Putin used Olympics to get Ukrainian president to attack Kiev protesters

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have used the occasion of the 2014 Winter Olympics to convince Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to use lethal force against mostly-peaceful protesters in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

As a result, Kiev is now in flames, and many are talking about the prospect of a civil war.

Heckuva job, IOC.

kiev-protests

Here’s a snippet buried in the NYT’s report last night on the carnage in Ukraine:

Mr. Yanukovych had repeatedly pledged not to use force to disperse protesters, but after meeting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, he had clearly changed his mind.

Keep in mind that this all began when Ukraine’s president backed out of establishing closer ties with the EU, due to pressure from Moscow.  Everyday Ukrainians, who have no desire to re-join the Soviet Union, were ticked, and took to the streets in protest.

More from Joerg Forbrig of the German Marshall Fund:

by-default-2014-02-18-at-11.56.30-PMMany in Ukraine feel today that they have reached a final junction. They do not want to miss what may be the last opportunity in many years to come for a principal, some even say civilizational, choice between Europe and Russia, democracy and dictatorship, sovereignty and subordination, prosperity and poverty, modernity and mayhem. Indeed, the contrast between what Ukraine can expect from her Western and Eastern neighbors could not be starker.

On the other hand, as Forbrig points out, the EU trade agreement was a pretty sweet deal for Ukraine, including visa-free travel for Ukrainians visiting Europe, and opening the common market to Ukrainian businesses.  But, the EU wasn’t offering much in the way of economic support, while the Russians offered $15 billion.

Russian President Putin wanted the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Russia so that he could re-introduce Russia to the world as a 21st-century modern power.  And he failed miserably.

From rampant human rights abuses, to not even knowing how to build a toilet, Putin showed the world that Russia hadn’t modernized nearly enough since the Soviet days.  Its standard of living, respect for its citizenry and the rule of law all seemed awfully pathetic.  As does the lack of respect basic business ethics on the part of some of the country’s largest brands.  To a lot of us, Russia looked more like Albania and Nigeria than it did France or Italy.

And don’t think the Ukrainians haven’t noticed too.  According to several reports, including Forbrig at the Marshall Fund, we’re witnessing Putin’s effort to reconstruct a mini-me of the Soviet Union. Of course, it’s a rather pathetic mini-me, made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It’s a veritable Axis of Ennui.  Given the choice between visa-free travel to Paris or Belarus, no wonder Ukrainians are standing up and saying nyet.

Stephen Marche at Esquire wrote yesterday about Putin’s odd re-arrest of the punk activist band Pussy Riot. Marche’s thesis is that “Putin’s plan with the Sochi Olympics was to mock democratic values, to show that everyone in the West can be played for suckers, and to demonstrate our hypocrisy to the rest of the world, he has completely succeeded.”

Maybe, maybe not.

First a bit more from Marche:

by-default-2014-02-18-at-11.55.26-PMIf Putin simply wanted to rearrest Pussy Riot, he could have waited until fifteen minutes after the men’s hockey finals. But he chose to rearrest them in the middle of the Games. Putin’s “foreign policy” — such as it is — mainly acts as an embarrassment to Western values. This reasserts Russia’s sense of its own power, even though it is merely the power to disrupt, but it also offers a kind of backhanded justification for his own methods of ruling. Look at these democracies! What a joke they are! Do you think we are any worse than them? The mockery of others fits neatly into the sentimental and religious nationalism he indulges as well–at least mother Russia believes what it believes, unlike America or Europe.

Yeah, Putin is a tough guy.  And he mocks us and our democracy.  Okay.   But our TV sets never exploded, American journalists aren’t shot and killed for writing the wrong story, rock band aren’t thrown in jail for two years simply because they ticked off the president, and Americans don’t need to worry about a nationwide network of neo-Nazis kidnapping our kids with the federal government’s tacit consent.

Russia greatest export is its ability to bully its own people and the world.  And that’s certainly a good reason to fear the country, but it’s doesn’t breed a lot of respect.


