Aaron Schachter: Now we turn to Julia Barton who's in Moscow reporting for The World. Julia, first off, what's the Russian reaction to what's going on in Ukraine?
Julia Barton: The story has led the news on the state TV channels, mostly focused on the violence on the part of some of the protestors. It looks like horrific chaos and then usually these scenes are interspersed with very calm and reasonable interviews up in parliament with supporters of President Yanukovich. Looking at it from that point of an average TV viewer in Russia, I'd have to say that the Ukrainian protestors who have resorted to violence have just handed a huge propaganda win to the Russian media in the Russian state.
Schachter: Now, Julia, you're there to report on the run-up of the Olympics for us. You've been in Moscow for a week now. What do you see? Are the Olympics a big deal there? Are people talking about them? Is it non-stop on the TV? Things like that.
Barton: Yeah, it's pretty prominent on the television. I mean of course reports on ice-skating, I saw a reporter learning how to curl. So there's all kinds of Olympics winter-sport-related coverage and some events in Moscow, but oddly I mean once I got out of the airport, Sheremetyevo, which was completely plastered with posters and Sochi logos and Sochi merchandise, I haven't seen very much sign of it in Moscow. There's just not the sort of coverage and stuff in the metro and things being sold and merchandise, it really feels pretty far away once you get out of the airport.
Schachter: Now, of course, one of the big stories, perhaps the main story about the Olympics so far, is security. Are you noticing heightened security at the airport? In the city?
Barton: Yeah, at the airport it was pretty subtle. I mean there were people at every point. Beyond that I'd say that the metro, people tell me there's definitely more police presence and I do see, not like large groups of people, but there are officers riding the trains, there are officers as you go through the metro, you see them. People tell me that they do see more police now.
Schachter: You've only been there for a week, as we said, but I wonder if you've gotten a sense of how frightened people are or not frightened. I mean we just saw a video recently of two men who claimed to be behind the suicide bombings Volgograd last month that claimed thirty-four lives and these guys threatened to carry out more attacks.
Barton: It's really hard to tell. I mean Russians have grown stoic about this kind of thing. There is a little sense of tension, but at the same time that video that is being discussed quite a bit in the west, I couldn't see any sign of it on the nightly news today. Itâ€™s a sense of not wanting to alarm anybody and not wanting to freak out the populace on TV. Now, in the print media, especially the English language Russian media, RT, there have been discussions about this video, wondering what's its provenance is, mostly dismissing the idea that it has anything to do with the people who organized the attacks. This is sort of the MO in Russia now, that you just try not to talk through these things in a public way that might get people nervous.
Schachter: After past incidents in Russia, I know that authorities kinda have a heavy hand in crackdown on different ethnic groups who may or not may not behind terror attacks. Is that happening now? Is there any indication that that's going on?
Barton: That's always going on. I mean it's just sort of par for the course in Russia right now. I mean I'm working right now with a woman who is from Bashkortostan, so she has Asian features and she tells me she gets her documents checked on the metro about every other month and potentially asked for a bribe. But because there are more police in more places, there's just more opportunities for abuse.
Schachter: Julia Barton in Moscow. Thank you for speaking with us and we'll hear more from you about the Sochi Olympics.
Barton: That's right. Thank you.