Villanova University Political Science Professors, Mark Schrad, PhD and David Barrett, Phd, can offer an authoritative voice on a multitude of Eastern European and Russian-related topics including security issues in Russia and the counterintelligence/counter terrorism work the CIA is doing; Vladimir Putin and the symbolic victory of the Olympics for Russia; the cost of the Games and the level of corruption; and treatment of homosexuals in Russia.
Dr. Schrad is a Russian Studies expert and has spent extensive time in Sochi. He is also the author of the new book, Vodka Politics: Autocracy and Alcohol in Russia.
Dr. Schrad says:
Many see the Olympics as a symbolic victory for Russia--bolstering the legitimacy of its leader, Vladimir Putin, as a bona fide world leader who has led his country from the precipice of disaster to the cusp of newfound glory. Yet the games have also shone a light into the instruments of autocratic rule in Russia: documentaries highlight the careless expropriation of private lands, slipshod construction, and embezzlement of billions of dollars in producing the most expensive and most corrupt games in Olympic history. Meanwhile, a series of suicide bombings in Volgograd has ordinary Russians and the international community rightly concerned about security during the games, despite the dedication of some 37,000 security agents--more than twice the forces used in London in 2012. While the Olympic venues and facilities promise to be far more secure than any in recent memory, the multitude of "soft targets" around Sochi, the Black Sea coast, and the entire North Caucasus region remain prone to terrorist attacks.
Dr. Barrett is one of the country's leading experts on the Central Intelligence Agency and national security, and can speak to what U.S. intelligence agencies should be doing in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics.
Dr. Barrett says:
“More sensitive: surely NSA, with its technology, and CIA, with its people, are interested in evaluating what the Russians are and are not doing effectively to uncover terrorists plans and to foil them. The CIA presumably is carrying out a sharing of intelligence with the Russian government. But intel sharing is always a tricky and politicized matter.”