Viewing Sochi from a new perspective

Editor’s Note: This column is a work of satire.

John Riti
John Riti

Boris Avdeyev is not reported to be confined to any prison.

Greetings from Sochi!

I hope this letter finds you well. Honestly, whatever you’re up to probably is better than where I am.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Boris Avdeyev. I’m part of the Olympic Opening Ceremony planning committee here in Sochi — perhaps you were one of the millions who watched it two weeks ago. Then I’m sure you’re one of the millions who saw the mechanical snowflakes that bloomed to make the Olympic logo, except for the fifth ring that didn’t open because of a technical malfunction.

Yep, that was me. That darn fifth ring.

You think Bob Costas and his eye infection is embarrassing? Try having only one job in the whole opening ceremony and messing it up.

First, despite the Internet rumors from the past few weeks, I wasn’t stabbed in my sleep or killed by the Russian police. I’m VERY much alive. But trust me, the backlash is all too real.

Putin’s sky cells aren’t too bad, but I seriously think this is where they filmed that Game of Thrones scene. Prison provides some great scenic views of the winter wonderland that is Sochi — take my word for it, fake snow is way prettier than real snow. Plus I have 12 stray dogs to keep me company.

Regardless, there’s a larger reason for me sending this letter. I’ve had a few weeks to reflect and I’ve recovered from the embarrassment of the whole situation. Now I want to speak out and plead my case.

I understand this mishap was funny, hilarious, what have you. The BuzzFeed lists and the memes were great water cooler talk, I’ll give you that. Putin taking a nap during the ceremony? Hilarious! But I have to ask, can’t people put their focus elsewhere?

God forbid people forget about this ring and instead talk about the $50 billion Putin has spent on Sochi, stalling our economy with corrupt price overruns. I get the Olympics are lavish, but as a Russian citizen, I have an inkling some of that money could be used elsewhere — how about paying our citizens?

As a worker on the Opening Ceremony planning committee, I’ve been lucky to escape some of the harsher conditions construction workers of state corporations have experienced. Many of the low-skilled workers had no contracts, no training or insurance and weren’t always paid. Millions of people know about my infamous ring malfunction, but how many know there were 25 deaths during construction here in Sochi during 2012?

Putin’s plans for glory play by their own rules. Following the non-discrimination policy of the Olympic charter? For everyone but the gay community. Staying true to their Zero Waste Olympic pledge to the International Olympic Committee? Not for the rail monopoly that dumped construction waste into landfills and the Sochi water supply.

And while the Internet posts about my failed ring were funny, be thankful you live in a country where you can post anything you want. I think that’s what you guys call freedom of speech? Not sure over here.

Maybe I’m just bitter here in my little cell, thinking back to that stupid ring and how this all could have been avoided. Either way, I hope you enjoy the rest of the Olympic games. I’ll try to send a postcard soon — Russia’s beautiful this time of year.