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Vladimir Putin can’t be happy about Russia being eliminated by Finland

Vladimir-Putin-Russian-hockey

Many considered Russia to be the favorite to take home the gold medal in men’s hockey with the Winter Olympics taking place in their home country, but Alexander Ovechkin and company were a shocking disappointment. Finland defeated Russia 3-1 in the elimination rounds and crushed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s dreams in the process.

While Russia only managed to score one goal with what was supposed to be a potent offense, head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is already taking the most heat for starting goalie Semyon Varlamov over Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky stopped all seven shots he faced after entering the game, including two spectacular saves late in the third period.

To make matters worse, Evgeni Malkin said after the game that he was the one who told Bilyaletdinov to pull Varlamov after he let in his third goal. Bobrovsky started for Russia against Norway and recorded a shutout to help his team advance to the quarterfinals. Varlamov had a shutout the game before against Slovakia, so both had been playing well.

Russia jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Tuesday before Varlamov let in a relatively soft goal:

As they often say in sports, hindsight is 20-20.

Photo via Twitter/Melanie Collins
GIF via @PeteBlackburn

Vladimir Putin hugs gay Olympic speedskater Ireen Wust (Video)

Vladimir-Putin-hugs-gay-athleteA lot was made about Russia’s anti-gay laws leading up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Fortunately, it does not seem like there have been any issues for athletes and visitors during the first week of the Games. In fact, Russian president Vladmir Putin even hugged an openly gay competitor earlier this week.

Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust was the first openly gay athlete to win a gold medal in Sochi. After she won the 3,000-meter race, she told Dutch national broadcaster NOS that she shared an intimate moment with Putin.

“I got a cuddle from him,” Wust said, according to ABC News. “He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speedskater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the 3,000 meters). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him.”

Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law prohibits information about homosexuality from being given to minors. Putin has maintained for months that homosexuals will not be discriminated against at the Olympics, though he did come under fire for the way he phrased his reassurance in one interview. Hopefully the sexual preference of athletes continues to be a non-issue.

Vladimir Putin to gay Olympic visitors: ‘Leave children alone please’

Vladimir-Putin-OlympicsThe Sochi Olympics are fast approaching, and many people are still worried about the safety of both competitors and spectators. In addition to the usual threats of terrorism, there has also been concern over how gay athletes and visitors might be treated. Last year, Russia put forth a law that banned “homosexual propaganda” and gay rights rallies.

On Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin assured the public that no group of people will be discriminated against based on their sexual preference or cultural beliefs — as long as they stay away from children.

“We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships,” Putin told Olympic volunteers, via The Guardian. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to underline this. Propaganda among children. These are absolutely different things – a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing.

“We are not forbidding anything and nobody is being grabbed off the street, and there is no punishment for such kinds of relations. You can feel relaxed and calm [in Russia], but leave children alone please.”

Putin added that Russia is a traditional country and claimed that some other countries have discussed the legalization of pedophilia, which is not something Russia will stand for. He did not specify which countries he was referring to.

“What, are we supposed to follow along like obedient lapdogs, towards whatever consequences await?” Putin added. “We have our own traditions, our own culture. We have respect for all of our international partners and ask that they also respect our own traditions and culture.”

Last month, British Olympic diver Tom Daley came out as gay and received full support from the Amateur Swimming Association. We certainly hope the world has moved beyond making a person’s sexual preference an issue during the Olympics.

RelatedUS women’s soccer player reveals she is gay

H/T Deadspin

Vladimir Putin: I do not remember Robert Kraft’s ring, but I’ll buy him another

Robert-Kraft-Vladimir-Putin

Last weekend, we shared with you one of the most bizarre stories involving an NFL owner and an international politician that you will ever hear. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin stole his Super Bowl ring in 2005, after it had been previously believed that Kraft gave it to him as a gift.

“I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,’” Kraft said at a gala on Friday. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

Not surprisingly, that is not the way Putin remembers it. On Friday, the Russian president said he had no recollection of taking the ring or even meeting Kraft, for that matter.

“You know, I do not remember either Mr. Kraft or the ring,” Putin said, according to the AFP. “They handed out some sorts of souvenirs.”

Ouch. But not to worry, Putin said he is willing to reimburse Kraft for the ring he claims was taken from him.

“But if it is such a valuable thing to Mr. Kraft and his team, I have a proposal,” he reportedly said with a smile. “We will ask our enterprises to craft a really good, noticeable thing — so it is clear that it is expensive, made of a good metal, with a rock — so that this jewel is passed on from generation to generation in the team whose interests Mr. Kraft represents. I think that this would be the most intelligent solution to such a difficult international problem.”

A ring passed through the Patriots organization that was hand-crafted by Vladimir Putin’s people? Sounds great to me. Take the deal, Kraft. Opportunities like this don’t come knocking very often.

Robert Kraft: Vladimir Putin stole my Super Bowl ring

Robert-KraftVladimir-Putin

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told an incredible story on Friday about how one of his Super Bowl rings wound up in the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Back in 2005, Kraft released a statement to the public informing them that he had given his $25,000 championship ring to Putin because he Putin was so “taken” by it.

“President Putin, a great and knowledgable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness,” Kraft said at the time. “I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and [his] leadership.”

But on Friday, Kraft told the NY Post that Putin straight up stole the ring.

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