What follows is a full English-language translation of an article by Vadim Yelistratov that appeared in Russian on the website TJ on February 7, 2015.
On February 7, the Sochi Winter Olympics celebrated its one-year anniversary. Exactly 12 months prior, one of the greatest sporting events in Russia’s history began. Many Russians experienced a surge of patriotism during the Games (Russia won the medal count, and the spectacle was well organized) and they hoped hosting the competition would improve the country’s reputation on the world stage.
Nevertheless, today in February 2015, Russia is in the midst of an economic crisis, and its relations with the US and European Union have reached rock bottom. Largely because of this, there has been a concerted effort across the airwaves to remind Russians about the anniversary of the country’s Olympic triumph.
TJournal draws attention to a wave of identical tweets, launched on February 7, “written” by bots about the Olympics’ anniversary.
Some of the replicated tweets focused simply on reminding readers about the Olympics’ anniversary. There were a few different versions of this message, which recycled various news headlines.
Критично. Мир, труд, спорт, Владимир Путин…ОЛИМПИАДА!!!
— EllenEverard (@EllenEverard1) February 7, 2015
Critical. Peace, labor, sports, Vladimir Putin … Olympics!
Олимпиада в Сочи. Год спустя
— BoolmanWarren (@BoolmanWarren) February 7, 2015
The Olympics in Sochi. One year later.
Россия: Ну, я пошла. Олимпиада! Всех победили! Урааа!
— Мария (@remendosans) February 7, 2015
Russia: well, I’m off. The Olympics! We beat everyone! Hooraaaay!
Ровно год назад в Сочи стартовала Олимпиада
— Nikodim Tihonov (@adnudaxe) February 7, 2015
Exactly one year ago in Sochi, the Olympics started.
Олимпиада в Сочи: год спустя. Россия сегодня вспоминает об Олимпийских играх …
— CristWhitney (@CristWhitney) February 7, 2015
The Olympics in Sochi: one year later. Russia remembers the Olympic Games today…
Other tweets tried to sell the Olympics as a personal event in the life of every Russian.
Олимпиада. Как это было для меня.
— ThorntonPoole (@ThorntonPoole1) February 7, 2015
The Olympics. How it was for me.
Сегодня же #годпослеигр Олимпиада навсегда в моем сердце
— Arina (@arina_novak) February 7, 2015
Today is the #YearAfterTheGames. The Olympics will always been in my heart.
A large number of the bot tweets stress that the Olympics were a “national triumph” for Russia that produced a “positive impact for the country’s image.”
Олимпиада в Сочи: год национального триумфа 33/13
— CorralJarvis (@CorralJarvis) February 7, 2015
The Sochi Olympics: the year of our national triumph 33/13 [The text “33/13” signifies the medals won by Russian athletes (total medal and gold medals).]
Я смотрела во все глаза) Олимпиада в Сочи великое событие, которое положительно сказалось на имидже страны.
— reyna manayan pacho (@anyereyn) February 7, 2015
I was all eyes as I watched. :) The Sochi Olympics were a monumental event that reflected positively on the country’s image.
Very actively and without any hyperlinks to the source material, bot accounts tweeted headlines from articles published at The Russian Times and RBC, drawing on survey results from the polling agencies Romir, Gallup International, and VTsIOM.
Опрос: Крым и Олимпиада сделали россиян счастливыми
— Алёна Козлова (@woodyxt) February 7, 2015
Poll: Crimea and the Olympics have made Russians happy.
49 процентов россиян уверены, что Олимпиада повысила престиж России
— Анна Семенова (@Semenovadextsap) February 7, 2015
49 percent of Russians are confident that the Olympics raised Russia’s prestige.
Quotes from Putin and other world-class athletes
Bot accounts most often recycled extremely positive statements by Vladimir Putin, triple Olympic champion figure skater Irina Rodnina, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, and Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov.
Виталий Мутко: Олимпиада в Сочи – длинная дистанция с хорошим финишем
— Ирина Евдокимова (@lambi_tania) February 7, 2015
Vitaly Mutko: the Sochi Olympics were a long road with a good finish
Путин: Олимпиада в Сочи вызвала всплеск положительных эмоций
— Alexey Gryzlov (@Alexeev001) February 7, 2015
Putin: the Sochi Olympics caused a surge of good feelings.
Роднина: Олимпиада в Сочи доказала, что РФ справляется с любой задачей
— Исаак Олин (@taprunch) February 7, 2015
Rodnina: the Sochi Olympics showed that Russia can manage any challenge.
Единая Россия: Фетисов: Олимпиада в Сочи была праздником для всей страны -
— Юля Люц (@Tratdi_Osood) February 7, 2015
United Russia: Fetisov: the Sochi Olympics were a holiday for the entire country.
Жуков: Олимпиада в Сочи дала сильный толчок развитию спорта в России
— Искренне Вашъ (@Nikolasha_A) February 7, 2015
Zhukov: the Sochi Olympics stimulated the development of sports in Russia.
The high price tag
Finally, one identically tweeted message awkwardly tried to diminish the enormous amount of money spent on the Olympics by recalculating its cost in depreciated rubles.
В пересчёте на нынешний курс доллара, сочинская олимпиада обошлась не так уж и дорого…
— DylanDerrick (@DylanDerrick3) February 7, 2015
When you recalculate its cost in today’s rubles, the Sochi Olympics weren't all that expensive…
The Russian mass media
Most Russian media outlets also reported on the Olympics's anniversary in purely positive terms, without mentioning anything about the country’s subsequent economic crisis. Of all the biggest newspapers, only Argumenty i Fakty published anything remotely critical.