Beautiful Sochi: Come for the terrorism, stay for the garbage

An interesting battle broke out yesterday between Putin apologists and the online community at Reddit.

Sadly for Putin, Reddit won.

You see, it all started when someone by the name of “Eye-Have-You” posted a link on Reddit to a series of “you are there” photos of Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Winter Olympics are taking place in only two weeks.

russia-sochi

The photos show Sochi to be a bit of a not-ready-for-prime-time mess, with unfinished buildings and garbage everywhere. Soch is the most expensive Olympics in history, with over $50 billion in costs, of which perhaps half have been reportedly stolen.  Here are only a few of the photos that were posted, with a decidedly Russian accent to the captions IMHO:

garbage-sochi

Beautiful Sochi: Come for the terrorism, stay for the garbage.

unfinished-sochi unfinished-hotel-sochi

But then the Putin-philes struck back and posted their own photos of a fabulously-finished Sochi:

russia-fights-back

What did the naysayers forget to show you?  Well, there’s Sochi’s gorgeous press center (in fact, there are so many photos of the press center that you kind of wonder what else is finished):sochi-press-center

And some bleachers in a stadium, somewhere:

sochi-bleachers

And best of all, Sochi’s world-famous 800 year old castle that sits beautifully on the Mediterranean, and Sochi’s gorgeous old Catholic church that’s just a convenient short walk from the sea.

malta-castle-sochi

sochi-church-maltaThe only problem, of course, is that Sochi is on the Black Sea, not the Mediterranean – a good 600 miles or so away.

And as for that castle and church – they’re actually in Malta. Which might account for why that other guy “forgot to show you” them:

malta-castle

Fort Saint Angelo de La Valette, Malta (credit: Larmignatl)

So, I suspect you won’t be surprised to hear that this gorgeous rotunda isn’t in Sochi either.

sochi-rotunda

Yep, you guessed it: Malta.

Malta's Rotunda, via Shutterstock

Malta’s Rotunda, via Shutterstock

Now, sure, maybe two weeks out from the Olympics there’s still not even electricity yet in Sochi to turn on the street lights:

sochi-no-power

And maybe the sidewalks still need a bit of work:

sochi-sidewalks

But nobody holds a candle to the Russians when it comes to building those beautiful old forts:

for-manoel-not-sochi-2

Well, except the Maltese:

fort-manoel-malta-not-sochi

Fort Manoel, Malta via Shutterstock


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Ryan Ewing

    Your analogy lacks any sort of context. We’re talking about a city that had $51 billion thrown at it for the sole purpose of preparing for this global spotlight. It’s like showing up for a beauty pageant wearing a body-length Tweety Bird nightshirt and velcro shoes.

  • Ryan Ewing

    Do you think any other city wouldn’t have done the same? I hate to think what countries like Russia and China did to their homeless population to prepare.

  • Jim

    Hey you give Detroit $51 B and it will be able to… Well at least we have snow here!

  • Russian

    Dear Mike,
    Absolutely understandable, life is changing, everything is moving and getting new forms and looks, never say never :) !!!

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    There was a time that I would have loved to visit many places in Russia. However, like many others on this blog, I am gay. Russian laws concerning gay people will keep me away. I suspect I wouldn’t be in any danger of arrest, but I would not want to give any financial help to Russia. I think I will look into visiting Malta.

  • Russian

    I am Russian, living and born in Moscow, and often visit Sochi.
    Can say that Nature in Sochi is one of the most beautiful ( and I have been in many countries). Someone asked, where is the snow?! The snow is in the mountains, it is about 2 hours from the sea coast. Nor I have visited Sochi in April, and it was +15C-20 – weary warm near the sea, but in the mountains there was a snow about a 50 sm. high.
    Who is going to use this construction after he Olympics? – Russian tourists. Believe it or not, but a lot of Russians like to go to Sochi for a short visit, especially considering that we don’t need visas.

