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Gaming the Games: Putin and Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

Released: 2/6/2014 4:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: University of South Carolina
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Gordon Smith directs the Rule of Law Collaborative and is a distinguished professor emeritus and expert on Russian law and government. Smith says as Vladimir Putin moves into his 14th year in power (either as president or prime minister) and as his leadership/persona is becoming increasingly lackluster in the eyes of large segments of the Russian public, Putin has resorted to bolstering his image by posing as a defender of "Russian traditional values." Smith says the recent Winter Olympics controversy over the "anti-homosexual law" is an extension of Putin’s pronounced appeal to Russian patriotism, Russian Orthodoxy and xenophobia. Now with the Sochi Olympics approaching as a major chance for Russia (and Putin) to display its/his prowess, Putin has embarked on a charm offensive: releasing Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Pussy Riot singers, the Green Peace activists and promising not to prosecute foreign gay athletes or visitors to the Olympics. But what will happen once the games are over? That's when the "games" will begin, says Smith who can discuss the current state of Russian politics and culture. Smith has written numerous books on Russian law and government, including his most recent “Russia and its Constitution: Promise and Political Reality.”

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