Articles on Russia

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A nod to the failed opening of the fifth ring in the opening ceremony featured in the closing ceremony … but the underlying cultural aspects are fascinating. ifindkarma/Flickr (cropped)

Sochi’s closing ceremony: the art, the circus and the spectacle

Tasked with winding down the over-exuberance of the build-up, Olympics closing ceremonies always have an anti-climactic tone. Terrorists from the Caucasus failed to disrupt the Sochi event, and the most…
With the world’s eyes on Russia, anti-gay sentiment hasn’t alleviated. Flickr/jantangerine

A gay old time? Social media lessons from Russia

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi draw to a close, a brief survey of trending topics across social media and international press reveal some entertaining and frightening contradictions on the slippery slopes…
A protester plays the piano atop a burned-out bus in Kiev. Ввласенко

How could the EU do more for Ukraine?

When in Kiev recently I asked many Ukrainians how they thought the raging political and now violent conflict would end. All said they had no idea, but one of them said he had eight scenarios, which included…
After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. Christiaan Triebert

No end in sight as Syria misery spreads across region

The second round of the Geneva II talks on Syria have ended with no agreement and without even a decision on the date of a further meeting. The highly experienced UN mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, was clearly…
Glimpses of horror: while the West watches, Syria burns. SIcco2007

Syrians suffer as world plays politics with humanitarian aid

The humanitarian crisis in Syria is no longer news. It is simple fact: tragedy writ large, as cities burn and lives are ruined. Our eyes may widen at the sheer scale of this destruction: four million people…
The lesser known ‘faces’ of Pussy Riot. Igor Mukhin at ru.wikipedia

Pussy Riot arrest at Sochi reinforces their cult status

It wasn’t long between spells in jail for two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were briefly arrested at the Sochi Olympics, having only been released…
Sochi as a media spectacle has epitomised Vladimir Putin’s aspirations for his Russia. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

Sochi on screen: how Russia is being sold to Russians

All modern Olympics employ directors who stage-manage the huge spectacle of the Games – and Sochi 2014 is no different. So what does this stage management tell us, internationally, and what is it intended…
Illegal dumping in the Mzymta River from Sochi’s building frenzy. sochiwatch

Sochi Olympics have left a trail of environmental destruction

The reports from Sochi’s newly built hotels and Olympic Village have not painted their construction in the best light, with tales of doors that wouldn’t open, yellow drinking water, and collapsing fixtures…
Krasnaya Polanya, the site of the Sochi 2014 games, has long been a haunt of Russian artists and intellectuals. EPA/Michael Kappeler

Writing the Caucasus: Sochi and Russia’s literary retreats

Sochi – currently hosting the Winter Olympics – looks like the beach resort it is, situated on the blue waters of the east coast of the Black Sea, and enjoying a sub-tropical climate. There is what looks…
The pomp and glamour of the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony didn’t quite project an accurate version of Russian history. Flickr/Kristy Yang Photography

Looking through the spectacle, Olympic opening ceremonies can rewrite history

The role of an Olympic opening ceremony is twofold – it is a place to show off to the world and it is a place to converse with your own citizens. So what did the grand opening ceremony to the Sochi Winter…
Faster, Higher, Stronger … Safer?

Keeping Sochi secure is Putin’s most serious challenge

One thing dominates the Sochi Olympics as nothing else: the towering summits of the Caucasus mountains. To begin with, it may strike a first-time visitor as strange that this seaside resort is to host…
BFFs: IOC President Thomas Bach and Vladimir Putin. David Goldman/AP

Russia and the IOC are the perfect match

Nationalism is the main event at any Olympic Games, and the Olympic industry relies on the goosebumps effects of the sporting spectacle to divert public attention from its less attractive underbelly, in…
If this can be a winter wonderland, freedom of speech can exist in Russia. Ganoshenko Roman

Press freedom at Sochi is more than a distant Olympic dream

Yes, there they were: palm trees in the place where a country known for its cruelly cold winters was planning to hold the Winter Olympics. What a treat it was to feel the mild air of the Black Sea coast…
This ‘skating palace’ was a snip at $98m. Atos International

Olympic-style mega-events reach new frontiers, at a cost

There is a tendency – almost a law of nature – that governs the way the costs of large-scale international events such as the football World Cup and Olympic Games far outstrip the initial forecasts of…
From orange to blue and yellow: Ukraine’s protesters fly the EU flag front and centre. AP

Ukraine’s opposition needs help from Europe’s 89 generation

I will never forget the 12 hours I spent in the Ukrainian women’s prison in Kharkiv. Never in my life have I seen such misery or degrading treatment of prisoners, Nor will I forget my brief conversation…

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