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Only in Russia - why Sochi's twin cubicle took Twitter by storm

0 23 January 2014

A picture snapped by BBC Russia correspondent Steve Rosenberg of a “twin toilet” in Sochi created a Twitter storm yesterday.

It was retweeted over a thousand times, featured in newspapers and picked up on by Russian opposition figures, who described it as a “waste of money” and a “global embarrassment.”

To Rosenberg, who always does his best to confirm the stereotypes about Russia commonly held in the West, it must have seemed like the perfect story - bringing together randomness (Russia’s is perceived as a logic-free zone by many foreigners), government incompetence (and it goes without saying that it’s Putin’s fault) and finally, and possibly most importantly, an unspoken but unmistakable connection with the LGBT issues that now dominate many media organisations’ coverage of Russia. No doubt he could hardly believe his luck as he tweeted his pic and watched the storm unfold. 

Now, I don’t blame Mr Rosenberg for posting the photo - it’s his job! But I’m pretty sure that he won’t be tweeting the perfectly sensible explanation for the twin cubicles provided by Elena Greenberg, who works at the now infamous Biathlon media centre, on her Facebook page

Apparently the organisers decided that there were enough toilets in the centre and asked for one to be turned into a store room. The cubicle wall and doors were taken out (you can see the line on the wall between the toilets if you look closely) but before the toilets themselves had been removed Mr Rosenberg decided to go to the loo. This is what he saw, and shared with the rest of the world. Next to it is a picture of the same loo with the toilets removed.

So now you know. Russia isn’t (quite) so random after all. But for most of the tens of thousands who’ve seen the picture, it's another one to add to the already impressive collection of wacky Russia pics. If you must, you can see some of the best ones here, and if you do take a look, try and see beyond the randomness to the remarkable Russian ingenuity which drove them to do this stuff! 

Note - the "cubicle before the photo" isn't actually the same cubicle - as nobody was aware of the toilet's future fame there isn't one. This one is from the floor above and the tiles are a different colour, but you get the idea. 

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