(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+ | LinkedIn. 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, .

Share This Post

  • John ‘Genryu’

    ‘I am unaware.’ You should have just left it at that. Yes, you are unaware, ignorant and a total fool for falling for a very successful Russian propaganda campaign.

  • lazylightning

    I am unaware that the protestors were mostly peacful. The protests turned violent along time ago due to protestors and the protestors are the followers of ethnic purging Jew murdering Banderas of 1941 fame. The protestors in Kiev want a fascist regime and they are working for another fascist regime in the USA that exists regarless of who plays the role of president. This stuff is going to backfire on Soros, Bloomberg and Cheney and their whole gang.

  • Sweetie

    We are becoming a police state.

  • Sweetie

    I agree with your second paragraph. I don’t agree with the argument that the only way to be sincere is to be on the front lines. Journalists make change with words.

  • vonlmo

    John Aravosis posts a lot of stuff but make no mistake, he is merely a lapsed Republican & you will NEVER find him on any barricade.

    Putin is merely reinforcing the old Marxist claim that capitalism will sell itself out for profit. Corporate sponsors would be working the concession stands in the Roman Colisseum if that option were possible. Since there is no sport-snuff porn available, Putin offers Sochi. NBC & CocaCola et al are lining up w their Jonny Weir wind-up toys to sell it.

    Even the Patriot Infowars crowd are only in it to sell stuf f& solicit subscriptions & campaign contributions. There’ll never be mass-action.

  • Badgerite

    I’m usually a sucker for the Olympics. People doing amazing things, having fun and getting fame and attention for it. Exotic locales. Only Putin could manage to mess that up. I haven’t watched much. Because—-obvious. But stories of the locale seem to have a giant ‘thud’ quality to them.
    The big story is all the stray animals that need rescuing. That’s not even to mention the people that need rescuing. First the civil rights issues and now Kiev.
    THUD! When, if ever, is Russia gonna dump this guy and his authoritarian, anti democratic ways and get themselves some modern, far sighted, democratic leadership?

  • cole3244

    the 99% around the world are reacting to the 1% in their respective nations, the revolt will make our shores eventually especially if the gop & gop light parties continue their assault on the 99%.

  • FLL

    From the very beginning of their protests, Ukrainians haven’t been intimidated by the Putin-supported dictator, Yanukovich. John, please don’t be intimidated by the attacks that your post of the viral Ukrainian video on the previous thread received by Putin/Yanukovich supporters. If there is anything that will improve human rights in Russia, it will be to convince average Russians that Putin and his ideology of pogroms against minorities like gay people have no support in neighboring Ukraine. The worst thing for human rights in Russia would be to convince average Russians that Ukrainians support Putin and his contempt for human rights. Please keep on this story. Joerg Forbrig, whom you quoted, nailed it exactly:

    They do not want to miss what may be the last opportunity in many years
    to come for a principal, some even say civilizational, choice between
    Europe and Russia, democracy and dictatorship, sovereignty and
    subordination, prosperity and poverty, modernity and mayhem. Indeed, the
    contrast between what Ukraine can expect from her Western and Eastern
    neighbors could not be starker.

  • Buford2k11

    The Gop have a “draft Putin” plan for 2016…Putin can take off his shirt, while Hills, being a nice lady, won’t….There is no “daddy” figure in the gop/bagger realm yet…I just can’t accept Randy or Teddy as “daddy” figures…

  • MyrddinWilt

    Does Putin even have a plan?

    I think he is just the Russian version of George W. Bush. He is a little man with a Napoleon complex in charge of a country with a huge military. Unlike Bush the military and police are willing to go full police state with no resistance at all.

    Putin only understands brute force and that is what Ukraine is running away from.

  • Indigo

    Civil wars currently seething: Syria, Egypt, The Ukraine. . . stay tuned for Thailand and don’t ignore the US dissidents, they’re armed.

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