Sen. Lindsey Graham Suggests US Boycott Winter Olympics in Russia Over Snowden Affair
Sen. Lindsey Graham Suggests US Boycott Winter Olympics in Russia Over Snowden Affair

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) believes that the U.S. should  consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia, over fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden: There are other ways to get back at Russia if they grant this traitor asylum.

President Obama should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia if that country gives asylum to Edward Snowden, Sen. Lindsey Graham told The Hill on Tuesday.

“I would. I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them,” Graham (R-S.C.) said when asked about the possibility of a boycott.

“It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous,” he said. “We certainly haven’t reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it’s a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States.”

Snowden, who has been charged with espionage for leaking details about two National Security Agency programs that collected information about U.S. telephone calls and international Internet usage, officially filed a request for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday. He pledged to abide by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands that he stop leaking information that could damage the United States.

Graham is the first senator to suggest a link between the Olympics and Snowden, who has been holed up in a Moscow airport for weeks.

Other lawmakers also suggested Obama should respond sternly if Russia offers Snowden asylum, although they were more hesitant to suggest boycotting the Olympics.

“There’s many things we can do, but I think the experience of canceling the Olympics the last time around wasn’t very good,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a close ally of Graham’s.

How many people actually watch the Winter Olympics anyway? Besides, it would not only affect the Russian economy and U.S.-Russia relations, but it would also have an adverse effect on the American athletes who have been training for the event. That’s clearly not the best move to make.

It’s also interesting to note that a U.S. lawmaker has criticized Graham’s statement too:

Russian politicians are hitting back at Sen. Lindsey Graham’s ridiculous call for boycotting the Sochi Winter Olympics:

The head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, said that Senator Graham’s statement was “pulling us back to the distant past, the time of mutual boycotts when our two states were looking at each other through nuclear sights”. “I am sure that these times are over and difficult periods in relations must not bring the nations to the worst times of the Cold War,” the parliamentarian added.

MP Vasily Shestakov (United Russia), who is a member of the Lower House Committee for Sports, said that he was sure that the US authorities would ignore Senator Graham’s words, adding that they have not even been supported by any of his colleagues. “I hope that certain politicians in the United States would stop making populist statements and start thinking more about their own citizens,” Shestakov noted.

The politician reminded of the partial boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and the retaliatory boycott of the 1984 games in Los Angeles and emphasized that these moves mostly hurt the athletes who were preparing for the games for their whole lives. “Can you imagine what the sportsmen feel when someone tries to get PR credit by making such statements?” Shestakov asked.

Russian Senator Ruslan Gattarov said that Graham’s call “only demonstrated that the United States cannot influence some country by means of their Army and Navy and so they start making political declarations that at once diminish themselves,” Gattarov stated. “The US has found itself in an uncomfortable position when it was eavesdropping on people in the whole world, undermining its reputation as a beacon of democracy and due to Graham’s declarations America for the second time undermined its reputation of a state that follows democratic principles and that is capable of a constructive dialogue,” the Russian senator added.