Elton John, the world’s most famous gay artist, lashed out today at Russia’s hateful anti-homosexual law via a 500-word statement in which he blistered the measure for legitimizing “vicious homophobia” and providing “extremists the cover to abuse people’s basis human rights.”
The law “explicitly links homosexuality with child sex abuse, which countless studies have shown to be conclusively wrong,” said the 66-year-old English singer who performed in Moscow in December.
Russian strongman Vladimir Putin used that appearance as proof that his people do not discriminate against gays. He said Russians sincerely love John “despite his orientation.” That is faint praise.
They may love the superstar, but John noted that Russian gays have been “receiving threats from vigilante groups who would ‘cure’ them of homosexuality by dousing them with urine or beating them up.”
His statement is the latest PR setback dealt to Putin in the run-up to the February 7 Sochi Olympics. Putin undoubtedly rues the day that he decided to go for Olympics gold.
Putin’s winter prize was supposed to be Russia’s coming out party. Instead, it has turned into an epic PR disaster, quite a comedown for a so-called superpower.
President Obama has offered security assistance to Putin to deal with the terror threat posed to the Games. A so-called “Black Widow” terrorist is reportedly roaming Sochi with more on the way.
While it’s unimaginable that Russian war ships would ever patrol near America to evacuate Russians from here, U.S. Navy vessels stationed in the Black Sea near Sochi are ready to rescue Americans in the event of a terror attack. No warplanes are planned, yet.
On the financial front, the extraordinary cost of the Games is bound to be a cost burden on the not exactly robust Russian economy. In 2007, Putin projected a $12B Sochi tab. He was off by more than $35B.
Russia has spent $50B so far, an amount equal to all of previous Winter Games combined. For comparison, the Salt Lake City Games of 2002 was $2.2B—thanks to penny-pinching Mitt Romney and his corporate buddies.
The 50-mile “Ring of Steel” isolating Sochi has a deployment of 40K security people. Many more will be dispatched for anti-terror duty once the Games are near.
Sochi may do to Russia what the 1976 Summer Games did to Montreal, which spent 30 years paying off that tab of $1.6B for its useless facilities.
As Sir Elton sang in his 1972 “Rocket Man” classic: “I Think It’s Going to be a Long Long Time” before Russia frees itself from the Sochi PR disaster.