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Russia’s 'sacred' Olympic Games no laughing matter





The 2014 winter Olympic Games are not to be scoffed at in Russia. After having shut down a satirical art exhibit titled “Welcome! Sochi 2014” earlier this month, Russian authorities fired a museum director who dared to showcase the same artwork just a few days later.

Marat Guelman was one of the organisers of the first exhibit, held in the city of Perm in the Ural Mountains as part of a cultural festival. However, the satirical paintings by artist Vasiliy Slonov were not to the taste of the region’s culture ministry, which forced the organisers to take the pieces down. A few days later, Guelman decided to exhibit them again, this time on the walls of the city’s modern art museum, which he directed. His bold move quickly got him fired.
Meanwhile, Slonov, whose paintings include caricatures of Olympic Game mascots, stands accused of having illegally used Olympic symbols in his work. Russian authorities have also opened an investigation to determine whether his artwork is “extremist”. In the wake of this incident, a senator said that Slonov’s work was “disrespectful and humiliating to the great power [that is Russia].”
Several other artistic events were cancelled in Perm during the “White Nights” festival, which ended on Monday. One exhibit was shut down after its organisers expressed support for Slonov. Another that was shuttered included photographs of anti-Putin protests. Workshops to teach youth how to make absurd, satirical signs – a phenomenon called “monstrating” in Russia – were cancelled

I love the Stalin mascot!

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^^ Disgusting, and they dare to say there is freedom of speech in Russia? (as much as some of that artwork is creepy)

That's what you get for letting an indoctrinated tyrant from the KGB becoming the president.

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Out of This World: Sochi Champions to Get Meteorite Medals

MOSCOW, July 24 (R-Sport) - Some gold medal winners at the Sochi Winter Olympics are set to be rewarded for their out-of-this-world performances with extra medals embedded with meteorite fragments, Russian officials said Wednesday.

The special medals are on offer to athletes who win their events on February 15, 2014, the one-year anniversary of a meteorite strike that injured 1,600 people, smashing windows and causing other damage in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

Chunks of that very space rock are to be chipped off and inserted into the medals, Chelyabinsk Region Culture Minister Alexei Betekhtin was quoted as saying in a statement.

"We will hand out our medals to all the athletes who will win gold on that day, because both the meteorite strike and the Olympic Games are the global events,” Betekhtin said.

Several scientific expeditions collected the meteorite shards, which were found to be formed from common chondrite.

Seven sets of medals are on offer on February 15: in the men's 1,500 meter speedskating, the women's 1,000m and men's 1,500 short track, the women's cross-country skiing relay, the men's K-125 ski jump, the women's super giant slalom, and men's skeleton events.

In total, a record 98 sets of medals will be up for grabs in 15 sports at the Games, which run February 7-23, 2014.

RIA Novosti

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Zimbabwe to send team to Winter Olympic Games

ZIMBABWE are likely to be represented at the Winter Olympic Games of Sochi 2014 — a first for the nation.

One athlete has already been short listed in the discipline of Men’s Alpine Skiing and the identification process is ongoing for elite potential candidates to the Winter Olympic Games which will be held in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014.

The Winter Olympic Sports programme consists of seven sporting disciplines, namely biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing.

Top of the list is a young male skier Luke Henri Steyn (20), a young Zimbabwean who is competing on the Federation of International Skiing (FIS) circuit where he has already achieved a good points ranking.

Heri Steyn is currently training in New Zealand and using ongoing events to gain qualification points for the Games. The FIS uses a complicated points system for qualification, which basically starts all athletes old enough to race on the FIS circuit (16 years old) on 999.99 points in five Alpine Skiing disciplines — Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super-Combined.

The best in the world is on 0 points; there can only be one athlete on 0 points at one time. Therefore the aim of every ski racer is to work their way down to 0 points. Every race gives an athlete the chance to lower points.

Henri Steyn has trained and raced from his family base in Europe since the age of 9.

In 2012 he joined the USCSA race team at the University Of Boulder in Colorado, United States, from where he has been able to continue his training and racing career.

He is now taking a year off university in an effort to achieve the required number of points to enable him to fulfil his dream and compete at the 2014 Olympics. Henri Steyn will augment his qualification chances by competing on the European circuit when it opens, nearer the end of the year.

He has already qualified for Giant Slalom and is working on four more results required in Slalom in order to qualify. The Winter Olympic Games qualification window is open until January 20, 2014.

Following the recognition of the Zimbabwe Snow Sports Association of Zimbabwe by the Sports Commission and its subsequent affiliation to the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, preparations and logistics are well underway to ensure the participation of any qualified athlete at this global multidisciplinary event.

ZOC President Admire Masenda indicated that the ZOC Board had been aware of this possible development as early as December 2012 and to this end had appointed seasoned administrator Mrs. Kathy Lobb as the Chef de Mission.


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IOC Statement on recent Russian legislation

The International Olympic Committee has today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the Games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation.
In his letter deputy Prime Minister Kozak underlines that ‘Russia has committed itself to comply strictly with the provisions of the Olympic Charter and its fundamental principles, according to item 6 of which "any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."
He adds that, ‘The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety.’
The IOC is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.
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Olympics: Putin bans protests in Sochi, restricts access

Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned protests in Sochi during the Winter Olympics next year and ordered severely restricted access to the city, according to a decree published Friday.

The presidential decree published in the official newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta imposes special zones on the territory of Sochi "in order to reinforce security" during the Games in the Black Sea resort in February.

It designates the Olympic venues, ports, train stations and special road checkpoints as "controlled zones" where all people and belongings will be searched.

The document also imposes a vast "forbidden zone" with restricted access, and bans all cars from Sochi unless the vehicles have special accreditation or are locally owned.

The decree also prohibits any public demonstrations "not related to the holding of the Olympic Games" in the area in the period from January 7 to March 21, 2014.

The move was immediately denounced by activists, who said it was unconstitutional and could be used to justify the dispersal by police of any protests.

The document also bans car crossing of the border to Georgia's rebel region of Abkhazia, which lies several kilometres from the Olympic Park.

The "forbidden zone" measures affect not only the Olympic venues, but a large part of the greater Sochi area.

The strict measures immediately caused an outcry, including from gay activists who plan to stage protests at the games against Russia's ban on "gay propaganda", a controversial law that has prompted calls to boycott the event altogether.

"The president's decree on a rally moratorium in Sochi during the Olympics is unconstitutional," gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev wrote on Twitter. "There still will be a gay pride parade."

"Did the president impose a state of emergency in Sochi?" tweeted human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov.

"Putin effectively turns Sochi into a special operation zone banning rallies and eliminating freedom of movement," wrote Tatiana Lokshina, a Russia-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.

"Putin's decree has turned Sochi-2014 into Moscow-1980," independent Dozhd television channel said.

It was referring to the unprecedented measures during the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, when entry to the capital was restricted while people deemed anti-social, including those with criminal records and dissidents, were forced to leave the city limits.

Russia is hosting the Winter Olympic Games from February 7 to February 23 2014 and the Paralympics from March 7 to March 16 2014. However the event has already been mired in controversy over property rights, environment, corruption, and most recently gay rights issues.

Sochi's location in close proximity to unstable Abkhazia and the turbulent North Caucasus regions with active Islamist insurgency, has also been criticised.

Last month, the Islamist warlord Doku Umarov called on militants to stage attacks against the Sochi Games, saying in a video that jihadists must "exert maximum efforts" to prevent the international event from happening.



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