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How the Putin Stole Christmas

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As Christmas approaches, everyone is getting into the season by putting up lights, decorating trees, and shopping for gifts. But wait! Christmas is cancelled. This childhood nightmare is a reality for the 95,000 working on the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

According to the National Post, Vladimir Putin, Russian President, said “We have the new year and Christmas holidays ahead of us. I’d like to say, I think it should be clear that for you, [celebrating] will come on Mar.18. For you and for everyone who is working on the Olympic venues.”

With the Winter Olympics starting on Feb. 7 and the Winter Paralympics ending on Mar. 16, the Russian workers will have a long wait for their holiday season thanks to Putin. Those familiar with Dr. Seuss may deem Putin the modern-day Grinch.

Even if they don’t call him the Grinch, they’ll definitely call him something after being denied Russia’s biggest holiday. According to Reuter’s, “Russia comes to a virtual standstill between December 31 and January 8, with the main family celebrations on New Year’s Eve, a tradition that dates to the Soviet Communist era. Many Russians now also celebrate Orthodox Christmas on January 7.”
But what has caused Putin’s decision to delay the Russians most desired holiday? Let’s just say his entire political career is being judged based on the Olympics. The Games are expected “to cost $50 billion” by the beginning ceremony, which pushed out Athens, Greece previous record of $15 billion in 2004.

Despite Putin’s obvious efforts, there have been plenty of obstacles in his path. The site of the games has many unpaved roads and is littered with unfinished buildings with only 100 days left until the beginning ceremony. During Russia’s attempt at the longest torch relay, one torchbearer caught on fire. There have been threats to boycott the Russian’s Olympics because of their “Discriminatory and breach of Olympic values” in the new law to ban “gay propaganda” and recently signed anti-gay bill. Also, a few hundred miles from the games is a region “where rebels are fighting to install an Islamic state,” which has produced suicide bombers in the country.

Putin has tried many times to assure that safety is his top priority for the games, but who cares? According to Justin Romero, SMSU’s new Track & Field throwing coach, the athletes wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything. As a runner-up 2012 Olympic trial participant, he said, “This is a dream for them. Some may never be able to go [to the Olympics] again.”

Though this dream may become a reality for those athletes, do the Russians dreams have to be crushed in the process? The holiday season is a time to joyfully reunite with family in celebration, not to slave away for Putin’s own political gain. Russians may consider taking a Cindy Lou Who approach and hope that Putin’s heart will grow as the Grinch’s did.

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