    I am far from politics and believe in respecting people and nations! Russia or any other countries has its pluses and minuses.

    Come and see it yourself , then you can say “from my experience…” Come and meet people, come and visit Sochi , at least go to google search and find images of Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana nature and buildings, you can even find webcams that will show you Krasnaya Polyana( where Olympic will be) in the real time.

    Best wishes to Everyone!!!! :)

  • Outspoken1

    The IOC (who is really responsible for this debacle) made rules that if a country boycotts an Olympics, they are banned from the next Olympics. So the US will not boycott. I feel so sorry for the athletes in the lesser known sports who have sacrificed so much to be f**ked-over by the IOC and Russians.

  • 4th Turning

    Just read down through all 56. Everyone has missed the unspoken obvious. Finally, the “playing
    field” is levelled in favor of all 3rd world athletes. They will think accommodations luxurious and have
    practiced their hearts and bodies out in far less sophisticated Colorado-style facilities/conditions.
    I hope they get a bunch of gold medals they can actually take back home for keeps
    (the usual sudden, last minute disqualifications notwithstanding). Go Jamaica!!!

  • 1jetpackangel

    That post is not on his Tumblr. He says he took it down himself.

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Yeah, but this infrastructure is crumbling and it’s just been built!

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Wow.

    Putting aside the ethics of the people who posted pictures of other places claiming to be Sochi, you have to wonder just what the IOC was thinking.

    This looks to be a debacle in the making. Pictures on a computer screen have a way of miniaturizing things. Imagine what this looks like in person. There’s no way that they can get all of this done in two weeks. It will be interesting to hear the tales of woe to emerge from the tourists who do brave this place.

    Furthermore, this is a winter Olympics. Where’s the snow?

    Why do people do this? In the best of developed countries, these facilities that are built for this one purpose are unused after the Olympics and fall into dilapidation. Being as this is Russia, the effect will be amplified by an order of magnitude. Wait, scratch that – they’re already dilapidated and they’re brand new.

    I read Johnny Balfour’s account posted by Kartski below. How in the hell do these people think that they are going to pull this off? They simply can’t. This will be known in the future as the Olympics that set the standard for disaster.

    Why is this even being done? Incredible amounts of money wasted for this? There was an episode of The Simpsons that had the boys renting a car and stopping in Knoxville, Kentucky for the World’s fair, which, unbeknownst to them, had happened several years prior. What they found was a collapsing “Sun Sphere” (since turned into the “Wig Sphere”) and a virtually abandoned city. This is far worse than something that the writers of The Simpsons could ever dream up. And it’s real and it hasn’t even started yet.

    Yeesh!

  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Wisconsin’s Walker – paving the road backward toward indentured servitude.

  • Ninong

    John,

    Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich arrived in Moscow Monday, Jan. 27, on a direct flight from Havana. He is now in police custody there. http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/01/leader-of-anti-gay-russian-extremist-group-back-in-russia-and-under-arrest/

  • Anonymous

    Their buildings and infrastructure are horrendous. All the result of huge amounts of tax money being stolen by politicians. I don’t find it amusing though because people wouldn’t be able to dissent if they tried. It would be off to the gulag.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Exactly so.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Garbage IN, garbage OUT.

  • Anonymous

    He (and the other leaders there) are not educated. Even citizens will tell you that they are nowhere near the caliber of 1st world leaders, just posturing as such.

