Japan Walks Fine Line Over Ukraine Issue


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, on Feb. 8. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Toko Sekiguchi  writes:  Standing with its western allies, Japan has criticized Russia over its decision to put troops in Ukraine, but at the same time has taken a softer line than others amid recently improved ties with Moscow.

Japan, whose diplomacy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has focused on ameliorating ties with President Vladimir Putin’s administration, did join in a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized nations that it was suspending preparations for the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June. The G-7 statement said that this would stay in place “until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.”

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[VIDEO] Pussy Riot Members Freed in Sochi

One of the Pussy Riot band members, wearing a ski mask told reporters that Sochi was a "political event"

One of the Pussy Riot band members, wearing a ski mask told reporters that Sochi was a “political event”

BBC News reports: Two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot who were arrested on Monday near the Winter Olympics resort of Sochi have been released.

“There is no space for political protest here…If you want to say something critical you will be detained.”

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were being held on suspicion of theft.

The pair were convicted of hooliganism over a protest song against President Putin in Moscow’s largest cathedral.

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Team USA Men’s Hockey Champions Doing Donuts in Putin’s Front Yard


Breitbart Sports reports:  The United States men’s hockey team beat the Russians in a thrilling, riveting, and classic contest in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Sochi Games 34 years after the US’s “Miracle on Ice” win at Lake Placcid.


The Americans won 3-2 on Saturday after the eighth round of the overtime shootout that saw Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stonewall the Russians while St. Louis’s T.J. Oshie, selected in part because of his skills in the shootout, took six of the eight shootout attempts in overtime, converting on four, including the game winner. Oshe took all five shots for the U.S. when the shootout when into extra rounds.

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Gold Medalist Tweets ‘Olympic’ Onion Rings


Celebrating a Century of Murder and Suffering: Soviet Communist Nostalgia at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics



(AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the Russian government to allow Chobani Greek yogurt to be delivered to Sochi for U.S. Olympic athletes and NBC Studios employees.

Chobani Forbidden Entry into Russia

Schumer said Tuesday that a shipment of Chobani yogurt is being held up at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey because of “unattainable” Russian Customs certifications.

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Toilets of Sochi

Tumblr has a page dedicated to Toilets of Sochi. We admire dedication.


Note: punditfromanotherplanet has a tumblr page, too. (the links lead back to here) Visit our Tumblr Chop Shop for a kaleidoscopic archive of cross-posts.

Welcome to Russia, Visitors to Sochi Olympics: You’ve Already Been Hacked


The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper writes:  Richard Engel reported last night on NBC that all visitors to the Sochi Olympics are getting hacked as soon as their electronic devices connect to any Russian network:

“As tourists and families of athletes arrive in Sochi, if they haven’t been warned, and if they fire up their phones at baggage claim, it’s probably too late to save the integrity of their electronics and everything inside them. Visitors to Russia can expect to be hacked. And as Richard Engel found out upon his arrival there, it’s not a matter of if, but when,” reports NBC’s Brian Williams.

Engel says, “The State Department warns that travelers should have no expectation of privacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Olympic Games Comedy Gold: ‘No Fishing Allowed in Olympic Toilets’

Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant arrived in Russia before the Olympic Games to find a list of rules posted in the bathrooms.  Among forbidden activities is… fishing.


Correction: Toilet fishing is not permitted for guests.



Sochi Olympics: Deathrap Elevators, Stray Dogs, Unexpected Visitors

Photo by Brian Costa

Photo by Brian Costa

WSJ reporter Brian Costa, stationed in Sochi, gets an unexpected late-night visitor…

…During my first night in Sochi, I got a visit from the one who doesn’t.

The only sound I heard was a key going into the lock and, at around 4 a.m. Wednesday, the door to my hotel room opening. Half asleep, I looked up and saw the light shining in from the hall. But by the time I sat up to see who was there, the door had been shut again. The one who doesn’t knock scurried away without uttering a word.

Do housekeepers work graveyard shifts here? Was it a construction worker, assuming something wasn’t quite finished in the room? Who else would both have a key and be using it at 4 a.m.?

In Sochi, those are questions better left unasked. Read the rest of this entry »

Shadowing the Sochi Games: Russia Hunts for ‘Black Widow’ Suicide Bomber


contributor-80x100-mchastainMary Chastain  writes:  Russian authorities are searching for 22-year-old Ruzanna Ibragimova, a “Black Widow,” who may already be in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. They believe she may have infiltrated the security President Vladimir Putin brags about on a regular basis.

She is the widow of a terrorist reportedly killed last year in a shoot-out with police, Ibragimova goes by the nickname Salima and has a 10-centimeter scar across her left cheek, Russian authorities said. She also walks with a pronounced limp and has a stiff left arm that doesn’t bend at the elbow, authorities said.

Ruzanna Ibragimova known as the 'Black Widow' in Russia. She might be involved in a plot to bomb the Sochi Olympic games. Handout by Russian security forces.

Ruzanna Ibragimova: the ‘Black Widow’ in Russia. She might be involved in a plot to bomb the Sochi Olympic games.

Black Widows reside in Chechnya, and their husbands died during previous terrorist attacks against Russian forces during the two Chechen wars. These women step up and take their husband’s or another close male relative’s place.Naida Asiyalova detonated a bomb on a bus in Volgograd in October, which killed six people and injured over 30 people. A suicide bomber blew up a train station in Volgograd in December, but there are mixed reports if the bomber was male or female.

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Olympic Torch Takes a Detour Into Outer Space


Russia's Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying an unlit Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Russia’s Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying an unlit Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

 reports:  The Olympic torch has been conveyed on snow-bikes, skidoos, camels and canoes, and just when it seemed that every mode of transport had been exhausted, Russia blasted the torch into space on a gaily painted Olympic-themed rocket, according to the Atlantic Wire.

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Russian Suicide Bus Bombing Sparks Terror Fears at Sochi Olympics

Members of Russia's emergency services work near a damaged bus after a bomb blast in Volgograd, October 21, 2013. - Russian Emergencies Ministry / Reuters

Members of Russia’s emergency services work near a damaged bus after a bomb blast in Volgograd, October 21, 2013. – Russian Emergencies Ministry / Reuters

Simon Shuster reports:  Naida Asiyalova, the suicide bomber who blew herself up on Monday on a crowded bus in the Russian city of Volgograd, killing six people and wounding dozens more, was born in the town of Buynaksk, a huddle of mosques and squat apartment blocks in the foothills of the Russian Caucasus. For at least a year, the town has been under a so-called KTO regime, the Russian acronym for counter-terrorism operation, which allows security forces to conduct random searches, impose curfews and detain any foreigners who do not carry a special visitor’s permit, as happened to me this spring. At the checkpoint leading into town, the troops who stopped me could not say exactly how long the counter-terrorism operation had been going on. “A long time,” one of them said with a sigh. “Probably a couple of years. You should have known about it.” And when would it be over? “Not soon. Not with the Olympics coming up.” Read the rest of this entry »