Russlands Potemkinsches Olympiadorf

MOSKAU – Erinnern Sie sich noch an 2007? Russland begann, wieder wie eine Weltmacht auszusehen. Die Wirtschaft verzeichnete ein jährliches Rekordwachstum von 8,5 Prozent. Das politische Leben hatte sich stabilisiert. Die Unterstützung für Präsident Wladimir Putin erreichte ungeahnte Höhen. Die jahrzehntelange tschetschenische Rebellion schien niedergeschlagen. Und als krönenden Abschluss vergab das Internationale Olympische Komitee die Austragung der Winterspiele 2014 an den russischen Schwarzmeer-Badeort Sotschi.

Die Wahl des Austragungsorts war in vielerlei Hinsicht seltsam: im sonnigen Sotschi gibt es zwar viele Berge, aber kaum oder gar keinen Schnee. Außerdem liegt es 1.370 Kilometer südlich von Moskau. Direktflüge von Europa finden kaum statt und die Anreise aus den Vereinigten Staaten kann sich auf bis zu vier Etappen ausdehnen.

Doch im Jahr 2007 begannen die Russen wieder optimistischer in die Zukunft zu blicken. Anlässlich seiner Rede vor dem Olympischen Komitee argumentierte Putin, dass man mit der Vergabe der Spiele an Russland dem Land nicht nur die Präsentation seiner post-sowjetischen Errungenschaften ermöglichen, sondern Russland auch auf seinem Weg des politischen und wirtschaftlichen Übergangs helfen würde. Nichts schien Putin zu anstrengend, nicht einmal die Formulierung unnötiger demokratischer Gemeinplätze vor einem Olympischen Komitee, dessen Mitglieder schon die Olympischen Sommerspiele 2008 an Peking vergeben hatten.

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