Staunton, May 19 – The ignominious defeat of the Russian ice hockey team this week at the hands of much stronger commands from other countries is not only humiliating for a country that views itself as the home of that sport but also deprives the Kremlin of the kind of sport victory it likes to employ to distract attention from its larger failures.
That point has been made by numerous commentators including SerpomPo on the Telegram channel who argues that “’patriotism,’ understood as faithfulness to the authorities who were Soviet and then the corrupt Russian bosses” has always been rested “on three elephants – space, sport and the army” (echo.msk.ru/blog/serpompo2018/2204580-echo/).
They have served, the blogger writes, as “compensation to you citizens for your low standard of living. In all these sectors, the USSR and Russia are supposedly in leading positions. True, we live badly, but on the other hand we are winning in space, war, and sports. In those places we are the best!”
However, there are problems. Russia hasn’t had primacy in space for a long time, he writes. And it doesn’t have a military which can compete with the best the West has to offer as shown by recent events in Syria. And unfortunately, thanks to Putin and his doping program -- which showed Russia couldn’t compete honestly -- it has lost primacy as well.
“The defeat of Russian hockey – the main kind of sport for the USSR-Russia in its confrontation with the West – yet again shows that the Russian authorities have ever fewer opportunities to cover their failures with false achievements,” SerpomPo continues. And worse everyone in Russia and the West can see this.
Political analyst Aleksey Roshchin makes similar points in a new commentary (rosbalt.ru/posts/2018/05/18/1704166.html) as does Sofya Mokhova who says scandals surrounding the upcoming World Cup where the Russian team is also expected to lose early will only make this situation worse for the Kremlin (rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/05/18/1704186.html).