  • PeteWa

    lol and ewwwww

  • PeteWa

    Why didn’t the OP show this beautiful Sochi site either:
    http://rajivawijesinha.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/taj-mahal.jpg

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Hands are free, but there’s no water.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    The whole reason Michigan got to that point was corporate looting of the public coffers, and deeply ingrained corruption of its public officials. The fascists just took advantage of the weakness that took years of ineptitude to develop.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Yeah… like how during the Salt Lake City “clean up” they bulldozed and blocked off the areas where most of the ~2,000 homeless of the city live and spend their time. Or how thousands of low-rent apartments and motels evicted their tenants so they could charge inflated prices to people visiting for the Olympics. Increasing the demand for emergency shelter tenfold. Security was ramped up, so sleeping in the streets or hopping a train out of town were all but impossible. To the point where the city had to open a warehouse near the train depot so they had some place to stash the homeless people while the Games took place. Before the Olympics, the mayor of Las Vegas actually accused Salt Lake City of shipping their homeless to Nevada, to clean up the city. Those people who came to the city in hope of temporary work often found themselves being paid a pittance to do things like pick up trash and clean toilets, to make sure things had a nice facade for the tourists and press.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Michigan’s solution is corporate fascism: negating democratic home rule, confiscating infrastructure and whole cities.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I live in Minneapolis, and it certainly tends to be an attractive city. Then a bridge collapsed in the middle of the city.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “You can start with Detroit” It’s tradition and has been that way for at least thirty years . Sochi is a slum for the future.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Iz somethenk fishy goienk on.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    I think if you examine each situation, the same kind of corruption leads to the same kind of systemic decline, no matter where you look. It’s not a country-specific problem, it’s rich oligarchs seizing control of the system, only to bleed it dry. Those people who are profiting off of leaving cities in ruin, and don’t care if government becomes incapable of providing even the most basic of services to their citizens.

  • mirror

    “Previously unused”? LOL! Wish my brain were that limber.

  • sword

    The same reason so many people watch auto races…not so interested in seeing who wins…but more interested to see if/when a crash occurs.

  • lynchie

    Sorry John, didn’t see your link. Wasn’t trying to duplicate.

  • Ninong

    It’s considered to be a “developing country.” It’s part of the BRIC group of developing countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). They’re not in the same category as the US, Canada or most of the European Union countries. Some of the EU countries have no business being in that coalition because they cannot compete with the likes of Germany.

    Russia wasted too much of her energy and resources trying to keep up with the US militarily for seven decades. Then when they finally decided to abandon Communism and switch to free-market capitalism, all of Yeltsin’s buddies became overnight billionaires. Many of them were simply low-level government functionaries who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

    Crime is rampart. Alcoholism (“demon vodka”) is rampant. The obvious gap between the haves and the have-nots is worse than in the US.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Previously unused toilet paper costs a little more.

  • Ninong

    A few months ago I was reading (thanks to Google Translate) the personal VK page of an early-20-something gay Russian amateur athlete (who is officially not out for his own protection). It was very interesting. He and several of his friends were discussing the enhanced security measures Putin had ordered (by executive order) in the region surrounding Sochi. They lived in that region, so they had credentials showing that they were residents. One of the points they discussed was that, in their opinion, Putin had violated the Russian Federation’s constitution in his unilateral declaration of restrictions on the free movement of Russian citizens in and out of the area.

    Anyway, it was an interesting read and informative in the way openly gay Russians post comments online without ever admitting their obvious sexual orientation. It’s pretty obvious when you post photos of yourself and your ‘roommate’ taking vacations together in various different resorts over the past several years without ever showing any girlfriend photos. Almost all of their friends were guys and the few photos of women obviously had their own ‘girlfriends.’

    Clearly Russia under Putin is moving in the direction of dictatorship. What will it take for him to unilaterally grant himself expanded executive powers? Maybe just an act of terrorism?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I see from his post that he’s heading home, which he takes care to say is by his own choice.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Wow… just wow.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Or you could, you know, click the same link that’s at the beginning of my post ;-)

  • Ninong

    Wow! Just wow! What a dump!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Ah yes, Malta and the Mediterranean — a city and region so very well known for their snow and winter sports.

