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'Will Sochi Games Be Great, Or The Greatest?'

Performers wave Russian flags near the Sochi 2014 countdown clock just outside the Kremlin in Moscow in February 2013, a year ahead of the Games.
Why are the Sochi Winter Olympics organizers and American comedian Stephen Colbert the greatest pollsters?

Because they both know how to ask leading questions.

During George W. Bush's presidency, Colbert was fond of asking guests, including Democratic congressmen, whether Bush was "a great president or the greatest president."

WATCH: Stephen Colbert quizzes his guests on Bush.

An online poll on the official Sochi Olympics website appears to leave just as little wiggle room for respondents (H/T to Kirit Radia).

"Are you looking forward to the Olympic games?" it asks.

The options:

"Yes, I've been waiting since the victory in Guatemala! I can't believe there is so little time left!" (The International Olympic Committee chose Sochi as the site of the 2014 games in 2007 in Guatemala City.)

"I'm really looking forward to them! The Games are a great event, not only for our country, but for the whole world!"

"I'm looking forward to them, because I enjoy sport and follow every Olympics."

"I'm looking forward to them, because I hope for great results from our athletes!"


Despite the optimism of the Olympics pollster, the Sochi games have had their share of controversy: Preparations for the two-week sporting event are said to have cost some $51 billion -- 10 times as much as any previous Winter Games; rights groups have complained of environmental and human rights abuses; terrorism fears prompted by two recent attacks in the southern Russian city of Volgograd have prompted an unprecedented security clampdown; and an antigay law passed in Russia last year has caused some activists to call for an Olympic boycott.

But perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has taken to the optimism of the organizers. He recently walked back a decree banning "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and pickets" before or during the Olympic Games, promising to set up special "protest zones" in Sochi.

-- Glenn Kates

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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