Legendary figure skater Irina Rodnina just lit the Olympic flame alongside hockey goalie Vladislav Tretyak. People may know her for her many medals or her newfound political role (she is a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament and voted for the recent ban on American adoptions of Russian children) or for the fact that her daughter, Alyona Minkovski, was one of the young faces on Russia Today, but I'll always know her as the woman who, in September, tweeted the following doctored photo of Barack and Michelle Obama.
When people piled on and accused her of racism, she answered as follows: "Freedom of speech is freedom of speech! You're responsible for your own insecurities!"
Meanwhile, one of the main television personalities hosting during the Olympics on Russia's main state-owned channel is Andrey Malakhov, who is widely known to be gay. Russia never fails to upend expectations.
New Republic Senior Editor Julia Ioffe will be writing dispatches from Russia for the duration of the Olympics. For the entire collection of her pieces, click here.READ: Russians Think We're Engaging in Olympic Schadenfreude. They're Right.