"Corruption, terrorism, human rights protests, high-level no-shows—all these represent ways in which the Sochi Olympics have embarrassed Putin. Yet in each case, the problem goes well beyond any connection to the Games. Each reflects a major tension in the system that Putin has created. And even if all goes well at Sochi, they suggest continuing challenges for the Western effort to create a cooperative relationship with Russia," writes Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
"The theme of these Games is simple: this is Putin's pop-culture reassertion of Russia, a worldwide media-saturated insistence on its modern power and capacities, all done with a flash and a reach that no diplomatic summit could ever match. Dissident Russian voices such as Alexei Navalny, Masha Gessen, and the members of Pussy Riot all call these 'Putin's Games'; they talk of a pharaoh intent on building, and displaying, his pyramids. In fact, minus the tone of derision, when you talk to Russian officials close to Putin, the explanation for his motives is not so different," writes David Remnick in the New Yorker.
"Following the disclosures by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the global debate over electronic surveillance focused largely on the NSA… But a new player has appeared on the global stage: Russia's Federal Security System and SORM, Russia's system for intercepting telephone and electronic communications. Russia's total electronic surveillance system for the Olympics has put this country's intelligence agencies in the spotlight," writes Andrei Soldatov in the Moscow Times.
Thousands of Muslims fled their homes in Bangui, the capital of the majority-Christian Central African Republic, in a convoy of five hundred vehicles as crowds of Christians cheered the exodus. They headed toward Chad, a predominately Muslim country (AP).