Russia Heartbeat – Friday, February 14, 2014
Following an extravagant opening ceremony, with ticket sales reportedly exceededing one million … the Sochi Winter Olympics seem to be going smoothly, but controversy persists. Meanwhile Moscow is not seeing a hoped-for influx of tourist in connection with the Winter Olympics.
Russians seem to be uniting around the Sochi Winter Olympics, producing political benefits for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russians are proud of the Sochi games thus far, although a star skater is having to sit out, and the Sochi Olympics are a major test for Russian men’s ice hockey.
Russia bids farewell to U.S. Ambassador Mike McFaul.
RIA Novosti declares that Americans’ opinions of Russia and Putin are htting a 20-year low. According to PRI, McFaul said that, for their part, Russians have a ‘schizophrenic’ view of the United States.
Love & Saint Valentine’s Day
The coldest city in Russia featured an outdoor kissing marathon in frigid temperatures. And Russian facebook users are inserting the ‘love’ emoticon on Facebook more than any other.Yet according to a poll, many Russians are unwilling to see their first love again.
Perhaps sending mixed messages on Ukraine, Russia accuses the EU of seeking a Ukraine “sphere of influence,” Voice of Russia argues that the West is playing a geostrategic game in Ukraine, with the United States leading the way, and the Russian Foreign Ministry is taking “potshots” at the West for “meddling”… even as Russia is claiming that it wants to seek common ground with the West. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia itself wants to be a mediator in Ukraine
RAPSI reports that all detained Ukrainian protesters have been set free.
Business New Europe reports on a poll indicating that Russians are “appalled” by the Maidan activists. And Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is demanding an investigation into the killing of a Ukrainian judge.
The Kyiv Post has posted a “Guide To EuroMaidan“.
Meanwhile, one commentator argues that Ukraine symbolizes where the world is now.
Human Rights & Government
The New York Times looks at a Russian protest zone “where almost no one registers a complaint.”
Russians are pessimistic about whether their their financial standing will improve, even as some commentators look to human capital to be a key driver for of development.
Syria, Middle East