Saturday, January 25, 2014

As expected, last week's TV interviews with President Putin were another propaganda opportunity for Russia and the Sochi winter games. True, quite a lot of time was devoted to questions about gay rights, but Putin's responses weren't challenged. Andrew Marr's repeated talk of the rarity of such interviews came across as deference to Mr Putin, made that much worse by the one-way obsequious pleasantries in their face to face meeting -

Marr: Mr President, very nice to speak to you again. Thank you for that very long discussion.

There followed more of Marr toadying up to Putin and finishing the interview with .... "Thank you very much Mr President (Marr bows and shakes hands with Putin) Thank you. Thank you so much."

Marr bows to President Putin before taking his leave

So a coup for Andrew Marr, then. And Putin would have been pleased, too.

Things haven't been going quite so well for the Sochi winter games sponsors. On 21st January McDonalds tweeted "We’re kicking off a way to send your well wishes to any Olympian today. Are you ready to send your #CheersToSochi?" They included a link to their webpage for sending messages to competing athletes and teams.

But many people around the world are now aware of the human rights abuses in Russia. The #cheerstosochi tag was quickly adopted as a Twitter rallying point to criticise the Sochi Olympic games sponsors. Companies like McDonalds and Coca Cola are now worried that their sponsorship money and investments in Russia will backfire, doing more harm than good.

Recently Newsround has been reporting about the Sochi games on an almost daily basis. However the programme has still not even mentioned the prejudice and discrimination faced by people in Russia, nor the outrage these abuses have caused in the West.

In the UK, LGBT History Month is just a week away.

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