Thursday, December 19, 2013

Imma guess the Olympics has claimed another victory

By Carl

Now if we can only get Putin to change his mind about teh gheys:

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's parliament on Wednesday passed an amnesty bill that will likely apply to the 30-member crew of a Greenpeace ship detained after an Arctic protest, but it wasn't immediately clear if and when the activists would be allowed to leave the country.

The amnesty, which also would likely free the two jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band, has been largely viewed as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights records ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February. But opposition lawmakers argued it doesn't go nearly far enough and the complicated legislation appeared to leave many questions open.

The State Duma on Wednesday voted 446-0 in favor of the carefully tailored bill, which mostly applies to those who haven't committed violent crimes, first-time offenders, minors and women with small children. Lawmakers said they expect about 2,000 people to be released from jail.

I think it’s fair to speculate that Putin is trying to inoculate his administration ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, as those tend to be a focus on the host nation’s politics, and to deflect some of the ugliness over not only the atrocious human rights record with respect to the LGBT community, but his slap in the face at America by allowing Edward Snowden asylum.

Of course, with Putin, there’s always another level to go to before you get the complete story:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to provide Ukraine with more than $15 billion in aid is much more than a show of support for embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. It is a political masterstroke that undermines the Ukrainian opposition and gives Russia more control over its neighbor than ever before.

And of course, all this happened ahead of the US announcement of their Sochi delegation. I like Obama’s strategy here: if he went or he sent an administration official, it would signal to the world that we don’t take Russia’s oppression seriously. By sending an undeniably world-famous pair of athletes in Billy Jean King – openly gay—and gold medal figure skater Brian Boitano – well, there are rumours… -- along with Caitlin Cahow and Janet Napolitano, we send a diverse and important team of representatives and while it’s a distinct snub, it’s hard to argue that Obama or Biden should go.

It’s sad that politics and sport have to commingle in this fashion, but it’s hard to segregate sports from politics in any circumstance but particularly when it comes to American Exceptionalism.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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