The opening ceremony, which stunned and impressed the skeptical West, will probably be the most interesting part of the Sochi Olympics. The ceremony was Putin's Russia's attempt to re-introduce herself to the world and show that it's neither the old Soviet Union, nor the wrecked, pitiful Russia of Yeltsin.
The musical introduction with the Russian alphabet representing key Russian cultural icons was obviously geared toward the West. After all, Malevich (the letter "M"), Kandinsky (the letter "K"), and Chagall (the letter "?") are Russian-born emigre painters much more popular abroad than in Russia. In fact, they only became known to most Russians after the collapse of the USSR. The Olympic organizers were obviously at great pains to keep it as palatable to the West as possible - hence, no remotely controversial figures were featured.
The annoying nasal voice of David Remnick interfered with the ceremony, as did the ignorant baying of Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera. Ironically, Remnick who like most liberal New York Jews is both terrified of Russia and feels a deep contempt for her, was silent when the proudly Jewish Marc Chagall was announced as one of the great symbols of Russia.
The Russian desire to please the West was also evident when the Russian team marched out to a song by the musical group "t.A.T.u." - a pair of foul-mouthed girls who portrayed themselves as proud lesbians (one of these wretched wenches later married a Tajik businessman and converted to Islam). I'm not saying that the Russian team should've marched out to a Soviet military march or a Russian Orthodox hymn, but surely there were songs more appropriate to such a momentous event. Far from displaying anti-Western bellicosity, as the mainstream media would have us believe, Russia seems too eager to please.
A few other observations. Unsurprisingly, Team USA demonstrated our youth's immaturity to the whole world. Apparently, it was too much to expect that the young people representing our country to the whole world would put away their smart phones for a few minutes and refrain from jumping up and down like apes while endlessly taking "selfies". Also, with a few exceptions (Andorra is the one that comes to mind), the Olympic uniforms were remarkably ugly - especially the German rainbow-colored contraption. Finally, the seating of world leaders seemed haphazardly random: China's Xi Jinping was seated between Tajikistan's Emomali ("Imam Ali") Rahmon and Serbia's Tomislav Nikolic. Of course, the NBC correspondents were too busy making dumb comments to point out the various foreign leaders in the audience.
Eugene Girin is a New York-based attorney and commentator.