    Come to think of it, it’s two weeks to the Sochi winter Olympics and while I’m seeing dreary awfulness and mud, what I’m not seeing — in the actual photos of Sochi — is much in the way of snow…

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Maybe, but I doubt you’d see that kind of mess at the site where the US was hosting the Olympics in only 2 weeks, and after spending $50 billion. The way Putin has handled this is very third world, and I use the pejorative intentionally.

  • Indigo

    I’ve got friends who attempted to work in Moscow a few years ago who tell stories much like yours. Some won’t believe you, others will try to make it sound all nicey-nice after all, but from what I’ve heard before, you’re telling it like it is. Thank you.

  • HolyMoly

    Same here in Norfolk, VA. Huge potholes, cracks everywhere. Except in the wealthier neighborhoods (coincidentally), which I’ve seen get paved 2 or 3 times over the years compared to zero times in the poorer neighborhoods. Schools, community rec centers, libraries? The same scenario. Went into a library in a poor neighborhood looking for something to read, and I’m not exaggerating when I say their entire collection is in a room not much larger than my living room. Less than 10 history books total. Go to the well-to-do library — much larger, tons of books. An entire wall full of history books. Downtown where the skyscrapers (mostly banks) are located is the most well-kept area in the city. It’s also where these huge companies reside, virtually tax-free (“business-friendly,” you know).

  • Indigo

    Or any interstate highway.

  • nicho

    I have no sympathy for Russia, but for someone from the US to talk about crumbling infrastructure and roadside trash is a little hypocritical. Just take a drive through some areas of the US and it will make Sochi look like paradise. You can start with Detroit. Large swaths of the US are shitholes.

  • mirror

    Balfour’s tumblr is active again. Worth a peek.

    http://johnniebalfour.tumblr.com/

  • jomicur

    I have absolutely no intention of watching this Olympics, but I’ll be following it quite assiduously in the news. Human rights violations aside,of course, and I hope like hell they don’t happen, the Putin Olympics has the potential of offering the same guilty pleasure as a terrible movie or dreadful theater. Vladimir Putin: the Ed Wood Jr. of sports!

  • jomicur

    And the tourist from the next room will be sharing a double toilet stall with you. Toilet paper is a reasonable $200 extra, plus tip.

  • mirror

    It’s pretty scary, isn’t it? I can see why the Ukrainian rank and file might wish desperately to have their future linked with the EU instead of Russia.

  • jomicur

    And, I’d bet. even compared to other places in Russia.

  • mirror

    Wow, Sochi is clearly going to go far worse than I ever imagined. This has all the earmarks of a humiliating debacle. Perhaps even a fiasco for the ages. Now, I’m getting interested.

  • Duke Woolworth

    My forebears left eastern Yurp (including Siberia) over a century ago. None have ever returned, nor will I. Malta? That’s another story.

  • Bomer

    Considering what Sochi looks like I think I would be trying to pretend I lived in Malta too. Eeeesh.

  • lynchie

    Here are some more pictures to scroll through. It shows a city months or years away from completion and is just like you imagine russia to be. The stone age putting on the Olympics.

    http://imgur.com/a/0muGY#RKJUij1

  • Drew2u

    OtoH, it’s probably luxurious compared to other places in the world. =

  • Drew2u

    In Putin’s Russia, You pay Russia!

  • kartski

    Johnny Balfour is there to help design the Ski and Snow Board Cross Venue. He had this on his Tumbler Page before it shutdown:

    Sochi Update Number 1

    Sochi Update. January 21, 2014

    I arrived in Frankfurt feeling like I had been hit by a bus. I had an
    old lady sitting behind me who used my seat as a handle to get up out of
    her seat, and she got up A LOT.

    No sleep for me on that leg of the trip.

    I headed to the gate for my flight with Aeroflot to Moscow then on to
    Sochi. No boarding pass for me. I wasn’t even listed as a passenger. So
    while they sorted that out, I logged into the wifi and checked my emails
    to see what the plan was for when I arrived at Sochi. I needed to know
    how I was getting to my hotel. At this point, I didn’t even know the
    name or address of the hotel. This is pretty important information when
    you are travelling alone in a foreign country.

