The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
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After Sochi Russia’s Political Magical Realism

The glitter of the Sochi spectacle hides the reality of an empire in decline. Is Putin’s profligacy hastening Russia’s nosedive?

Published on February 14, 2014
Visitors who have braved the threat of terrorism and shelled out big bucks for airfare, hotels, and event tickets at the Sochi Olympics are getting something for their money: lavish ceremonies, world-class athletic competition, architecturally striking sporting venues, and spectacular vistas from the slopes. President Putin undoubtedly views the grandeur of these Olympics, by far the most costly in history, as a testimony to the greatness of Russia and a sign of its return to the commanding center of the international system. The irony is that Sochi reflects not what is great about Russia but much of what is...