On one thing, at least, Vladimir Putin and I can agree: this week has been uphill work.
In just seven, action-packed days, we’ve gone from Russia Redux to Russia Redundant. To recap: the harbinger of doom (dark figure skating costume; dark words) Evgeny Plushenko pulled out of the men’s short program, putting paid to any hope of a medal for Russia.
Then there was a hockey game that didn’t end well…and, oh right, another one that ended equally badly.
On Tuesday, tensions mounted in Kiyv at the Euromaidan Square, yanking all media attention away from the Olympics. The cool journalist crowd abandoned Sochi, their relief palpable for a story that was far more “hot and cool and theirs.” In an eerie coincidence (or not?), at the same time, the Pussy Riot gals arrived in Sochi and were immediately arrested, manhandled by the Sochi cops, released, and the center of the remaining media circus. It was welcome grist to NBC’s mill. Check out these amazing images from American photographer, Lisa Shukov, who spent part of this week on the Maidan:
The Russian economy also seems to be under the weather. Taken altogether, I can’t think that this is what Putin had in mind for the week of February 17th.
A cote de chez Eremeev, HRH and I have been tiptoeing across the minefield of our Russian-American marriage. The events have sparked such heated lively debate between HRH and myself, that I am contemplating cancelling our cable service. The hockey, I expected (come on, didn’t you?), but everything else has come out of left field. The only thing we can agree on is that the cheesy “Laaaaaaaaaannnnnndon” accent of the Russian female RT anchor is quite simply unbearable.
A lot of thoughts have occurred to me, but instead of blurting them out, I’ve chosen instead to maintain domestic tranquility by jotting them down in a notebook, or tweeting them, which is the same thing, really, since HRH hasn’t got a clue about Twitter.
A few random (unspoken) thoughts on the Olympics:
1. If Russia is so gung-ho about its LGBT stance, perhaps it’s time to rethink those really rather silly Bosco uniforms? If I were a grown man and a badass world champion Luge dude, I would flat out refuse to wear that stuff.
2. Of course That Goal in That Hockey Game counts. What is this, third grade dodge ball or something?
3. Enough already about Evgenii Plushenko and his guided missile wife.
4. Quite often, the Sochi snow looks rather suspiciously like slush to me.
5. Johnny Weir is hands down the coolest thing about the Sochi Olympics. HRH, of course, has no idea who Johnny Weir is and would be absolutely horrified if he found out.
6. Of course it takes an American to win gold in the snowboarding.
7. Could we have, like, 5 minutes of real news every now and then?
What I did say aloud, and often, was: “God, that little 15-year-old from Ekaterinburg is amazing.”
Alas, on Wednesday night, that well ran dry…until a 17-year-old teenager stepped up to take her place. Thank God.
HRH and I agreed long ago to not discuss Pussy Riot at all, ever, so obviously we’ve avoided any discussion about this topic (although, between you and me, readers? I have to feel that the Sochi constabulary and the Cossacks – The Cossacks! — walked right into that one). But regarding the situation in what I call “Kiyv” and HRH calls “Kiev”* we have not held back.
HRH, who is incredibly cynical at the best of times, is positively vitriolic about the motivation of the protestors. He says the evocative “I am a Ukrainian” YouTube video of the girl with the amazing eyebrows is really some actress, paid for by the US State Department. The protestors, he informs me, are also paid for with my tax dollars, they are lower class hooligans, and their actions constitute lawless terrorism.
You won’t be surprised, readers, to learn that my sympathies lie totally on the side of the protestors. Of course they do. Euromaidan is an apple, Yanukovych is a PC. The protestors’ motivation seems very clear to me, elegantly outlined in this really thoughtful post, “Imagine You are A Ukrainian” by Anna Colin Lebedev.
Euromaidan is an Apple; Yanukovych is a PC.
So the end of the week finds us also straining to engage in “constructive dialog” as we diplomatically click between CNN and Vesti-24 to piece together a fair and balanced sense on what is actually happening.
And when this fails? We watch the curling. So very soothing.
Readers, are you watching events unfold in Kiyv? How to you think the situation will pan out? And more importantly, which men’s hockey team do you think will clinch the gold? Weigh in by hitting the comment button below![hr]
Don’t forget that Sunday is not only the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, it’s also Men’s Day, otherwise known as Defenders of the Fatherland Day. As readers of Lenin Lives Next Door know, this is what Jesus calls “Mantsday,” and finds a great excuse to visit the EvroIntime. I’m hoping HRH may bring home another chocolate casino and that I can somehow get out of going to the Alexander Palace for herring under fur coat.
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*Ukrainians adopted Ukrainian as their official language after declaring their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Previously, the official language of the region in both the Imperial and Soviet eras was Russian. While incredibly similar, there are subtle differences in the alphabet and pronunciation of some words: Kiev (pronounced Key-yehv with the emphasis on the first syllable, became Kiyv (pronounced Keeev). Russians who seek to underscore the vassal state status of Ukraine ignore these spelling changes, as well as the choice of preposition “B” or “HA” to indicate a domestic or international location. It’s complicated, but I find it fascinating.