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Monday, September 01, 2014

Western Magazine Covers Reflect Hardened View of Putin's Russia

Published 6 February 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin had hoped to use the 2014 Sochi Olympics to showcase a Russia that had recovered from the post-Soviet tumult of the 1990s. But his Olympics project has been beset from the outset with questions of corruption, fears over security, and anger over a law banning gay "propaganda" that passed last year. As the Olympics begin, cover art for major western magazines has focused on these issues in lieu of sport.


"The Economist" focuses on a country "in deepening trouble" even as Putin seeks to make it shine during the Olympics. 


This work, by Barry Blitt is titled, "Jury of His Peers." Several western nations have opted against sending high-level delegations to Sochi. The U.S. delegation includes three openly gay athletes -- an apparent statement against Russia's antigay legislation


The "Newsweek" cover turns the issue of gay rights on its head, with a story uncovering rampant stereotyping and homophobia in the figure skating world. Indeed, the two previous covers above seem to tacitly poke at Russia's antigay laws by dressing Putin as a figure skater.


Simon Schuster's cover story focuses on Russia's effort to build a "ring of steel" to prevent potential terrorist attacks.


Julia Ioffe says Putin's country is falling apart despite the failure of opposition protests two years ago.


For Joshua Yaffa's cover story about corruption in preparation for the winter games, "Bloomberg Businessweek" uses a bear -- often seen as a symbol for Russia. The magazine explained that other cover ideas fell flat


The cover reads, "The dictatorship of the body." Putin has been photographed shirtless throughout his career and has carefully crafted his ultramasculine image.


"Reflex," a Czech weekly magazine, portrays Putin as an effeminate ice king for its cover story on "Glory and Fear in the Russian Empire."