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Sochi Olympics, Ukraine, and the Media

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By:Eugene Girin | February 18, 2014

One of the biggest accomplishments of the Sochi Olympics has been its role in dousing the fires of the unrest in Ukraine - a fiery sequence of events that took the woefully unstable country to the brink of civil war. Crowds of bloodthirsty hooligans, goaded on by the terrible trio of anti-Yanukovych leaders (Tyahnybok, Yatsenyuk, and Klitschko), were seizing administrative buildings throughout Ukraine and fighting vicious street battles with the police. The shaken up Yanukovych seemed on the brink of collapse.

And then, with the commencement of the Winter Olympics, the world's media attention swiftly shifted from Kiev to Sochi. With the world media's eyes on Sochi's stadiums and away from Kiev's Independence Square, the intensity of the anti-Yanukovych protests rapidly cooled down. All of the sudden, the protestors accepted an amnesty from the government and began to clear out seized government buildings. Apparently, when malevolent troublemakers like the Ukrainian protesters are deprived of the adoring presence of the Western media, they calm down and become at least slightly less rabid. The same was true of those other rabid troublemakers - the Palestinians, whose stone-throwing fervor was in direct proportion to the presence of sympathetic Western journalists.

Another thing is readily apparent about the Western media: unlike the old Soviet Union, which was treated respectfully, if not reverently by the mainstream networks, Russia is portrayed as an object of scorn and ridicule: a failed, menacing, disagreeably exotic country. Consider one of the latest BBC special features on the Sochi Olympics: a brief article on a Siberian shaman who danced around the fire and conjured for the Russian team's success. Snow, shamans, Siberia - a typical set of ignorant Western assumptions about Russia. Only the bear and balalaika are missing.

Comments

 

 
Thomas Fleming
Rockford
2/18/2014 04:03 PM
 

  Where the American Right went totally off the rails was in their interpretation of the Left as being simply pro-Soviet or pro-Communist. In fact, their primary orientation was toward social, cultural, moral, and economic revolution. Since Russia today is, when compared with the revolutionary USA, reactionary, these people will always oppose Russia. Naturally, they exempt Uganda, because promoting Africans over Europeans is high on the list.

 
 
Louis
San Antonio
2/19/2014 04:13 AM
 

  Perhaps if everyone ignores the people in Washington, D.C. they will go away also, but I doubt it.

 
 
John Achterhof
Jenison
2/19/2014 02:44 PM
 

  Looks like you couldn't be more wrong in your speculation as to what motivates/concerns the Ukrainians in the streets. Why such contempt - deeper than any criticism of their pursuits - for those willing to put their own lives at risk out of of a concern for the future of their society? An observation I made some time ago comes to mind - that those possessed of elitism typically have themselves modest talent.

 
 
TJF
Rockford
2/19/2014 03:36 PM
 

  If one listens to NPR long enough, one comes to believe that the streets of Kiev are filled with righteous idealists who only want democracy. Who knows what any violent revolutionary wants--apart from the obvious, which is violence. Ukraine is a divided country obviously, and this pro-Russian administration has the misfortune to have hostile Kiev as its capital. In much of the country, however, it enjoys majority support. Of course the Russians back the regime, and just as of course the CIA and the EU are supporting the protestors. The government is corrupt, say the protestors, but the opposition, when in power, has shown itself to be at least equally corrupt. Whatever is going on in that poor country, it is not a case where self-righteous indignation is in order.

 
 
Eugene Girin
Forest Hills
2/19/2014 06:15 PM
 

  The "Ukrainians in the street" are actually Galician radicals, drunk on Russophobia, Polonophobia, and anti-semitism. What motivates them is a desire for a Ukraine, which is on the one hand, cleansed of "Muscovites" and "kikes" (the preferred terms of Oleh Tyahnybok - one of the opposition's leaders), and an on the hand is a welcome member of the EU "family of nations". Out of all the rabid, crazed nationalisms of Eastern Europe, the Galician/Western Ukrainian one is only surpassed by the Croatian in its bloodthirsty vehemence. Yet this vehemence is coupled with a remarkable cowardice when met with resistance, a cowardice which leads them to run to the Eurocrats and the State Department, crying for help when they are losing the fight. What other response than contempt do the anti-Yanukovych forces deserve?

 
 
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