David Remnick
Russia Expert to Offer Political Commentary During Olympics

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com December 10 2013 8:56 PM ET

When NBC broadcasts the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, in February, it will feature political commentary from Russia expert David Remnick, a journalist and historian who’ll most likely discuss the nation’s “gay propaganda” law, among other issues.

NBC announced Monday that it had hired Remnick, a New Yorker editor and former Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post, Deadline reports. Remnick is also a Pulitzer Prize winner for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire.

“We are facing an Olympics that have a number of issues around them — substantial, meaty, news issues,” Jim Bell, NBC’s executive producer for the Olympics, told Sports Illustrated. “For us to be able to have an opportunity to address them with someone like David made perfect sense. We would be remiss not to rely on some of the best and brightest minds to help present this to our viewers the right way.”

Remnick said of NBC, “I think they want to have someone who has a familiarity with Russian politics and culture, various controversies, Vladimir Putin, and all these questions I have stepped in for a very long time.”

Remnick will begin his commentary with the opening ceremonies, NBC officials said. Some other NBC personnel, such as longtime sportscaster Bob Costas and gay skater Johnny Weir, have said they don’t plan to address the situation of LGBT Russians in their Olympics coverage. But Remnick is likely to touch on that subject, including the law adopted by Russia last summer forbidding “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” — essentially, any discussion or demonstration that puts LGBT people in a positive light — in any venue accessible to minors. Since the law’s enactment, there have been numerous incidents of violence against LGBT people in Russia.