    The email I received, just added to the confusion. I was told that there
    would be nobody to meet me and there was a bus schedule attached with
    some very poor instructions.

    At the last minute, the girl at the counter just hand wrote me boarding
    pass, I chugged some water and she shoved me through the door. I guess
    that’s how Aeroflot works. This would be last fluids I would get for the
    next 24 hours.

    You know when you see the truck on the highway full of cows all just
    shoved in there, piled up on each other? Well that is how Aeroflot
    works, I’ve never been so squashed and uncomfortable on a flight before.
    There was no safety demostration, no food or drink service, nothing!

    I somehow arrived at Moscow in one piece and was met by an army of
    volunteers in Sochi 2014 uniforms, they checked my accreditation and I
    was swept through the airport like a rockstar. From the moment I exited
    the aircraft to the moment I boarded the next one, I had a volunteer
    with me. I was escorted though all check points, customs, bagagge claim,
    baggage check for my next flight by an attractive Russian girl who
    pushed me to the front of every line, all the while talking to me in
    Russian. I have absolutely no idea what she said the whole time but the
    whole process only took about 20 minutes from plane to plane. This has
    been the only efficient thing I have seen so far.

    I boarded another Aeroflot flight and was squashed next to two huge
    Russian guys who looked exactly like the Russian gangster stereotype
    that you see in movies. Six foot tall and six foot wide with leather
    jackets that are way to tight. Hooray, another comfortable flight.

    Once I land in Sochi, everything becomes a mystery. I still have no idea where I am staying or how I am getting there.

    Sochi airport just a small domestic terminal and doesn’t look finished.
    It was pretty simple to get through the place and grab my bags. I
    spotted a Sochi 2014 desk surrounded by volunteers and attempted to ask
    what the hell I do now. I got blank stares. One girl finally stepped up
    with her hand out and said “Accreditaion”. She checked my accreditation
    and said, “No this is wrong, you must get it fixed”. I finally worked
    out that she was telling me to go to the main office at the resort of
    Rosa Kutor and work it out. She then turned her back and walked off
    leaving me standing there completely lost. Well, I guess I should try
    this bus schedule.

    Just before I walked out of the main doors and into the rain, I was
    grabbed by yet another volunteer. “Name! you tell me name now!” I
    complied and was told to wait. A couple of minutes later I was met by
    Oleg, the sport manager for snowboard and skicross. I was then piled
    into a car and we were off and a ridiculous speed in the pouring rain
    and fog and on the wrong side of the road for most of the time. There
    were police everywhere who didn’t even give us a sideways glance as we
    ripped past them at light speed on the wrong side of the road.

    We pull into a driveway of a block of buildings that look like a council
    housing estate in England. It looks like it was built 50 years ago, not
    2. The road is half built and there is mud and water pouring down the
    street off the mountain. This place is a dump and looks like it could
    fall down at any moment. I am pulled from the car and shoved in front of
    a pimply kid seated behind a plastic table. He is surrounded by boxes
    of building supplies and broken tiles, the place smells of concrete
    dust. Pimple kid hands me a key and points at the next building, “Top
    floor, room 10”. I turn to leave, “No, you come”. He drags me to another
    room full of folded laundry, he hands me a two sheets, a pillow case
    and a roll of toilet paper. As I am signing for my issued bedding and
    toilet paper, I feel like I am back in the army, this is exactly like
    basic training. I didn’t sign up to go through that again!

    I enter my room and my heart sinks, this is no hotel. There are two
    small metal framed beds in the centre of the room with thin mattresses
    leaning against the wall. I turn to ask for some directions about
    tomorrow and find myself standing on my own.

