Even though Russia will be hosting the next Winter Olympics in 2014, Vladimir Putin will snub this summer's games in Great Britain, reports the Guardian. Apparently Russia's recently re-elected president is unhappy with Britain for a range of reasons—being accused of human rights abuses, British MPs blocking travel visas for Russian officials implicated the death of an anti-corruption lawyer, the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006—and is taking out his displeasure by dissing the Olympics. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev will attend instead.
"I think Putin doesn't want to come to Britain and face difficult questions," said one MP. "This is further evidence of the turning inwards of Putin towards a more nationalistic authoritarianism and a rejection of western values." Putin will not be the only head of state not coming: others include Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, and Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko. But with 120 heads of state expected to attend the London Olympics opening—compared to 87 who went to the Beijing Olympics in 2008—many are saying it will be the largest-ever gathering of national leaders. (Read more 2012 London Olympics stories.)