by Patrick Armstrong
OLYMPICS. A triumph, no question about it, with the added unexpected pleasure for Russia of topping the medal list. A Levada poll showed something less than enthusiasm at the start: 53% were glad Russia was hosting but 26% were not. Bet there’s more support now! Perhaps connected is a poll rating that puts Putin up to 68% approval. So, after all the toilets, fake pictures, (intentional fakes too), breathless warnings, subtropical, they were safe, everybody had a private toilet and food, the athletes seem to have enjoyed themselves. Will Western opinioneers and media outlets admit to getting it wrong? (“Sochi has been utter embarrassment for Vladimir Putin”). Silly question: “away from all the cameras, there are still many glaring questions”, “these games were anything but carefree”. I believe they went too far: in the event, millions and millions of viewers have seen the Western MSM's coverage of Russia revealed to be largely lies and propaganda and the happy, modern ordinary Russians shown are a contrast to the grey, miserable, downtrodden Russians we're told about. So, while they are indeed only sports, the Games’ success is another bucket of paint remover thrown at the Western portrait of Russia.
CORRUPTION. Investigations chew away: an investigation into fraud at the Defence Ministry re-opened upon new testimony. Perhaps connected is a report that the former minister seeks amnesty. Seven generals and admirals investigated last year for corruption. A senior official in Interior Ministry detained over claims of bribery and abuse of office. Another senior Interior Ministry official dismissed with no reason given.