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Commentary: The Sochi Olympics: Rings of steel and flames of terror
Published on February 6, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Rebecca Theodore

The Greeks famously exalted the Olympic Games with a reputation of honor and admiration and bequeathed upon it a pious character where the ‘springtime of humanity’ was celebrated in poetry, music and excellent sportsmanship. Now, it seems like the Oracle at Delphi is weeping bitter tears as the games are venerated in rings of steel and flames of terror in the coastal city of Sochi.

Rebecca Theodore is an op-ed columnist based in Washington, DC. She writes on national security and political issues. Follow her on twitter @rebethd or email at
And as the profane language of terrorism continues to flaw the games, Sochi is setting a new record. Tales of insurgents, black widows, fraud, US warships, corruption, environmental destruction and homophobia are brought to light. Even the blackened scourge of death is unfurled as the radical tension between politics and security continues to dominate the games.

Along with a heavy emphasis on Dagestan and Ingushetia, Chechen militants are diffusing insurgent violence throughout the north Caucasus in order to fight Russian forces. Nonetheless, it is here in the hot-bed of religious discord between Islamic peoples and Russian forces that the Sochi Olympics is played. It is here that Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov vows to avenge the 19th century Caucasus for the blood spilled from fellow Muslims around the world.

Given these circumstances, the sense of insecurity around the Sochi games are a cause for concern. Evidence indicate that the city of Volgograd which stands 400 miles northeast of Sochi has suffered three suicide bomb attacks in recent months, with bombings at a train station and trolley bus of which the Russian Islamist terrorist claimed responsibility.

Still, the command of the Vilayat Dagestan Mujahedeen confirms that “the Caucasian fighters are not waging any military activities against the United States and only fighting Russia for the occupation of the Caucasus.”

Elaborating further, New York’s university professor and Russian expert on global affairs Mark Galeotti suggest that “the staging of the Sochi games is a contest of wills between president Putin and the insurgents with innocents squarely in the crossfire,” making it evident that the Sochi Olympics is a battle between a politician yearning for political power and a murderous jihadist.

More significantly, when witnessed as a way to rejuvenate the entire Caucasus region, it has been said that “the Olympics is a new narrative for Russia to fill the void left by the massive rejection of the Communist world.” It was Putin that brought Russia back from the democracy of Gorbachev’s perestroika and the oligarchy of Yeltsin into a modern day power, fronting the US on Syria for a resolution of the chemical weapon controversy, challenging the European Union on Ukraine, granting asylum to Edward Snowden and showing hesitancy in supporting United Nations impositions on Iran.

Dr Gerald Flurry of the writes that “Putin is bent on restoring the glory of imperial Russia and has transformed the Russian media into a propaganda machine, curbed the power of democracy and emasculated the Russian parliament.”

As a result, Putin now sees his own ‘chariot approaching on a stream of rushing splendor’ in the Olympic Games. The games are a creation of his personality and built by his command. The games are his own crowning victory.

But the insurgents are eclipsing his achievements.

However, there is still much to be dealt with. The absence of prominent G8 world leaders in Sochi and the presence of US warships anchored in the Black sea as a contingency plan by the US state department further stains the righteous sword of good sporting excellence. In a festival of malice and greed that is reasoned as the most expensive in the history of all Olympics, the games are also undertones of environmental destruction and human rights abuses.

Yet, while the rest of the world seems arrested by Putin’s decree and the threat of insurgents, the stage is set for the Sochi Olympics. Putin’s self-managed democracy continues to illumine while the insurgents are seeking to sour the cup with a bitter revenge.

Maybe the wrath of Zeus will one day seek to avenge those responsible for the ruins, but for now the games must go on.
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