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'In Praise Of Sochi Schadenfreude'

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"On the bright side, Sochi has been utter embarrassment for Vladimir Putin -- or, in other words, though it’s hardly started, it’s been the rare entertaining Olympic experience," David Harsanyi writes at the Federalist, along with collating the above two cringe-inducing tweets:

Vladimir Yakunin, a Russian plutocrat who, unlike some less vigilant magnates, knows where his black bread is buttered, groused about Western journalists who were “feeding hysteria about Russia.” Some people wondered if it was fair? Here’s Julia Ioffe at the New Republic:

There’s a fine line between fair criticism and schadenfreude, and the Western press has been largely well on the side of the latter. I’d also argue that there’s something chauvinistic, even Russophobic in it.

Russophobic? As in harboring negative prejudices, dislikes and fears about Russia and Russians? The place that gave us Dostoyevsky, Stravinsky, Solzhenitsyn and so on and on and on …? Hardly. Is it Russophobic to have a good laugh at the expense of a crooked government that squanders an estimated $50 billion on a publicity party when its per capita income is less than that of Equatorial Guinea or Gabon? A country that is 140th in on the economic freedom index, according to Heritage Foundation, slotted between Tajikistan and Burundi.

These Olympics might even end up doing the Russians a favor by bringing attention to their plight. Maybe Sochi will be seen as an event emblematic of the deeper problems in the country, As Garry Kasparov puts it:

Do not mistake the epic graft in Sochi as unusual or incidental. Corruption is the overriding principle of Putin’s 14 years in power and looting the Russian treasury and the Russian people is itself the goal. For all the foolish attempts to interpret Putin’s geopolitical strategy and personal ideology, the common denominator is always whether or not an action helps him maintain the cash flow that in turn enables him and his clique to stay in power.

Americans aren't Russophobic; on the contrary, we're simply embarrassed that, as the above photos highlight, 21st century Russia of all places can't even build a proper Potemkin Village anymore. See also, the cardboard and chicken-wire doors leading to the above men's room monstrosities:

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And speaking of Sochi schadenfreude and Putin's pathetic Potemkin Village, elsewhere at PJM, Ron Radosh explores the Baltic-sized gap between "Putin’s Olympic Fantasy vs. The Reality of Putin’s Russia."

Meanwhile, back in the US, NBC's well-documented love of selective editing continues: "NBC Edits Out IOC Anti-Discrimination Statement From Opening Ceremony," presumably to keep Comrade Putin happy -- or perhaps to get an early jump on the competition for the next Duranty Prize from PJM.

Update: "Clorox wins Twitter with its solution to Sochi’s double toilets:"