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The results of an official survey about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi were not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Games.
"Other" wins an online poll asking respondents how much they are looking forward to next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi. RFE/RL's Glenn Kates has more.

In early January, RFE/RL reported on an official Sochi Olympics website poll that essentially asked, "will these games be 'great, or the greatest?'"

The question posed was: "Are you looking forward to the Olympic games?" "No" was not among the possible answers. In fact, the only possible response other than a wholehearted "yes" was "other."

We can now report that with 17,906 votes counted, the results are in.

"Other" wins -- earning an impressive 69 percent of the vote.

Below is a breakdown of the results of the poll:

"Are you looking forward to the Olympic Games?"

7.07 percent -- Yes, I've been waiting since the victory in Guatemala [where Sochi won the right to host the Games in 2007]! I can't believe there is so little time left!

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

9.37 percent -- I'm looking forward to them, because I enjoy sport and follow every Olympics

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

69.24 percent -- Other

Respondents were not provided with the opportunity to add commentary to their votes, so one can only guess as to what those voting "other" had in mind.

-- Glenn Kates
American actor Steven Seagal (left) chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi in August 2012.
A suicide bomber on the loose. Western governments warned of an imminent terrorist attack. Nearby U.S. warships on stand-by.

That was the grim security scenario laid out for next month's Sochi Winter Olympics by former Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on his Fox News talk show on January 26.

But martial-arts expert Steven Seagal knows better, apparently.

Speaking as Huckabee's guest on the conservative U.S. TV news station, the action-movie hero assessed the danger of an attack in Sochi as "extremely remote," citing his acquaintances in the Russian security forces.

Although he acknowledged that absolute security is impossible ("You could walk out to go buy a bag of sugar and get hit by a car" was how he put it), Seagal used the Fox News appearance to lavish praise on Russia's President Vladimir Putin and its Federal Security Service (FSB).

Seagal also urged U.S. President Barack Obama to pursue closer relations with Russia.

"They are a very powerful country with spectacular natural resources and a wonderful leadership," he said. "And, I believe that they are our friends and I think one of the only ways we are going to survive without getting swallowed by other superpowers or adversely affected is to be best friends with Russia. I think they should be our great allies."

On Sochi, Seagal reasoned that the colossal security presence in the region would prevail during the games.

"The chances of any of these suicide bombers actually being able to pull it off are extremely remote by virtue of the fact that Sochi is on such high alert," he said. "They've got amazing assets in place with great liaison over the world. President Putin is doing the very, very best he can. And, like I said, the FSB and [their elite counterterrorism taskforce] Alfa Spetsnaz are really some of the best on Earth, so it's going to be pretty tough for anybody to pull it off."

WATCH: Steven Seagal discusses Sochi security measures.

Huckabee introduced Seagal as "the unofficial ambassador who’s developed a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, something our president has not been able to do."

The comment appeared to be a jibe aimed at the cool relationship between Putin and Obama, who is one of several Western leaders skipping the Olympic opening ceremonies.

Seagal does indeed enjoy good relations with Russia. He has been photographed with Putin, and he was asked in March 2012 by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to lobby in the United States for opening up the U.S. market to Russian rifles.

The actor was also scheduled to lobby for Kalashnikov rifle sales at an arms exposition in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Seagal was less voluble, however, when asked about U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who has been given temporary asylum in Russia.

Without knowing the actual content of the material Snowden leaked, Seagal said, "it's not easy for me to comment [on the matter]."

-- Tom Balmforth

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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 transmission+rferl.org

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