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Online Discussion: Sochi In The Spotlight

A police officer stands near a checkpoint at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi.
A police officer stands near a checkpoint at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi.
With the Winter Olympics beginning in Sochi in just over two weeks, questions continue to linger -- about the security situation, about the Russia's controversial "gay propaganda" law, and about alleged corruption that has made these games the most expensive in Olympic history.

In the first in our series of conversations about the Sochi Olympics, RFE/RL's Brian Whitmore led a discussion on January 23 with guests in Moscow and Prague about the dynamics that may distract the world from the actual competition. (Also here and on YouTube here.)


Irina Lagunina -- Director of RFE/RL's Russian Service, Radio Svoboda, where she previously served as a senior broadcaster and host of the daily analytical radio journal “Time & World.” Prior to joining RFE/RL in 1995, Lagunina worked as the foreign policy and diplomatic editor for the Russian magazine “New Times" and the “Moscow News.” She was in the media pool of the Russian Foreign Ministry, covering the end of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, wars in the former Yugoslavia, and ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet Union. She also contributed to the 1999 study “Kosovo News & Propaganda War” by The International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria.

Anastasia Kirilenko -- Correspondent with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, where she has worked since 2009 and is the author of several investigative reports, most recently about the Sochi Olympics. Kirilenko has an MA in journalism from Moscow State University and graduated from the Faculty of International Relations and Law at Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management in 2006. She has also contributed to the online platforms "Caucasian Knot" and "Courier International."

Ekaterina Sokirianskaya -- North Caucasus project director with International Crisis Group, supervising activities and advocacy efforts in the region. Before joining ICG, she held positions at the Memorial Human Rights Center from 2007-08 in Russia's republics of Chechnya, Daghestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria, and was a researcher and programs supervisor for the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. Sokirianskaya holds a doctoral degree from Central European University, has taught courses as assistant professor at Chechen State University, is a member of the Expert Council with the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, is a board member of International Memorial, and is the author of numerous publications, public lectures, and successful short documentaries.

Brian Whitmore, Moderator -- Europe desk editor for RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and author of "The Power Vertical" blog.

About This Blog

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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