There’s an insightful piece in today’s Guardian by political analyst and Olympics specialist Jules Boykoff, who presents a theory on what’s driving Russia’s ongoing heavy crackdown on dissenters (with police in Moscow and St Petersburg ringing in the New Year with a slew of Strategy 31 arrests). Vladimir Putin didn’t exactly have a light touch to begin with, says Boykoff, but the strict Olympic charter, and the ‘honour‘ at stake for Russia’s global image at the Games, only gives the President further imperatives for quashing his opponents:
In February 2014, Sochi, Russia, will host the Winter Olympics. The resort city nestled along the Black Sea is abuzz, working furiously to complete venues and infrastructure on time. But a different sort of construction is also under way. Since being awarded the Games, Russian officials have quietly fashioned a formidable political architecture to squelch dissent. Quelling the political opposition is the omnipresent goal, but the Olympics and the 2018 football World Cup are the vital backdrop.
Read the full piece here.