Putin's aggression against >Ukrainians continues to undermine his oft-repeated claim that >Russians play by the international rules. Which just validates our own sidestepping of treaty and protocol. All of which concerns us because it may be setting the region up for a destructive confrontation. Hopefully Ukrainians can find a middle ground between Western and Russian alignment.
It was an impressively beautiful opening ceremony, projecting the high culture and artistry of Russia more than their international power (risked life of 11-year-old notwithstanding). On a stage like this, it's understandable that they presented Soviet-era brutality in very abstract terms. But even in those terms, some of the scenes were very utilitarian, cold and almost unhuman, making them some of the darkest in recent Olympics opening ceremony performances. Overall, fine job, >Russians.
We are appalled by the numerous killings of dogs being carried out at the behest of the government. It's not like the >Russians found out yesterday that they'd be hosting the Olympics. They've had years to address this problem, and yet they've chosen to be reactive rather than proactive about this ethical issue. Russia has a long way to go before earning the respect of the international community.
We find the treatment of gays in Russia horrifying. (See attached video.) This is not a civil society. This is a backward-looking society that refuses to accept reality of any kind. It doesn't look like this will change anytime soon. The struggle for equality continues in America, and the gains currently achieved were hard-won. But with proactive government opposition, it seems the struggle will be much harder in Russia. The only recourse may unfortunately be to wait for the culture of the >Russians that champions conformity and nationalism to reach some self-destructive extreme, after which the pendulum of civility can swing back the other way.
We're glad the Pussy Riot members were released, despite the political circumstances leading up to the Sochi Olympics. But we continue to remain baffled about why the >russians don't do more to demand greater democratic controls. Is it pride? Fear? Skepticism of democracy? American democracy is admitedly imperfect, but that doesn't mean they should not strive for something better than the stifling, dehumanizing, de facto authoritarianism of Putin.