There have, over the last few days, been quite a lot of noises about Russia. Much of these noises center on the fact that Russia cannot accept their place as a second-level power. They are no longer a superpower, and that’s something they’ve had a tough time adjusting to. It’s made worse by Putin doing…well, the things Putin does.
There’s two major events going on with them lately that need to be discussed. First, the whole Snowden thing. I’ve already made my thoughts clear on the “man” and what he should be doing. That said, Putin should have not granted him asylum. I think it’s very clear that he’s only doing so as a way of yanking our chain. Also, if Snowden somehow thinks he’s going to be living in a country with free speech and a transparent government, he’s in for a rude surprise.
I feel that the President has handled this in the best way he can, by cancelling a summit with Putin. It sucks that it came to that, but frankly Russia was asking for it. They pushed us to get a reaction, they got one, and the action and reaction are both largely symbolic. So…yeah. Hopefully Russia will soon hand over Snowden and/or we’ll get an extradition treaty with them to put an end to this kind of crap.
Second, the gay thing. Russia has recently passed an insanely restrictive anti-gay law that stifles free speech and makes gay people throughout the country targets. This is a pity for several reasons, including the fact that, until fairly recently, Russia has been reasonably ok about the gays. But now, no.
In the wake of this new law, there have been many calls for the US, the UK and other countries to boycott the Olympics. That’s a bad, stupid idea. For one thing, from what I’ve heard, boycotting the games means you aren’t allowed to participate in the next two or three. It also unfairly punishes the athletes.
A better choice is this: athletes from countries sympathetic to the cause, or athletes themselves who are gay, or sympathetic, can either carry or wear little rainbow pride flags during the Parade of Nations. Russia is not stupid enough to arrest them en masse, and it’s a nice, quiet, not “in your face” way of making it clear that we in the civilized world don’t hold with what’s going on. It also expresses support for the gays in Russia in a nicely quiet, subtle way. Whether or not that will actually happen, who can say. But I really do hope it does.