9780415823722Robert W. Orttung’s & Sufian N. Zhemukhov’s book, Putin’s Olympics: The Sochi Games and the Evolution of Twenty-First Century Russia (Routledge, 2017), examines how the Sochi Olympics were designed to symbolize Russia’s return to great power status, but subsequent aggression against Ukraine, large-scale corruption, and the doping scandal have become the true legacies of the games. Placing the Sochi games into the larger context of Olympic history, authors reveal the consequences of Kremlin’s style of governance through mega-projects. The book is part of BASEES-Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies. Book cover by Nart Shekim.


NYTimesIn their book, Orttung and Zhemukhov argue that what we’re seeing is a return to the national purpose of the Soviet mega-projects, though without an explicit ideology — other than the continuation of Putin’s rule and the enrichment of a new oligarchy.— Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times Magazine.


Indeed, parts of the event were stunningly beautiful and astonishingly affective. Nevertheless, Putin’s Olympics rightly and repeatedly reminds us that in the process of creating the Sochi experience, Putin, like his autocratic and authoritarian predecessors, broke a lot of eggs in order to make this cake.— Catherine A. Schuler, The Russian Review.

untitledRobert Orttung and Sufian Zhemukhov’s book is an excellent and timely guide to the connections between Sochi and Crimea as the authors see the common origins of these events, saying that “the nature of the Putin regime led to both the Sochi games in the corrupt, authoritarian manner they occurred and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine.”— Richard Arnold, Nationalities Papers.

JOCAS titleIn a crowded field, Orttung and Zhemukhov have produced a well-structured and eminently readable book that is an essential reading for anyone seeking to understand what the legacy of Sochi Olympics really is.— Urban Jakša, Journal of Caucasian Studies.

jounal-of-sport-historyThe most provocative dimension of their argument concerns the invasion of Crimea, which occurred just after the Sochi Games ended on February 23. They assert that the concentration of military resources and personnel for the Sochi Olympics enabled the Crimean invasion.— Perry Sherouse, Journal of Sport History.

Eurasian_Geography_and_EconomicsThe Sochi Olympic story offers a privileged perspective to examine the contemporary urban, national, and international politics of Russia, which is the focus of Putin’s Olympics.—Gabriel SilvestreEurasian Geography and Economics.


Orttung and Zhemukhov conclude that the games mostly served to enrich Putin’s associates, increase regime stability, and provide a solid base from which to launch the Crimean and Ukrainian actions.Jenifer Parks, The Slavonic and East European Review. 

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Orttung  ja  Zhemukhov  ajoittavat  olympiaisännyyden historian 1990-luvulle, josta lähtien Vladimir Putin on tavalla tai toisella pyrkinyt edistämään  olympialaisten  saamista  Venäjälle.Pia Koivunen, Idäntutkimuksen.                                      

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Though the book focuses on the 2014 Olympic games, it still tackles timely topics.A. Heaphy, Kent State University

Book Launch: Elliott School of International Affairs  book presentation GWU1.png


Talk Show: Two Guys Discussing Russia Over Pastries

Russian politics is increasingly unpredictable. In order to help clarify the issues, Robert Orttung and Sufian Zhemukhov, on their talk show Two Guys Discussing Russia over Pastries, invite experts from different academic institutions. The scholars all arrive at opposite conclusions but have an interesting method for resolving their differences of opinion. Decide for yourself who is right! Video furnished by Nart Shekim and Elliott School of International Affairs.

Trump Putin ballEpisode 31. Trump and His Administration Seem to be Pursuing Two Different Russia Policies. Robert and Sufian discuss the aftermath of the 2018 Helsinki Summit, from the US and Russian perspective.

Elliott SchoolEpisode 30. Clinton versus Trump: Relationship with Putin. Robert and Sufian discuss the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

LussierEpisode 29. Constraining Elites in Russia and Indonesia: Political Participation and Regime Survival. Guest: Danielle Lussier, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College.

28Episode 28. Has Russian Security Policy Changed During Putin’s Tenure? Guest: Aglaya Snetkov, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

27Episode 27. How Effective is the Russian Propaganda? Guest: Elizabeth Nelson, George Washington University

26Episode 26. Russian Propaganda and TV Chanel ‘Russia Today.’ Guest: Linette Lopez, Business Insider and Columbia School of Journalism

25Episode 25. Propaganda in Soviet Era and in Contemporary Russia. Guest: Ann Cooper, Columbia School of Journalism

24Episode 24. Should USA Supply Offensive Weapons to Ukraine? Guest: Kimberly Marten, Columbia University

23Episode 23. Is Putin’s Popularity Real? Guest: Scott Gehlbach, University of Wisconsin-Madison

22Episode 22. Is Mikael Saakashvili an Effective Governor of Odessa? Guest: Volodymyr Dubovyk, Odessa Mechnikov National University

21Episode 21. Does Russian Opposition Have Political Future? Guest: Regina Smith, Indiana University

20Episode 20. Who Was Involved in the Euromaidan in Ukraine? Guest: Olga Onuch, University of Manchester

19Episode 19. The Kremlin Propaganda In Ukraine. Guest: Stephen Nix, International Republican Institute

18Episode 18. What Do Ukrainians Think? Guest: John O’Loughlin, University of Colorado

17Episode 17. Controversial Russian Movie, Leviathan, Nominated for Oscar. Guest: Peter Rollberg, George Washington University

16Episode 16. Is Putin a Neutral Mediator and Peacekeeper? Guest: Yulia Nikitina, MGIMO, Russia

15Episode 15. Which War Ukraine Wins First: For Territorial Integrity or Against Corruption? Guest: Oxana Shevel, Tufts University

14Episode 14. Will Better Ties between Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan Affect Armenian-Russian Relations? Guest: Sergey Minasyan, Caucasus Institute, Erevan, Armenia

13Episode 13. Will Putin Survive Until 2018 Presidential Elections? Guest: Nikolay Petrov, Higher School of Economics in Moscow

12Episode 12. Will Falling Oil Price Crush Russian Economy? Guest: Andrew Barnes, Kent State University

11Episode 11. Will Worsening Relations Between Russia and Belarus Tear Apart their Union State? Guest: Arkady Moshes, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

10Episode 10. Is Agreeableness of Population Key for Survival of Current Regime in Russia? Guest: Greame Robertson, UNC, Chapel Hill

09Episode 9. Will There be a Maidan in Moscow? Guest: Tomila Lankina, London School of Economics and Political Science

08Episode 8. Can TV in Russia Control Reality? Guest: Anrdei Makarychev, University of Tartu, Estonia

07Episode 7. Will China Stay Above the Fray Between the West and Russia? Guest: Pavel Baev, International Peace Research Institute Oslo

06Episode 6. Does Putin Control Siloviki or do They Control Him? Guest: Dmitri Gorenburg, CNA Corporation & Harvard University

05Episode 5. Would Cutting Russia off SWIFT Crush its Economy? Guest: Juliet Johnson, McGill University

04Episode 4. Will the New Ukrainian Parliament Fight Corruption Effectively? Guest: Volodymir Dubovik, Odessa Mechnikov National University

03Episode 3. Will the Kremlin Shut Down the Internet? Guest: Vladimir Gelman, European University at St. Petersburg & University of Helsinki

01Episode 2. What’s the Legacy of the Sochi Olympics? Robert Orttung & Sufian Zhemukhov, George Washington University

01Episode 1: Will Russia Invade Ukraine? Robert Orttung & Sufian Zhemukhov, George Washington University