SOCHI, Russia — Fellow Americans, here’s what President Vladimir Putin’s main man wants you to know about Russia with the one-year countdown to the Sochi Winter Olympics just underway: Get over the stereotypes already.
Russia is cast as the enemy, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, said last week with a note of weary sarcasm. It’s an underdeveloped country with nasty people, where a military regime holds sway and the streets are empty because Putin’s bloody rule has put everyone in prison.
Out, out and out.
Peskov was chatting over coffee here in Sochi with a few reporters, and he fixed them with a true-believer gaze as he described the Russia that will be revealed — especially to Americans viewing the world through Cold War-frosted glasses — as the flags are raised for the Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 7, 2014.
Olympics fans will encounter an open country — open for investment, open for engagement, a country capable of making visitors feel welcome, he said. “A country where smiling people live. A country like other countries.”