    My “room” consists of two small rooms and a bathroom. Before I get a
    chance to explore, Nick turns up, soaking wet with a “Fuck this” look in
    his face. Turns out he got onto a bus from Sochi airport and was told
    to get off in the middle of nowhere. He stood in the pouring rain for
    almost an hour before another bus showed up. The second bus dumped him
    at a bus depot. While standing there lost, he heard a familiar voice
    “Nick!” It was our friend from home who had arrived a few days earlier.
    Somehow, Steve and Nick just bumped into each other. Luck was on Nick’s
    side. Nick and I are sharing this little room and Steve is living next
    door with the other three guys. The six of us are finally together at
    least.

    Check out the video I posted yesterday to see what our place looks like.
    We did a little rearranging of the bed situation before I made the
    video which really doesn’t show how bad this place is. The toilet
    flushes muddy water, there is no hot water, the shower floor is covered
    in dirt and mud, there was piss all over the toilet, the water is
    undrinkable (it’s brown) it’s even sketchy to brush your teeth with it
    and the idea of having internet in this place is a joke. If we want
    internet, we have to wait till we get to the mountain which is a two
    hour commute via bus and by foot. I guess I won’t be talking to Willa
    and Toby for the next month. I’m ready to just grab my bags and head
    back to the airport. We all eventually get to bed at 0300. I have still
    not eaten or had any fluids since I left Frankfurt over twelve hours
    ago.

    I’m up at 0600 and we begin our commute at 0700. No buses run until 0800
    so we stand in the dark getting rained on for almost an hour. I must
    also point out that we are just winging it at the moment, we have been
    given no directions for anything and my accreditation doesn’t work, Nick
    is in the same boat. After a short bus ride, we then have to walk to
    rest of the way. If it wasn’t for Steve who has been here for a few days
    already, we wouldn’t have found our way to the resort. Nothing is
    finished here and there is piles of garbage everywhere. Muddy water is
    pouring off the mountain and flowing through the streets and the
    coblestone pavers are all lifting up or disappearing into sink holes.
    This entire place was built in the last few years, it looks nice at
    first glance but look a little closer and you can see that it was just
    thrown together. Most of the buildings are not finished and with only
    two weeks to go before the games start, they never will be finished. It
    is pouring rain and close to 10 degrees above zero. The little snow they
    have is rapidly disappearing.

    I still haven’t eaten or had fluids and it’s been almost 20 hours. I had
    one Tic Tac this morning, it was delicious. I also haven’t showered
    since leaving home three days ago. I smell amazingly bad. WE FOUND
    MCDONALDS!!!! I’ve never been so happy to find McDonalds and even
    happier to find that it has wifi. After a quick feed a lot of water and
    some messages sent home, we head off to find the accreditation office.
    Without valid accreditation, we can’t do anything.

    The accreditation office doesn’t open till 10 so we lie in the hallway
    and wait. This is going to be the story of our day. Nick and I finally
    get into the office to be told that there is something wrong with our
    details on the computer system and we will have to wait. A few hours go
    by and we walk off to find some lunch. You guessed it, nothing is open
    because nothing is finished being built yet. We eventually find a coffee
    shop resturant type place and pick up a menu that is completely in
    Russian. They guy tells us in broken english that they make fantastic
    pizza so we order a couple of small pizzas and a small drink each. Food
    was pretty good, the bill was not. Total of the bill was 2450.00 rubles.
    That works out to $75. HOLY CRAP! I guess we will not be eating out
    anywhere over the next month.

    Back to the accreditation office to continue waiting. After convincing
    them to give me the wifi code, I log in and find a bunch of travel
    warnings popping up with increased terrorist attack warnings for Sochi
    and Rosa Kutor. Being told to avoid public transport, awesome! This just
    keeps getting better. I fall alseep on the floor.

    Finally at 1530 I am issued with my new accreditation, we can now get
    through security to the gondola and head up to the venue for a meeting
    at 1730 with the managers and to go over our contracts. What a waste of a
    day so far.

