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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7 February 2014. “My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went”… Thoughts on Nearing Sixty

3peoplelaughing_000

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Johnny Cash doing If I Had a Hammer (Johnny was another Leftie… he was a socialist!)

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Peter, Paul, and Mary ‘s version of If I Had a Hammer

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My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went! But I’m STILL a contender!

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I was listening to the above song from the Weavers reunion in 1980. Lee Hays, who did the intro, died the next year, at the age of 67 (Hays wrote the lyrics for If I Had a Hammer, Pete Seeger wrote the music)… Pete Seeger just died at 94 this year, and Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman are still alive n’ kickin’. Some people think that reaching the “Six-Oh” is the end of the line. Not on your life! I don’t have the same zip as I once did, and it takes me longer to heal if I take a tumble, but I’m still pickin’ and I’m still grinnin’. God has given me tolerably good health and good friends, and little much else. However, I’m not morose, down inna dumps, or envious… I’m gonna keep swinging until the day I die! Yet, I’m beginning to have an understanding of what Browning meant in Rabbi Ben Ezragrow old with me, the best is yet to be; this is the last of life for which the first was made.

I intend to stay feisty and lively… and that’s the way youse guys like it, isn’t it? By the way, I’m still handing out the AKs, axe handles, Molotov cocktails, and RPGs at the backdoor. DON’T let the bastards grind ya down… shoot back! Even if they zap ya, ya didn’t die a bloody coward (like Rush Limbaugh, Richard Cheney, Bill O’Reilly, and Willy Romney). Be a happy warrior… and spread goodness and decency where and when you can, even if the plug-uglies try to squash ya.

Thank God for your life… it’s the best gift that you ever had… pass me the jug… this was thirsty work…

BMD 

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MID Sez Moscow Won’t Interfere or Intervene in the Ukraine… Russia and China Condemn Outside Interference… US Bigs Diss EU, Forced to Apologise, USA Blames Russia for Leak… Explosion in Oppo Stronghold Injures Two, Cops Not Allowed to Investigate

00 Riots in Kiev 01. 07.01.14

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said that Moscow doesn’t intervene or interfere in Ukrainian internal affairs, in response to a question on the plans of the Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea to appeal to Russia to act as guarantor of security regarding the events on the Maidan. At a briefing at the MID, Lukashevich said, “We believe that the Ukrainian leadership is quite capable of making their own decisions to unblock this political crisis. We don’t interfere or intervene in these processes. However, of course, we’ve conducted a very intensive multi-pronged dialogue using all channels to solve all pressing bilateral issues, especially, questions of practical politics and economic coöperation”.

6 February 2014

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Dmitri Peskov, the Press Secretary to the President, said that President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping strongly condemned foreign interference in Ukrainian internal affairs after the riots began in mid-January, saying, “They touched upon the topic of the Ukraine. Both sides emphasised the inadmissibility of any outside interference in the situation and harshly condemned any such intervention”. Peskov noted that the Chinese expressed their condemnation of external intervention and supported the Russian position.

6 February 2014

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US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said that the State Department doesn’t intend to authenticate an internet post presumed to be by US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt {Pyatt’s a former neoliberal K Street stink-tanker, which tells you that he’s untrustworthy and an opportunistic backstabber: editor}, where they allegedly spoke rudely about the EU and the role that it gave three Ukrainian oppositionist leaders… Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klichko, and Oleg Tyagnibok. She told reporters, “I’m not going to confirm it or disclose details of diplomats’ private conversations diplomats. There’s a difference between private conversations and official positions, which we’ll announce later”.

On Thursday, YouTube posted an audio conversation with a female and male voice, presumably belonging to Nuland and Pyatt. In particular, the woman’s voice says that she doesn’t want to see UDAR leader Klichko in any new Ukrainian government, “I don’t think that Klich (Klichko) should enter the government. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it’s a good idea”, noting Klichko’s political naïveté. The male voice said, “The problem may be with (Svoboda chieftain) Tyagnibok and his guy”. The two agreed that “Yats” (apparently Yatsenyuk) would be the best head of government. Then, the woman’s voice said that State Department Ukrainian expert Jeff Feltman allegedly persuaded UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send special envoy Robert Serry to Kiev, saying, “It’ll be fine, I think, to stick together and help the situation, even if we have to deal with the UN and the EU… fuck the EU”. Judging by details in the discussion, the conversation could’ve taken place in late January.

Later Thursday, an unnamed American official told the AP that USA suspects that a Russian source leaked the audio, because, according to the American official view, the first reference to the conversation appeared in a tweet on Twitter by Dmitri Loskutov to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin.

Click here for a 4-minute audio clip of the alleged conversation

7 February 2014

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On Friday, AFP reported that US Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland apologised to EU diplomats in a telephone conversation for her rudeness towards the EU. US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said, “Allow me to announce that she contacted her EU counterparts, and, of course, apologised”. However, she refused to confirm or deny whether the recording posted on the Internet was authentic.

