

8 February 2014 (MSK)

Howard Amos

Kevin O’Flynn

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00 Sochi Olympics 04. fans. 07.01.14

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President Vladimir Putin said in a documentary aired late Friday that a rival nation vying to host the 2014 Winter Olympics ran a dirty tricks campaign trying to derail the eventual winning Sochi bid. In the documentary, shown on state television channel Rossiya-1, Putin said that someone shoved “Sochi 2014” promotion leaflets under doors of hotel rooms occupied by members of the International Olympic Committee on the night before the final vote in 2007. IOC rules strictly prohibit campaigning during the run-up to the vote. Putin said, “Do you know what saved us? CCTV cameras in hallways recorded that our rivals posing as us did it. It didn’t help them”. Putin didn’t name which country he believes was responsible for the alleged bid disruption attempt {it’s common knowledge that the USA was responsible for this shit, brainstormed by Willy Romney. Aren’t you glad that you didn’t vote for that slimeball?: editor}. Sochi won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games during an IOC session in Guatemala in July 2007 after a close race with Pyeongchang (Republic of Korea) and Salzburg (Austria).

8 February 2014 (MSK)

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20140207/187299658/In-an-Olympic-Record-More-Than-50-World-Leaders-to-Attend-Sochi.html

http://en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20140207/187304949/Sochi-Games-Lavish-Opening-Ceremony-Gets-Under-Way.html

http://en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20140207/187312444/Putin-Opens-Winter-Olympics-in-Sochi.html

http://en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20140208/187316479/Fans-Rave-Over-Sochi-Opening-Despite-Dangerous-Crush.html

http://en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20140208/187319041/Rivals-Tried-to-Discredit-Sochis-Olympic-Bid—Putin.html

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Thursday, 9 August 2012

23 July 2012. VOR Presents… Memorials Held in Norway for the Victims of Last Year’s Terrorist Attack

On 22 July 2012, Norway remembered the victims of a double attack that shook the world a year ago. On that day, in the city centre’s government quarter, an explosion shook Oslo, eight people died and another 98 received various injuries. Later, the terrorist attacked a Norwegian Labour Party Workers’ Youth League (AUF) camp on Utøya Island, killing 69 people and wounding 60. The suspect in both crimes, Anders Behring Breivik, voluntarily surrendered to police.

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Before the memorial in Oslo for the victims of a double attack began, police made a thorough inspection of the city centre, using specially-trained dogs.

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At 11.00, Norwegian royal family members (pictured, at right, King Harald V) and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (left), laid wreaths at the explosion site at the parliamentary centre in Oslo.

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Across Norway, memorial services marked the anniversary of the terrible events. In the image above, we see the Norwegian royal family taking part in a ceremony near a destroyed government building in Oslo. Left to right: Princess Mette-Marit, Crown Prince Haakon, Prime Minister’s wife, Ingrid, Queen Sonja, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and King Harald.

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Members of the Norwegian royal family and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attended a memorial service at the Oslo Domkirke. After the service, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit met with relatives of those killed and injured on 22 July 2011. From left to right: Princess Märtha Louise, Queen Sonja, and King Harald.

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On Utøya Island, on 22 July 2012, a memorial event organised by the AUF of the Norwegian Labour Party marked the first anniversary of the tragic events that took place a year ago. A ferry took relatives and friends of the teenagers killed and injured by Breivik to the island to lay flowers at the scene of the tragedy.

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On the evening of 22 July, Norwegians marched in the city streets holding flowers and candles; a concert by Norwegian and foreign artists at Town Hall Square in Oslo memorialised the tragic events of 2011. In the image above, we see relatives and friends of those killed and injured visiting Utøya Island on 22 July 2012.

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22 July 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/photoalbum/82452664/82471194/

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

RIA-Novosti Infographics. Man Shoots Participants at Youth Convention Organised by the Norwegian Labour Party

26 July 2011

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20110726/165393102.html

Monday, 25 July 2011

RIA-Novosti Presents… Russians Mourn Norway Massacre Victims

Russians brought flowers and toys to the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow to pay homage to the victims of Friday’s terrorist incident in Norway that claimed the lives of at least 93 people.

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At least seven people died when a car bomb exploded at a government complex in downtown Oslo on Friday.

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A further 86 people, mostly teenagers, were killed when a gunman, disguised as a police officer, opened fire at random at a youth camp on Utøya Island operated by the ruling Labour Party.

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Norwegian police arrested the gunman, identified as a 32-year-old Norwegian. He faces up to 21 years in prison if found guilty of committing acts of terrorism.

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The suspect had links with extremist rightwing groups.

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President Dmitri Medvedev offered his condolences to Norwegians over the deadly attacks. “I’m convinced that those who organised and carried out these merciless and senseless crimes will be brought to justice, and they’ll receive the punishment that they deserve”, Medvedev said in his message to King Harald V.

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“In this hour, we sincerely have compassion for and show our solidarity with the fraternal Norwegian people”, Dmitri Anatolyevich said.

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“We have to be strong. Do not lose the belief in the best future for your country. We are with you”.

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24 July 2011

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/photolents/20110724/165367236.html

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