    If you think everything so far sounds bad, wait for it, it’s going to get a lot worse!

    We are seated around a big table in a boardroom. At the head of the
    table is the sport manager, his assistant and another big wig who we are
    never introduced to. At the other end of the table are the two head
    builders, Nicko and David. The rest of the table is surrounded by the
    six of us and we have big issues that need to be addressed. Hot water,
    accomodation, the commute, food etc are all briefly discussed before we
    get onto the biggest issue. How they propose to pay us.

    In the six months leading up to this moment, we have been in constant
    contact with these people, sorting out contracts, methods of payment
    etc. So far nothing has gone as planned. They have wanted to pay us into
    Russian bank accounts for a few months now and we have fought them long
    and hard on this point. Yes, you read that correctly, they want us to
    open Russian bank accounts. How do we do this? Well, we don’t,
    apparently they have already opened accounts for us! How the hell they
    can open an account in my name without my details or signature is beyond
    me and sounds very dodgy!

    Before we left home we didn’t win the fight about the bank accounts but
    we did win the fight for them to pay us within ten days of us signing
    the contract. Well, that has now changed too. They are now telling us
    that they will pay us ten days AFTER we have gone home. I have a very
    strong feeling that we are never going to get paid. During the meeting I
    told them on no uncertain terms that what they are trying to do is
    total bullshit and if they had disclosed this information earlier, I
    would not have agreed to come here.

    The two hour commute home seemed to take even longer and the six of us
    finally sat down together at home to discuss our options. I can’t post
    what we discussed yet, but all I can say is I am not backing down.

    That was the coldest shower I have ever had in my life.

  • Drew2u

    So does Wisconsin; the legislators are circulating a bill to make a 7-day work week: http://www.stevenspointjournal.com/viewart/20140112/SPJ01/301120292/

  • zerosumgame0005

    Does Putin even realize how much he is making every stereotype of Russia come alive in the most hilariously depressing public way possible?

  • Indigo

    I like Malta. I was there a few years ago for a two week stay and found the accommodations comfortable, the food tasty, and the people super nice. St. Paul was shipwrecked there, apparently several times since there’s a church on every other beach commemorating where he came ashore. And for post-Christians, there’s several ancient temples built of enormous slabs of stone that date back as far as Stonehenge and before. Fascinating place, well worth a visit. What a nice place for a real Olympics the Republic of Malta would be.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    To amuse myself I have been watching the car crash compilations from Russia which are such a meme now on YouTube. I have concluded that pretty much ALL Russian roads and infrastructure are pretty much crumbling and in need of repair, based on what has to be a pretty broad, random sampling of locations in those videos, taken from car dashboard mounted cameras.

    I am also convinced that Russians have to be among the worst drivers in the world. What amazes me is the ever recurring sense that there will always be someone along in a few seconds who has absolutely no sense that anyone is on the road but them, no matter what the conditions, including red lights or snow and ice and 20 degrees C below freezing. And the resulting crashes, including cars going airborne, are pretty stunning.

    Also, after watching the video of the recent terrorist train station bombing, including a surveillance camera that caught the bomber walking up the steps, and the second before he lit himself up at the security stations just inside the door, your could not pay me to go to Russia. Not just for these Olympic Games, but for anything.

    Russia as a society is teetering on the edge of collapse into criminal lawlessness, pretty much run by the Russian Mafia, as far as I can tell from every available news source.

  • kingstonbears

    Yes sir, your room is $1,000 per night, and if you would like electricity that will be an extra $500. Oh, and clean sheets, if available, will be $100 for 5 nights. Hope you enjoy your stay.

  • Quilla

    Once upon a time when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan the US boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. For a slew of reasons, maybe we should do it again. Just sayin’

  • Melissa

    Wow, that is Third World :(

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    This Olympics may be a real train wreck.

  • kempsternyc

    Whoops!

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