7 February 2014

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Washington accused Russia of being behind the leak of an intercepted telephone call between top US diplomats discussing the unfolding political crisis in the Ukraine, using foul language to disparage the EU. In the recording, figures identified as US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussed political developments inside the Ukraine and coördinate on contact with opposition figures. In a passage that’s already caused embarrassment to Washington, one can hear Nuland dismiss European partners with the phrase “fuck the EU”. The conversation, which is now on YouTube, is scant on operational details, but Russia will likely use it to show direct Western support for Ukrainian oppositionists.

A post on Twitter by an aide to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin about the recording shortly after it surfaced online prompted accusations from Washington that the Tweet directly implicated Moscow in the interception and later leak. On Thursday, US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said, “This is a new low in Russian tradecraft in terms of publicising and posting. This is something they’ve been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about, and certainly we feel that represents a new low”. Psaki said Nuland contacted EU counterparts and apologised for her embarrassing remarks. Dmitri Loskutov, an aide to Rogozin, dismissed suggestions that he was directly involved in a leak, saying, “I was just monitoring the Internet, whilst my boss was meeting with the Chinese leader”. Loskutov said that his tweet wasn’t an official statement. Repeatedly, Russia urged an end to what it calls interference by Western politicians in Ukrainian internal affairs.

7 February 2014

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MVD Major General Valery Mazan, the acting head of the MVDU in Kiev, said on Channel 112 that the authorities opened a criminal case under Article 264 of the UKU (careless storage of firearms or ammunition) on the explosion in the House of Trade Unions, occupied by oppositionist radicals. Earlier reports indicated that the blast injured two people, a man who lost his hand and a 15-year-old teenager with third-degree burns around the eyes are in hospital. The cops tried to enter the premises to inspect the incident scene, but Rada People’s Deputy Vladimir Aryev {a Hard Right pro-Western oppo militant: editor}, who introduced himself as a leader of those inside, said that the oppositionist occupiers of the building refused to let the cops inside the building.

7 February 2014

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The MVDU didn’t rule out the possibility that the explosion at the House of Trade Unions in Kiev was a result of an accident during the manufacture of an explosive device. A statement posted on the MVDU website said, “Rightwing radical groups plan to disturb the peace again, and they wouldn’t scruple at a terrorist act. Our present operational information backs that up, as shown by recent developments in the House of Trade Unions, where an explosion occurred. This might have been the result of attempting to make an explosive device. Those who plan criminal acts must remember that law enforcement officers have ample opportunity to find them and bring them to justice”.

7 February 2014

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/world/20140206/993471622.html

http://ria.ru/world/20140206/993518864.html

http://ria.ru/world/20140207/993543704.html

http://ria.ru/world/20140207/993580170.html

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20140207/187287869/US-Accuses-Russia-of-Leaking-Diplomat-Conversation-on-Ukraine.html

http://ria.ru/world/20140207/993555977.html

http://ria.ru/world/20140207/993603585.html

Editor’s Note:

Watch for the USA to backtrack even more. Firstly, the intercepted phone call proved that the USA was pissing on its partners. Yes, everyone knows the haughty hubris and childish arrogance of the Amerikantsy… they get their nicks in a knot every time that their interlocutor doesn’t kiss their arse and treat them like uncrowned royalty. Secondly, the explosion and the later cover-up by the oppos showed that more violence is on the way, courtesy of the USA and EU. The USA has a lotta damned gall to speak of “new lows” after its proven role in many provocations throughout the world. Thirdly, the USA is deeply in hock to China due to the hellishly expensive warmongering of the Bush years. GWB (and Republicans, in general, supported him) fought two wars on tick… whilst cutting taxes for the rich. That’s incompetence, recklessness, and irresponsibility… and such people call themselves “conservative!” Excuse me whilst I hurl. In short, China has a veto over American disorderliness… the USA can’t afford to go against it (for China could bollix the USA by refusing to buy new bonds or by dumping its present holdings on the market).

The Western gambit failed. There’s still a bit more to go before it’s all over, but the Western attempt to tear the Ukraine away from Russia is a non-starter. The Orthosphere is still intact… for now. Remember, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is the spiritual son of Elder Zosima Sokur (he also makes an annual unpublicised otpust to the Holy Mountain, where the Fathers back him unreservedly)… he’s not a follower of Ayn Rand nor does he kiss the Pope of Rome’s bum as the Uniates do. That is, he’s a strong Orthodox Christian, but he doesn’t wear his belief on his sleeve for all to see. In this fight, he’s the ONLY true Son of the Church in the mix. Remember that when you ponder which side to support. If you’re Orthodox, you’ll support Viktor Fyodorovich and NOT the oppos… if you back the oppos, you deny your faith (yes, it’s that serious… the legit Church is behind V F Yanukovich, and don’t you forget it), you show yourself an effectual Uniate.

Support the UOC/MP… support the KPU… support the REAL Ukrainian people. Support President Yanukovich… freedom IS in the balance.

One last thing… State Department PR hack flack Psaki used the word “tradecraft”… that’s intel jargon. That means that she’s a spook or that she’s in contact with spooks (like Potapov is). Your slip is showing, dear…

BMD

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