Last week foreign journalists descended on Sochi, and tweets and photos of unfinished construction quickly made headlines in the west and in Russia. Journalists complained about everything from rusty water to faulty door handles. A Twitter account called @SochiProblems was launched, mocking the alleged disaster of the Russian Winter Olympic games.
For example, one CNN reporter complained that only one of the rooms booked for his group was available, and posted a photo of himself in his hotel room with the curtain rod fallen down:
— Harry Reekie (@HarryCNN) February 4, 2014
Many Russians were less than pleased with the negative publicity. One blogger alleged [ru] that the reporter could have done the damage himself to create a story:
[…] гражданин, скорее всего, сам отломал держатель карниза, и теперь всем демонстрирует моральное убожество режима резидента Путина.
[…] this guy likely broke the rod himself, and is now demonstrating the moral squalor of the Putin regime to everyone.
Meanwhile, a Levada Center poll [en] released on Wednesday found that 53% of Russians approved of Russia holding the Olympic Games in Sochi. However, 38% of respondents also felt that corruption was the main reason for the Games. The RuNet seems to bear out both of these feelings. Many feel that the criticism is justified and necessary, while others (like noted writer Boris Akunin [ru]) think that people should concentrate on supporting the athletes, and ignore the problems.
DemVybor's Kirill Shulika wrote [ru] on his Facebook about the importance of speaking out and criticism. Otherwise, says he:
Проблема-то тут как раз в том, что все разговоры о заговорах и желании навредить в проведении Олимпиады опасны тем, что и дальше все будет то же самое. Я имею в виду гигантские затраты и при этом ржавую воду, отсутствие душа или наличие граждан России, которым в нарушении всего отказано в посещении соревнований, несмотря на купленные билеты.
The problem is precisely that all this talk of conspiracy and desire to do harm to the Olympics is dangerous because afterwards everything will remain the same. I am referring to the huge costs accompanied by rusty water, no showers, or Russian citizens, who in violation of everything have been denied access to events, despite having purchased tickets.
Blogger and Alexey Navalny's second in command, Leonid Volkov, also felt [ru] that negative reactions to criticism were out of line:
Ничего обидного нет ни в @SochiProblems, ничего страшного нет в том, что какие-то вещи не доделаны, и какие-то косяки случаются. Страшна и позорна, невероятно постыдна только неадекватная реакция на иронию – поиск “врагов” и “заговоров”, истории про “журналистов, которые специально отрывают дверные ручки.”
There is nothing offensive in @SochiProblems, nothing horrible in that some some things aren't finished, and there are some screw-ups. What is terrible and shameful is the incredibly shameful and inadequate response to the irony – the search for “enemies” and “conspiracies,” stories about “journalists who deliberately destroy doorknobs.”
Regardless, he will still watch the Games, said Volkov.