SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

February 8, 2014

Russia kicks off Sochi Games with hope and hubris

SOCHI, Russia — A Russia in search of global vindication kicked off the Sochi Olympics looking more like a Russia that likes to party, with a pulse-raising opening ceremony about fun and sports instead of terrorism, coddling despots and gay rights.

And that’s just the way Vladimir Putin wants these Winter Games to be.

The world’s premier athletes on ice and snow have more to worry about than geopolitics as they plunge into the biggest challenges of their lives on the mountain slopes of the Caucasus and in the wet-paint-fresh arenas on the shores of the Black Sea.

But watch out for those Russians on their home turf. A raucous group of Russian athletes had a message for their nearly 3,000 rivals in Sochi, marching through Fisht Stadium singing that they’re “not gonna get us!”

Superlatives abounded and the mood soared as Tchaikovsky met pseudo-lesbian pop duo Tatu. Russian TV presenter Yana Churikova shouted: “Welcome to the center of the universe!”

Yet no amount of cheering could drown out the real world.

Fears of terrorism, which have dogged these games since Putin won them amid controversy seven years ago, were stoked during the ceremony itself. A passenger aboard a flight bound for Istanbul said there was a bomb on board and tried to divert the plane to Sochi. Authorities said the plane landed safely in Turkey.

The show opened with an embarrassing hiccup, as one of five snowflakes failed to unfurl as planned into the Olympic rings, forcing organizers to jettison a fireworks display and disrupting one of the most symbolic moments in an opening ceremony.

Also missing from the show: Putin’s repression of dissent, and inconsistent security measures at the Olympics, which will take place just a few hundred miles away from the sites of a long-running insurgency and routine militant violence.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Keenan to resign to take Salem State job

    SALEM — State Rep. John Keenan said Tuesday he will resign from office Aug. 24 to take a new job as vice president of administration at Salem State University.
    His announcement ended months of speculation about where the five-term Democrat would end up after leaving the Legislature. As it turns out, he is leaving four months before his term would have expired.

    July 29, 2014

  • Axe in Windshield Close call on I-95 in Topsfield when loose ax chops through windshield

    TOPSFIELD — Some motorists on Interstate 95 southbound had a scary moment Wednesday around 11 a.m. when a loose ax flew off a landscaper dump truck in front of them and cleaved partly through their car's windshield.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chism attorney challenging legislation

    DANVERS -- The attorney for the Danvers teen charged with raping and murdering his math teacher last October is arguing that the 1996 state law requiring that he be tried as an adult is unconstitutional. The argument by Philip Chism's attorney comes

    July 30, 2014

  • 140729_SN_DLE_PATROL4 Party problems persist in Point SALEM -- 'Tis the season for parties in the Point. Three years after a large Fourth of July gathering in the densely inhabited neighborhood led to a violent confrontation between partygoers and police, Chief Paul Tucker says his department continues

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • lottery.jpg 'Lucky' Salem store sells $15M lottery ticket

    SALEM -- An anonymous person used a trust to claim a $15 million grand prize Tuesday from a $30 scratch ticket bought at a local corner store. It is the largest instant "scratch and win" prize ever in the state's history. Nicole's Food Store at 406

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo