Monthly Archives: September 2013

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 19 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 19 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 31st special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowledge or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
Heavy Rains, High Winds Shut Down Sochi … A strong storm September 23-24 flooded streets, major highways, railroads, the airport, and residences in Sochi and neighboring areas, felled hundreds of trees, knocked out power stations, water and sewer networks and power lines, closed schools, hosptals and other public institutions, disordered travel, forced a declaration of emergency and the evacuation of  residents, and sparked panic, even though Russian exeperts noted that the storm was not more extreme than many the region has suffered in the past. For pictures of just how devastated the city was, see sochinskie-novosti.com/%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B8-%D1%84%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%85%D1%80%D0%BE%D0
svpressa.ru/accidents/article/74761/,  sochi-24.ru/proishestviya/veter-snes-kryshi-sochinskogo-roddoma-i-zhilyh-zdanij.2013926.68476.htmlsochi-24.ru/proishestviya/shtormovoj-veter-povalil-sotni-derevev-v-sochi.2013926.68471.html , specletter.com/obcshestvo/2013-09-24/olimpiiskuju-stolitsu-zalivajut-dozhd-i-reki.html,newizv.ru/lenta/2013-09-24/189550-iz-za-ugrozy-navodnenija-v-sochi-srabotali-sireny-idet-evakuacija.html,  newizv.ru/society/2013-09-25/189571-sochincev-evakuirujut-iz-za-navodnenija.htmlecho.msk.ru/blog/gagman/1163846-echo/,polit.ru/article/2013/09/25/sochiwater/,  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230616/,  .kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230583/,  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230560/,  sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/vse-shkoly-sochi-zakrylis-iz-za-dozhdya.2013925.68433.html,  tjournal.ru/paper/sochi-floodblogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskie-dorogi-utonuliblogsochi.ru/content/sochi-gotov-k-olimpiade,  blogsochi.ru/content/potop-v-loo-24092013sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/zhiteli-centra-sochi-mogut-byt-evakuirovany.2013924.68406.htmlsochi-24.ru/proishestviya/v-adlere-potop-olimpijskie-dorogi-utonuli.2013924.68401.html, and sochi-24.ru/proishestviya/lazarevskij-rajon-zatopilo-evakuirovany-lyudi.2013924.68390.html.   For the sense that the flooding as “an apocalypse” as far a local people were concerned even though experts said that “any reain is Sochi is an emergency situation,” see ng.ru/regions/2013-09-25/6_sochi.html and newizv.ru/lenta/2013-09-25/189617-v-sochi-sohranjaetsja-ugroza-podtoplenija-rezhim-chs-ne-otmenjalsja.html.
…Sochi Residents, Experts Blame Olympic Construction for Flooding … Sochi residents and construction experts say that the basic cause of the extensive flooding is the way in which Olympic construction has been carried out.  Many natural drainage paths have been blocked, and the city’s 1935 storm sewers have not been modernized, despite official promises to do so.  As a result, the rains, heavy but no heavier than many storms in the region, led to flooding and the destruction of massive amounts of property and infrastructure, including some in direct support of Olympic venues (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230584/). Aleksandr Valov, the editor of Blogsochi.ru, told the Moscow Times that “the Olympic infrastructure is not ready to handle these weather conditions,” he said. “This kind of rain is typical for Sochi and happens almost every fall, but this year it was different because of all the new infrastructure, which did not have sufficient drainage for the flood. It is a total [expletive] mess down there. Yes, they will host the games, but it will all be bass ackwards” (themoscowtimes.com/olympic_coverage/article/floods-in-sochi-cast-doubt-on-olympic-infrastructure-video/486604.html). Michael Krendlin, an ecologist with Greenpeace Russia, said that construction had changed water flows and may have changed the ecosystem in negative ways.  According to engineers, it is clear that even the 50 billion US dollars that the authorities say they have spent on the Olympiad was insufficient to deal with the city’s infrastructure (blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskie-dorogi-utonuli) and that the Olympic planners simply ignored the topography of the area and the need to allow for channels to carry off water in the event of storms (echo.msk.ru/blog/gagman/1163846-echo/).
…Officials Say Clean Up Proceeding ‘Normally’ … City, kray and national officials have all noted that the Sochi flood has not led to any loss of life, although three people have been injured.  No one has yet provided a public estimate of property losses or how much will be needed to repair the infrastructure to the point that it will be able to support the influx of Olympiad visitors.  At present some 1780 emergency service workers are pumping water out of low-lying areas and reinforcing river banks and roadsides (bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-25/russia-cleans-up-olympic-host-city-sochi-after-flooding.html and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230668/).
…Zhirinovsky Blames US for Weather Attack on Russia … Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of Russia’s LDPR, said that the storm in Sochi was not a natural disaster but rather the result of an American plot to block the Olympiad by manipulating te weather. “Today,” he said, “only the Americans can affect natural storms” in this way.  Russia has alost the smaecapacity,  but “we as always have not decided to make use of it.”  Unfortunately, he continued, the Americans feel no constraints in this regard (internovosti.ru/text/?id=76384).
…Experts Doubt Situation Can Be Corrected Before Games … The problems with Sochi’s drainage and sewage systems, because of the aging base and incautious overloading of its piples, is so severe, Russian experts say, that there is no possibility to take the steps necessary to correct the situation before next February.  The best that anyone can hope for is that there won’t be a storm during the Olympiad and that there will be an inventory completed before the games of the problems that will have to be addressed later (ng.ru/regions/2013-09-25/6_sochi.html).
…Kozak Says No Olympic Facilities were Damaged … Despite photographs showing that many roads leading to the Olympic sites were flooded or even damaged by the flood, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the Olympiad for Moscow said that no
“Olympic objects had suffered as a result of the storm.” Like the members of the IOC delegation who visited the city during the storm, Kozak said that the Russian organizers had passed thi test of flooding just as they had earlier passed the tests of earthquakes and snowfalls (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/20010-dmitrij-kozak-lolimpijskie-obekty-ot-stihii-ne-postradalir). Aleksandr Zhukov, head of the Moscow Olympic Committee, however, says that not everything is ready. The main Olympic stadium does not have a finished roof and many transportation arteries and hotels are not ready for use.  Moreover, electric, water, and sewer lines must be installed, and many of them won’t be before after the games (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B0-%D0%B7%D0%B0-%D0%B7%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BC/).
…And IOC’s Killy Says No One Would Notice if Rains Hit During Olympiad. Jean-Claude Killy, a former Olympian and now a member of the IOC, said that Russian officials had managed the storm so well that “if such rains occur during the time of the Games, we wouldn’t even notice them” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230668/). In other comments, Killy acknowledged that much more needs to be done over the next several months for Sochi to be ready to host the games (ria.ru/sport/20130926/965990395.html#ixzz2fzY7wjQn).
Grozny Conference Says ‘Destructive Forces’ Seeking to Undermine Olympiad.  A conference on “Strengthening the Family and the Development of Sport as a Factor of the Social Stability of Society” said that those countries and other “destructive forces” who want to block the Olympics must be opposed by all people of good will. It declared that efforts to boycott Sochi could only be viewed as “provocations and opposition to the process of restoring peace and stability in the North Caucasus Federal District” (kavkazoved.info/news/2013/09/23/obraschenie-uchastnikov-konferencii-ukreplenie-semi-i-razvitie-sporta-20-09-2013.html).
Regional Development Ministry Continues Effort to Shift Blame from Itself.  Russian regional development ministry officials continued their efforts to blame Gosstroy for the disappearance of money intended for the development of the Sochi Olympic facilities, an effort that has had the unintended consequence of highlighting just how much money has in fact been diverted (regnum.ru/news/polit/1686772.html#ixzz2ftWzAGC0  andvedomosti.ru/realty/news/14358351/gosstroj-ostalsya-bezfundamenta).
Moscow Police Arrest LGBT Activists, Sochi Bans Gay Parade, But Russian and IOC Officials Insist Gays Won’t Have Problems at Games. Moscow police detained ten LGBT activists at the headquarters of the Russian Olympic Committee in the Russian capital (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230615/). Sochi Mayor Aleksandr Pakhomov refused to give permission for a gay pride parade in his city (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230697/). But two things remained constant: LGBT activists said they would continue their protests in the streets and in the courts (gaystarnews.com/article/gay-activists-protest-olympic-inspections-despite-ban200913) and both Russian and IOC officials said there would be no problems for homosexuals during the Games in Sochi (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230697/).
Georgia May Revisit Boycott of Sochi, Some Officials Say.  If Russian or IOC officials do not live up to their promises not to allow athletes or journalists from Abkhazia and South Osetia to take part in the Olympiad, Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Pandzhikidze said Tbilisi may revisit the possibility of a boycott. Other Georgian officials said they were confident that there would be no need for the Georgian government to do so (vestikavkaza.ru/analytics/Olimpiyskoe-peremirie-okoncheno.html and vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19904-gruzinskie-sportsmeny-mogut-ne-priehat-na-olimpiadu-v-sochi)..
Putin, in Sochi, Warns Terrorism Can Enter from Abroad.  Speaking to the CSTO summit in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Puti said that “the problem of terrorism spilling from one country to another is absolutely real and could directly affect the interests of any one of our countries.”  He said that many militants now in Syria could come to one of the post-Soviet states and caue trouble.  “The militants [there] did not come out of nowhere, and they will not vanish into thin air” (courant.com/news/nation-world/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-russia-militancy-20130923,0,6190119.story).
Terrorists Won’t Be Able to Disrupt Sochi Olympiad, Moscow Paper Says.  Terrorist groups in the North Caucasus may be able to inflict “not a little” damage by their actions, but they will not be able to “disrupt” the games themselves, according to the editors of Moscow’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta.”  The paper said that officials expect that terrorist activity will increase in the region in the coming months and may involve female suicide bombers (ng.ru/editorial/2013-09-25/2_red.html).
Anti-Sochi Play Stuns London Audiences.  A play written by Tess Berry Hart to protest Moscow’s anti-LGBT laws and actions has stunned London audiences, according to reviewers.  British audiences are typically quiet, “they sit and clap at the end,” one said.  “But this time, people were going: ‘oh, no!’ [and] ‘shame!’ (spectrumhr.org/?p=1549).
Moscow Not Honoring Promises to Make Olympics Accessible, HRW Expert Says. Andrea Mazzarino, a specialist on the rights of people with disabilities, said that Moscow has failed to keep its promises to make Olympic venues accessible. Indeed, she said, conversations with handicapped people in Sochi suggest that despite its international commitments, Moscow has done little or nothing in this regard.  Russia has received plaudits for some because it agreed this time around to host the Para-Olympics, unlike in 1980, when it refused to do so arguing that “there are no disabled people in the USSR” (huffingtonpost.com/andrea-mazzarino/russias-hurdles-for-peopl_b_3975976.html).
Human Rights Watch Launches Online Petition to IOC about Sochi.  HRW has launched an online petition demanding that new IOC President Thomas Bach require that Russia live up to the provisions of the Olympic Chater. So far, he and his predecessors have not done so, “they have failed to act but cannot ignore the voices of thousands,” the online petition says (secure.hrw.org/site/c.nlIWIgN2JwE/b.8781945/k.3A95/Sochi_2014_Thank_You.htm).
Roundup of Illegal Gastarbeiters May Leave Many Sochi Businesses Short of Staff.Small businesses in Sochi are complaining that they may not be able to find enough workers to fill all the slots they have in the wake of the sweeping crackdown against illegal gastarbeiters there. They have protested to city and kray officials, but the latter have not yet made any concessions (sochinskie-novosti.com/  ).
 ochi Police Close Another Drug Den.  Police in Sochi have announced that they have identified and closed yet another house where drugs are being sold and used (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/24).
Officials Ignoring Russian Laws to Build Highway to Putin Country House.  Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus says that Russian officials are ignoring Russian laws in their rush to build a road to a house that will be use by Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In the process, these officials are destroying rare natural habitats that in some cases are unique (forum-msk.org/material/news/10054932.html).
USOC Attracts More Sponsors by Focusing on Domestic Audience.  The US Olympic Committee has won more sponsors for the American team in Sochi by focusing on domestic events in the United States, including a nationwide 13-city “Road to Sochi” tour to be launched in New York City on October 29.  USOC officials say that sponsorship is up, “not only is it bigger than Vancouver; its as big as the London Games in terms of its size and footprint” (usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/09/23/us-olympic-committee-sponsors-sochi/2854041/).
Access to Moscow’s Red Square to Be Restricted for Olympic Event.  Russian officials have announced that they will severely restrict access to Moscow’s Red Square September 30-October 11 for an Olympic festival and the passin of the Olympic torch there (newizv.ru/lenta/2013-09-23/189466-dostup-na-krasnuju-ploshad-ogranichat-iz-za-estafety-olimpijskogo-ognja.html).
Activists Say Meetings with Sochi Officials ‘a Theater of the Absurd’ and Vow Action.  Saying that Sochi city officials have made a mockery of public consultations, activists there say that the time of public hearing “has passed” and that those concerned about defending the law and protecting the interests of residents must take other forms of action (blogsochi.ru/content/teatr-absurda-0).
Sochi Officials Launch Media Attacks on Blogsochi Editor. Upset by what Blogsochi has reported about shortcomings in the Olympic city, Sochi officials have begun a black PR campaign against its editor Aleksandr Valov. It turns out Valov say that “there are no problems in Sochi except one – Valov himself” (blogsochi.ru/content/chernyi-piar-%E2%80%93-tozhe-piar).
Convicted Official Allowed to Serve Sentence Not in Camps but in Private Home.Oleg Sheveyko, former head of the architecture department of the Sochi city government, is being allowed to serve his sentence not in the camps as the courts ordered but in a private home, the latest case of officials protecting one of their own (sochi-24.ru/politika/byvshij-arhitektor-sochi-smozhet-otbyvat-srok-na-svobode.2013923.68340.html).
Sochi Cafes and Restaurants Told to Serve Ethnic Russian Food.  Sochi officials have told the operators of cafes and restaurants that they should focus on serving ethnic Russian food rather than that from any other national cuisine as the Olympics approaches (sochiadm.ru/press-sluzhba/20352/).
Six Rocket Launchers to Protect Sochi Games. Russian Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin says that six Pantsir-S rocket systems will be arrayed around the Olympic city to protect it against attacks from the air (ria.ru/defense_safety/20130921/964884363.html#ixzz2fYKu3U70business-standard.com/article/news-ians/russia-to-secure-sochi-olympics-with-air-defence-systems-113092200574_1.html and itar-tasskuban.ru/news/article?type=city2014&i=47798
Canadian Group Calls for Putting Rainbow Colors on Canadian Olympic Uniforms. Canadians United Against Discrimination at the 2014 Sochi Olympics has called for the Canadian team to wear the rainbow symbol as well as the Canadian flag (facebook.com/events/643052802374206/). There and elsewhere, anti-Sochi activists are selling t-shirts showing the Olympic rings of Sochi as handcuffs (twitter.com/larussophobe/status/381172761063735296/photo/1/large?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=larussophobe&utm_content=381172761063735296).
Illegal Worker Crackdown in Sochi Nets Legal Workers and Even Tourists.  The campaign to arrest and deport illegal gastarbeiters from Sochi over  the next month has been so broad that in addition to leading to approximately 200 legitimate arrests, it has resulted in the detention of completely legal Russian citizens with residence permits and tourists visiting the Olympic city (nazaccent.ru/content/9121-trudovye-migranty-rossiyane-zhaluyutsya-na-narusheniya-ih.html and www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230313/).
No Discussion of Boycotts at IOC, Russian Olympic Head Says.  Aleksandr Zhukov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee, said that “not one of the members of the IOC at any of the sessions [of that group] has ever raised the issue of a [possible] boycott of the Olympic Games in 2014” (mir24.tv/news/sport/8003433).
Foreign Leaders Must Not to Come to Sochi if Bolotnaya Protesters Not Freed, Nemtsov Says.  A commentatory on Ekho Moskvy says that a boycott of the Sochi Olympiad is a bad idea but that the Olympics must not be allowed to become a means for boosting Vladimir Putin’s standing nationally and internationally.  Instead, Boris Nemtsov argues, Russian liberals should insist that foreign leaders not attend unless Putin frees the Bolotnaya protesters (echo.msk.ru/blog/nemtsov_boris/1160672-echo/).
Olympic Contractors Break Major Water Main in Sochi. In their rush to complete work, Olympic contractors have broken a major water main in Sochi and left many residents without water (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/20/  ).
3,000 People from Russian Regions to Take Part in Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Some 3,000 people from across the Russian Federation have been recruited to take part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics and Para-Olympics (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/20/
).
Circassians to Launch Almanac to Acquaint the World with Their Cause.  Circassians in the North Caucasus have announced plans to publish an almanac about the history, culture and political goals of their nation in advance of the Sochi Olympiad which is slated to take place on the site of the 1864 genocide of that people (hekupsa.com/cherkesiya/obzor/1399-otkrytoe-obrashchenie-andreya-ostashko-cherkesskomu-narodu).
Kozak Says Russia Must Not Shift to Winter Time Before End of Olympiad.  Dmitry Kozak says that schedules are so precise that Moscow must not shift from summer to winter time before the Sochi Games are completed (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230676/).  In another statement, he backs away from his earlier insistence that Sochi residents would be blocked from using their own vehicles in the city during the games (Http://www.yuga.ru/news/308462/).
35 Illegal Workers from Bosnia-Herzegovina Caught near Russian-Abkhaz Border. Russian officials say they have arrested 35 illegal workers from Bosnia-Herzegovina near the Russian-Abkhaz border. They came on tourist visas but then remained to work at Sochi construction sites (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/27/).
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 20 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 20 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 30th special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowledge or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
Putin Says Sochi’s Main Enemy ‘Not Gays, Ecologists or Americans But Time.’During a visit to Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that preparation for the Olympiad was going well but that there was still a great deal to be done and that he was ordering biweekly progress reports from Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the games and would personally visit the  Olympic sites to make sure that everything is ready. “The main enemy of the Sochi Olympiad,” the Russian leader said, “is not gays, ecologists or the Americans. The main enemy is time,” which is now running short.”  He also directed that ticket prices be reduced for Russian citizens so that they will be able to watch the competition from the stands rather than only via television (polit.ru/article/2013/09/17/olymp/sochi-24.ru/politika/putin-poobeshal-priezzhat-v-sochi-pochashe.2013917.68127.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230175/,  itar-tass.com/c20/878552.html,en.ria.ru/sports/20130916/183496079/Putin-Admits-to-Glitches-in-Sochi-Olympic-Preparations.html, and globaltimes.cn/content/811936.shtml#.Uji2_z_f4UM).
Moscow Ignores Georgian Offer to Help with Olympic Security.  David Dzhaganiya, Georgia’s deputy foreign minister, says that Tbilisi has offered to help with Olympic security but that the Russian government has “ignored” the proposal. Nevertheless, the Georgia diplomat said, Georgia will do what it can as a responsible member of the international community opposed to terrorism (kavpolit.com/mid-gruzii-svyazal-zaderzhanie-lakaeva-v-batumi-s-bezopasnostyu-olimpiady-v-sochi/).
Sochi Residents, Ecological Activists Upset by Delay of Hearings on Environment. The Sochi city government agreed and then reneged on a promise to host a discussion on Moscow’s plans to eliminate some environmental protection regulations in order to allow more construction. The session, announced for September 17, has been rescheduled for Ocober 30.  Many residents and environmentalists say the delay further harms the environment and damages Russia’s image in the West (blogsochi.ru/content/novoe-napadenie-na-imidzh-sochi-kurorta).
Russian MiitaryWon’t Use Draftees to Guard Sochi Games.  The Russian defense ministry says that Moscow will use only professional soldiers to serve as army guards at the Sochi Olympiad, a plan intended to reassure many that such guards will be more highly trained than draftees but one that is likely have exactly the opposite effect: Not only are “kontraktniki” as the professionals are often known frequently involved with “dedovshchina” and other crimes, butMoscow has promised that it won’t send draftees to hotspots.  Some may conclude on the basis of this announcement that Russian officials view Sochi as potentially one of them (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/18/%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8B-%D1%81%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%BE%D1%85%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D1%8F%D1%82%D1%8C-%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%B4%D1%83-%D0%BD%D0%B5-%D0%B1%D1%83%D0%B4%D1%83%D1%82/).
Historical Preservationists Alarmed by Destruction of Cultural Monuments in Sochi. Environmentalists have attracted more attention, but members of Russia’s community of historical preservationists are expressing outrage about the destruction of key cultural sites in Sochi, including the one-time home of Fyodor Chaliapin (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BE-%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%84%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D1%85-%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%85-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F%D1%85-%D0%B8-%D1%81%D1%87%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%B2%D1%8B%D1%85-%D0%BB%D1%8E%D0%B4%D1%8F%D1%85/).
Is the IOC Prepared to Ban Christian Crosses or Jewish Stars of David? “Unless the International Olympic Committee plans to ban Christian crosses and Jewish Stars of David, they’re going to be in a world of hurt if they try to ban rainbows at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia,” according to John Aravoisis of Americablog.com. “Why?  Because the rainbow is the symbol of the Metropolitan Community Church [and not just of LGBT activists].  And if Olympics athletes want to show their support for the MCC church during the Sochi Olympics, the IOC is going to have one hell of a backlash if they try to ban expressions of support for a Christian faith” (americablog.com/2013/09/olympics-going-ban-christian-crosses-stars-david.html).
Russian Oligarchs Need Olympiad for Money Laundering, Sochi Resident Says. “You think that we Sochi residents need the Olympics?” one Sochi taxi driver says.  It is the Russian oligarchs who need it so that they can “launder” money. “You can forget about Sochi as a resort” as far as they and the Olympic organizers are concerned. The oligarchs are maing profits, “and we are left without work and are force to try to survive” (http://blogsochi.ru/content/inosmi-kak-iz-sochi-za-30-milliardov-shveitsariyu-i-dubai-delayut.
Few Now in Sochi Speak English and Many Steal from Visitors.  A recent visitor to Sochi says he was shocked by how few people in the Olympic city know English and but how much street crime there is.  He says someone stole his cellphone on the very first day of his time there. He added that services in general are not up to international standards (blogsochi.ru/content/sochi-glazami-inostrantsa-spetsproezdy-servis-naryady-i-mnogoe-drugoe).
Hunting Season Restricted in Karelia on Olympic Flame Route.  Hunters in the Republic of Karelia will not be allowed to engage in their sport in three districts along the route that runners will carry the Olympic flame.  That is to prevent any untoward accidents, officials there say.  The republic will also deploy “more than 1,000” MVD troops to ensure the safety of the runners (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19789-olimpiada-stanet-prichinoj-zakrytija-ohotnichego-sezona-v-karelii).
Russian Meteorologists Forecast Above-Freezing Temperatures for Olympics. Russian meteorolgists predict that temperatures will be about normal during the Olympics, with the average temperature being about four degrees centigrade (40 degrees Fahrenheit). The forecasters say that temperatures will be higher than that during the para-Olympiad to follow (ria.ru/eco/20130917/963746379.html#ixzz2f94BgrhN).
Circassians Say ‘Kadyrov Isn’t Kanokov’ after Chechen Leader Opens Monument to Those Who Opposed Russian Advance in 19th Century.  Ramzan Kadyrov’s willingness to erect a monument to Chechens who resisted Russian imperialism 150 years ago has prompted Circassians to complain that leaders in their republics are not equally willing to do the same in honor of their ancestors who fought longer than anyone else against Russian forces (hekupsa.com/cherkesiya/obzor/1372-kadyrov-ne-kanokov-on-ne-stesnyaetsya-stavit-pamyatniki-natsionalnym-geroyam).
‘Gay Olympics’ Putting Pressure on Putin, Forcing Others to Take Sides.  According to one commentator, the success LGBT activists have had in bringing international attention to Moscow’s policies about gays in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics is putting enormous pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and forcing everyone, the IOC, athletes, journalists, and fans to take a position.  “Among the activists’ soft targets,” he says, “are the sports bureaucracies – thousands ad thousands of obscure bodies, specializing inlue or biathlon, in every country on the globe.  Each has its own constitutuencies, its own pressure points. And each will have to make the sorts of decisions that sports bureaucrats lvie to avoid: What is our stance on LGBT rights?”  Fans will “have to make a choice too” (buzzfeed.com/saeedjones/holding-the-olympics-in-our-gay-world).
Circassian Named Second Krasnodar Deputy Governor.  Although “the Circassian question has been bypassed in most discussions of the Sochi Olympics,” Sufian Zhemukhov says in a detailed analysis of their situation, Circassians have gained a second deputy governor in Krasnodar kray with the appointment of Jambulat Khatuyov to that post.  “There are now two Circassian deputy governors there,” even though ethnic Circassians form less than one percent of the kray’s population. This event is another indication that Moscow is concerned about the Circassian issue and wants to be able to point to such actions as the Olympiad approaches (circassianworld.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/the-circassian-dimension-of-the-2014-sochi-olympics-by-sufian-zhemukhov/).
Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Prepares for Sochi.  Aleksandr Chupriyan, deputy minister for emergency situations, says that his officers have been preparing for the Olympics for six years and are ready for any eventuality (kavpolit.com/mchs-rf-gotovo-k-obespecheniyu-bezopasnosti-zimnej-olimpiady-v-sochi/).
Moscow Television Airs Program ‘The Games Under Lock and Key.’  The MIR channel broadcasts a program on preparations for the Sochi Olympics. As its title suggests, the program stressed that security will be tight, but it also suggested that all the basic facilities for the games will soon be ready (argumenti.ru/society/2013/09/284131).
Sochi Construction Sites Recall Post-War Soviet Union.  The extent of destruction of the environment physical and human and the lack of water, electricity, shelter and food “recall the post-war period” of Soviet history, according to one local activist who says that the current situation is increasingly unbearable for Sochi residents and that ever more of them are considering taking part in protest actions like the one the resident of Akhkshtyr have initiated by blocking a major road to attract attention to their plight (blogsochi.ru/content/zhiteli-poselka-akhshtyr-adlerskogo-raiona-sochi-perekryli-dorogu-v-znak-protesta,blogsochi.ru/content/olimp-novosti and blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskii-sochi-xxi-vek).
Animal Rights Activists Say Sochi about to Kill More Homeless Cats and Dogs. Despite its promises not to do so, after earlier protests, the Sochi city government appears to be preparing to launch a new campaign to get homeless cats and dogs off the streets by seizing and then killing them, animal rights activists say. To block that, the activists are pushing to build a pound to protect the animals and the city has agreed to provide some financing (blogsochi.ru/content/zashchitniki-khvostatykh-byut-trevogu-i-prosyat-o-pomoshchi andhttp://blogsochi.ru/content/priyut-dlya-bezdomnykh-zhivotnykh-dolzhen-zarabotat-v-sochi-uzhe-v-noyabre).
Petersburg Political Activists Call for Sochi Boycott.  A group of activists in Russia’s northern capital have called for a boycott of the Sochi Olympiad unless Moscow releases all political prisoners and respects constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly (rosbalt.ru/piter/2013/09/16/1176073.html).
Sochi Residents Protest Destruction of Shakha River.  Sochi residents say that corporations and officials involved in Olympic construction have violated both Russian law and their own promises and are continuing to take gravel from the bed of the Shakha River, effectively destroying that waterway (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/230094/).
Cher Refuses to Sing at Sochi.  Cher says she has refused a proposal that she perform at the Sochi Olympiad because of “all the’gay hate’ in Russia.”  The unnamed oligarch told her, she said, hat “the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does” about LGBT people (gayapolis.com/news/artdisplay-people.php?artid=25845).
Can Putin Be Trusted about Sochi? HRW Official Asks.  Tanya Lokshina, who is Russian program director at Human Rights Watch, says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that “people of non-traditional sexual orientation are not discriminated against” in Russia is “welcome.””But is he to be trusted? As is often the case [in Russia], it’s one step forward and two steps backward”( http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/13/opinion/lokshina-russia-gay-persecution/index.html).
Russian Fans Burn Chechen Flag at SPB Football Match. Russian fans burned a Chechen flag after a football game in St. Petersburg, the latest indication of the ways in which passions about sports can spill over into ethnic and political conflict (chechenews.com/developments/13840-1.html)..
Circassian Group Says Moscow Plans to Organize Terrorist Incident to Discredit Circassian Cause.  The Circassian Parliament, a Circassian NGO, says that it is “100 percent” certain that the Russian security agencies plan to organize a terrorist incident in or around Sochi in order to discredit them. The group says that Moscow may use Chechens now living in western Europe as a means to recruit some who could be presented to the world as Circassian activists (freecircassia.ucoz.com/news/radikalnye_islamisty_sredi_lic_ishhushhikh_politicheskoe_ubezhishhe/2013-09-15-326 and facebook.com/circassian.parlament/posts/292170664258406).
Gay Activists Seek to Hold Parade in Sochi on September 26. LGBT activists in Sochi have asked for permission to hold a gay rights parade on September 26, the day that the IOC plans to hold its final press conference on preparations for the Sochi Olympiad.  The request is a clear test of what the Russian authorities will and won’t allow in this area (rus-obr.ru/ru-web/26389).
Tkachev Presses to Remove All Illegal Immigrants from Sochi in 60 Days.  Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev says his officials will do what hey have to do in order that there will not be any illegal immigrants in Sochi two months from now.  Give labor shortges, that effort may run into trouble with companies still trying to complete Olympic-related construction proects (rus-obr.ru/ru-web/26343).
Russia Agrees to More Tolerant Olympic Truce after International Pressure.  The Russian government has acceped a UN-prepared Olympic Peace after behind the scenes pressure from other countries that callsfor the  Sochi Games to “promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.”  The document, prepared and approved by the UN every two years, now contains language that all sides support (newsru.com/russia/15sep2013/olymp.html and nytimes.com/2013/09/15/sports/russia-is-persuaded-to-alter-statement-to-call-for-inclusion.html?_r=0).
Sochi Mayor Promises ‘Straightest’ Olympics Ever in YouTube Parody. A satirical YouTube clip shows the Sochi mayor andhis two sidekicks, Cruisin’ and Grindr, promising”the straightest ever Winter Olympics” competitions in which there won’t be any “homosexual hanky-panky.”  Bobsled teams will now sit man-woman-man-woman lest there be any samesex contact, curling will be renamed straighting, and downhill skiing will beonly straight line lest there be any swishing. The clip ends with the mayor saying “Come toSochi … but not if homosexuals” (www.gaystarnews.com/article/sochi-mayor-advertises-straightest-ever-winter-olympics-youtube-parody-hit140913 and youtube.com/watch?v=RscB_1srUBA&feature=youtu.be ).
100,000 Still at Work on Olympic Construction.  Despite suggestions by Russian officials that basic construction work is completed, “more than 100,000” builders are still working on the sites (kuban.rbc.ru/krasnodar_freenews/13/09/2013/876593.shtml). .
Biathlonists Practice in Mud. Russian biathlon team members who came to Sochi for practice runs had to ski through mud because the weather is too warm to support even manmade snow, officials acknowledge and photographs who (blogsochi.ru/content/sport-i-gryaz-sochi).
Campaign to Have Foreign Officials Boycott Games Attracts More Supporters. Pavel Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Bukovsky, Lev Ponomarev, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Boris Nemtsov, and Irina Privina are just some of the Russian activists who have signed the appeal to foreign leaders not to attend the Sochi Games (change.org/olympicshamesrus).
Sochi Looks as if It has Been Bombed.  A survey of the state of work on Olympic sites with fewer than 150 days until the opening ceremony finds that instead of fountains, there are pits,and that instead of a welcoming resort there are places that look like they have been targeted by bombers. Worse, some construction is now having to be torn down and replaced because it was not build properly in the first place or did not contain the necessary water and sewage lines. A recent example is that numerous streets have been torn up because the necessary pipeline infrastructure was not installed in the first place (blogsochi.ru/content/aif-do-olimpiady-v-sochi-menshe-150-dnei-gotov-li-gorod  and http://blogsochi.ru/content/do-olimpiady-v-sochi-%E2%80%93-140-dnei).
Sochi Acquires Three More Leaning Towers of Pisa.  After officials tore down a house that had begun to lean because of inadequate foundation work, they promised that there would be no more. But now, pictures show, there are at least three additional “leaning towers” in Sochi, more than in the famous Italian city.  These structures appear to be collapsing because those who prepared the foundations did not do the necessary work (sochi-24.ru/nedvizhimost/eshe-tri-doma-v-sochi-mogut-prevratitsya-v-pizanskie-bashni.2013913.68009.html).
Anti-Immigrant Sweep Hurting Builders.  Any contractor who hires an illegal worker now faces a fine of 800,000 rubles (27,000 US dollars), one that if enforced will mean that many companies won’t have enough workers to do finish their jobs and that many oligarchs behind these companies will lose money, given the numbers of such workers involved (sochinskie-novosti.com/800-%D1%82%D1%8B%D1%81%D1%8F%D1%87-%D0%B7%D0%B0-%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%83-%D0%BC%D0%B8%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D1%82%D0%B0/).Meanwhile, Two Sochi residents have been charged with providing false documentation to illegal migrants to allow them to remain in the city although they are not working as the documents specify (prokuratura-krasnodar.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5779:2013-09-19-08-14-12&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=253).
Circassians Blamed for Armenian Massacres in 1915.  As part of Moscow’s anti-Circassian campaign, a Moscow newspaper suggests that Circassians working in the Ottoman Empire played a key role in the mass killing of Armenians there in 1915. This attack is cleverly designed to make it more difficult for Circassians to attract support for their own calls for international recognition of the genocide inflicted on them by Russian forces (segodnia.ru/content/127499).
Circassian Alpinist Says Sochi has Attracted Attention to Circassian People. Karina Mezova, a Circassian mountain climber who has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch up Mount Elbrus, says that the Sochi Games are playing a positive role by attracting more attention to the Circassians than they could have hoped for otherwise. “The very fact that the Olympiad will take place on our land serves as a symbol of the rebirth of the nation…The Olympiad in Sochi is in the first instance recognition of the history of the Circassians theselves and about their culture. It shows that no onehas forgotten about us” (cir.rus4all.ru/city_msk/20130913/724411660.html).
Roundup of Illegals Turning Sochi into ‘a Concentration Camp.’ The anti-immigrant sweep in Sochi is leading to “real ethnic cleansing” there, with many legally registered but non-native people being swept up and detained in what can only be described as “concentration camps,” journalists say (svoboda.org/content/article/25111259.html andblogsochi.ru/content/osada-sochi-kak-olimpiada-prevrashchaetsya-v-chrezvychainuyu-situatsiyu). Activists have even distributed guidance on what to do if officials try to detain someone illegally (blogsochi.ru/content/kak-reagirovat-na-proverki-registratsii).
Profits ‘Real Reason’ Olympic Movement Caving to Russia.  Despite claims to the contrary, the Olympic movement is about money, and few in it are prepared to lose any of that in order to promote the rights of LGBT people, according to an analysis of financial flows into the IOC, national Olympic commitees, specialized training groups, and athletes (policymic.com/articles/64021/sochi-2014-the-real-reason-the-olympics-are-caving-to-russia-s-anti-gay-law).
Moscow Not Meeting Its Commitments on Accessibility. In a 118-page report, Human Rights Watch has documented the ways in which Moscow has failed to live up to its commitment to make Olympic venues accessible for people with disabilities (themoscowtimes.com/olympic_coverage/article/russias-disabled-face-uphill-battle/485954.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229977/  and sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%B2-%D0%BA-%D0%B1%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%8C%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%83/)..
Fourth Russian Elected to IOC Despite Large No Vote. Aleksandr Zhukov was elected to the International Olympic Committee despite 29 votes against him. Sochi Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko says that his election “speaks indirectly of recognition from the side of the IOC of the contribution of [Russia] to the development of the Olympic movement” (en.rsport.ru/olympics/20130910/686270441.html).
Gazprom Becomes FIFA Sponsor, Moscow Proposes to Host Euro 2020.  Russia’s Gazprom will sponsor FIFA from2015 to 2018, officials have announced, and the Russian football association says that it will nominate St. Petersburg to host the Euro 2020 competitions (thenewstribune.com/2013/09/15/2785951/russias-gazprom-signs-sponsorship.html anden.rsport.ru/football/20130912/686273236.html).
IOC Refuses to Register Abkhaz and South Osetian Olympic Committees. The IOC has voted to refuse to register the Olympic committees of the two breakaway republics and thus athletes from there will not be allowed to participate in the competitions (insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1016087-exclusive-we-do-not-recognise-nocs-for-abkhazia-or-south-ossetia-says-ioc-official).
Moscow Brings in French Experts to Help Produce Ice for Sochi.  In what has to be a major embarrassment, Russian officials have imported ice-making specialists from France to ensure that there will be ice at the Olympic venues for competiions (blogsochi.ru/content/v-tsentre-sannogo-sporta-%C2%ABsanki%C2%BB-namorazhivayut-olimpiiskii-led).
Ecologists Say Environment Harm at Sochi Will be Long-Lasting.  Leaders of he Ecologial Watch for the North Caucasus say that the environmental destruction Olympic construction has inflicted on the region will be especially long-lasting because there are no plans on compensating forit after the games are over (blogsochi.ru/content/bystree-vyshe-silnee-protiv-prirody).
Russian Oligarchs Pressing to Get Their Money Back.  Russian oligarchs who were pressured into investing in Sochi are now demanding that they be paid even more than they have been, implicitly threatening to walk away from construction unless that happens(sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%85%D0%B8-%D0%B6%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B0%D1%8E%D1%82-%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BD%D1%83%D1%82%D1%8C-%D0%B7%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8B-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%B4%D1%83/).
Moscow Plans to Send 5-10 Billion Rubles More to Sochi for Construction.Vneshenkonbank says that Moscow will sent 5-10 billion rubles 160-320 million US dollars) more for Olympic construction. Whether this will go for new building or to pay off existingcontractors is not clear (ria.ru/sochi2014/20130918/964074030.html#ixzz2fJvuRezp).
Russian Navy Ships to Be Shifted from Syria to Sochi.  In order to provide security for the Olympiad, Moscow is four two navy ships from the coast of Syria to the waters off Sochi, officials say (newsru.com/russia/19sep2013/shtil.html).
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 21 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 21 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 29th special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowledge or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
Putin Says Security in North Caucasus Must Be Improved Before Sochi … President Vladimir Putin says Moscow must make a new security push in the North Caucasus, “mobilizing all force strcutures and improving the coordination, quality and results of their joint efforts,” because “the situation [there] is improving too slowly” in advance of the Sochi Games. He also called for a struggle against corruption and for new investments in the region to reduce unemployment and boost development (itar-tass.com/c1/870371.html and news.mail.ru/politics/14685295/?frommail=1&social=fb).
… Blames Outsiders for Stirring Up Region … Putin adds that “foreign countries and public and international organizationsundertheircontrol keep seeing the North Caucasus as a foothold for destabilizing Russia as a whole.” The Russian security services must “act more harshly to thwart such attempts” in the coming months” (wralsportsfan.com/putin-foreign-nations-try-to-destabilize-caucasus/12865955/).
… Calls New IOC Chief But Doesn’t Talk about Gay Controversy.  The Russian president called new IOC President Thomas Bach to congratulate him but the two did not discuss Russia’s laws on gay propaganda, Bach told journalists.  Bach said he “trusted” earlier assurances that the Russian authorities have given about the reach of the law regarding Sochi competitors and visitors (usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/09/10/new-ioc-president-addresses-russia-anti-gay-law/2794643/).
Human Rights Watch Says New IOC Chief Should Focus on Rights Violations in Sochi.  HRW released a statement on the election of Thomas Bach as new IOC president saying that he should focus on ending the violation of human rights in the run up to and at the Sochi Olympiad, including in particular the mistreatment of workers, repression of civic activists and abuse of universal  human rights (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229925/).
Sochi Olympic Head Calls for End to ‘Campaign and Speculation’ about Gay Rights. Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi Olympics organizing committee, appealed to the IOC to help “stop this campaign and this speculation” about Russia’s anti-gay legislation.  “The people who are talking about this topic either haven’t read the laws or they have not understood the explanations of them.  It’s necessary to finally end the speculation about this issue” (sports.nationalpost.com/2013/09/08/sochi-2014-organizing-committee-asks-ioc-for-help-in-wake-of-russia-anti-gay-law-backlash/,en.rsport.ru/olympics/20130909/685612083.html, anddailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\09\10\story_10-9-2013_pg2_12).
IOC Says Russian Security Measures, including Fan Passport, ‘Justified.’  “The Russian authorities are taking those security measures in connection with the Olympiad at Sochi which they consider necessary, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agrees with this approach,” IOC President Jacques Rogge says.  He suggested that the controversial fan passport will increase rather than decrease the ability of fans to move around during the games (itar-tasskuban.ru/news/article?type=city2014&i=4723).
Norwegian on IOC Says Sponsors Worried about Gay Protests at Sochi.  Gerhard Heiberg, who was president of the 1994 Lillehammer Games and now serves on the IOC, said that many US sponsors of the Games are frightened of what might happen in the event of gay protests at Sochi.  “I think this could ruin the Games a lot for us.  We have to stick to our (IOC) rule about nodemonstrations but we must also be prepared for such things happening” (dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\09\10\story_10-9-2013_pg2_12).
Obama Tells Russian Gay Activists ‘How Difficult’ It is to Raise Rights Issues with Moscow.  Activists who participated in a St. Petersburg meeting with US President Barack Obama say that he told them that it wasn’t always possible to advance their agenda because it is “difficult” for him “to raise these issues, especially in relations with Russia and China” (hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_OBAMA_GAY_RIGHTS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT ).
US Ambassador to Moscow Says United States Now Won’t Boycott Games.  “In the light of recent events,” apparently a reference to Vladimir Putin’s proposals on Syria, Michael McFaul, the US ambassador to the Russian Federation, says that the United States will not boycott the Sochi Olympiad.  In the same interview, he expressed regrets for his earlier comment that Russia is “a wild country” (sochi2014.rsport.ru/sochi2014/20130911/686047765.html and flashnord.com/news/posol-ssha-sozhaleet-chto-nazval-rossiyu-dikoy-stranoy).
Sochi Olympics ‘Power Vertical in its Purest Form,’ Moscow Sports Writer Says. James Ellingworth, who writes for Russian sports outlets, says that “for many in the older generation, Sochi revives a moment of pride from their youth in the Soviet Union, but it doesn’t resonate much for the under-25s, who have only ever had a Russian identity, not a Soviet one. The older generation includes the Russian elite, who remember the positive propaganda impact of the 1980 Games.”  Now, he continues, “Russian sport is the power vertical in its purest form. If the power vertical is the dominant political principle, then hosting the Olympics is supposed to show the Russian state’s organisational power. Winning medals is supposed to validate the power vertical as a managerial concept.” Consequently, “the Sochi Olympics mean a lot to Russians and onething is already clear: the Winter Games are not just a display of ‘Russia’s rise’to foreigners, but a force shaping the country’s idea of itself” The Shapsugs have been sending letters to Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials for months but have not received any response (rbth.ru/opinion/2013/09/12/what_the_sochi_olympics_mean_to_russia_29749.html).
NBA Head Criticizes Western Sports’ Silence on Gay Rights at Sochi.  David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, says that “everyone wants to talk about the Russian law on homosexuality. Think about the opportunities that sports have to make a continuing statement, and the only thing we’re saying in that context is ‘Shhhh! No one say anything!’” (philly.com/philly/sports/other_sports/NBA_commissioner_David_Stern_weighs_in_on_Sochi_Olympics_anti-gay_laws.html).
Shapsugs Protest Destruction of Their Land and People. The Shapsugs, a subgroup of the Circassian nation, once again are suffering because their traditional homeland around Sochi is too attractice to others. Nearly 150 years ago, they were deported and killed; now they are seeing their lands despoiled by those who want to “develop” their area with no thought to them or their environment.  Today, they and rights activists are holding a meeting in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, to press for recognition as an indigenous people with special rights, something the Russian authorities have refused to do, to demand an end to the destruction of the environment, and to protest Moscow’s plans to stage a re-enactment of the Russian occupation of Sochi in 1864 at the time of the Olympiad. The Shapsugs have been sending letters to Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials for months but have not received any response. (ekhokavkaza.com/content/article/25104445.html,zapravakbr.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=138%3Ashapsugi, andhekupsa.com/cherkesiya/golos-cherkesii/1274-obrashchenie-shapsugov-k-prezidentu-rossii).For another perspective on the Shapsugs and the current situation, see Nikolay Silayev’s 17-page summary of his 75 interviews of that community at georgiamonitor.org/upload/medialibrary/dec/decf3b61dff317ed7e11eb3f5ea2a27f.pdf).
Sochi Residents Blame Olympic Contractors for Destruction from Flooding.  Recent flooding in Sochi has been made worse by the way in which Olympic builders have proceeded. Doing things as quickly and cheaply as they can, the latter have ignored basic drainage and other principles of construction.  As a result, people in the region are suffering and visitors will be at risk if it rains (blogsochi.ru/content/navodnenie-na-razdolnoi).
Moscow Plan to Lift Restrictions on Building Near Sochi Threatens Environmental Wonders, Sparks Protests.  Plans by Russian ministries to ease or even eliminate restrictions on construction in nature preserves near Sochi threaten to destroy those natural wonders.  This has sparked demonstrations by local people despite official opposition and appeals from international ecological organizations for Moscow to put the needs of nature and the future ahead of those of contractors and profits now (sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/belye-skaly-agurskie-vodopady-i-drugie-pamyatniki-prirody-likvidiruyut.2013911.67903.htmlsochinskie-novosti.com/,   ewnc.org/node/12418izvestia.ru/news/556557,   gazaryan-suren.livejournal.com/117595.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229703/  andgreenpeace.org/russia/ru/campaigns/forests/nadzor/).
Keith Olberman Draws Parallel Between Sochi and Berlin Olympiads. On his ESPN program, Keith Olberman sharply criticized Moscow and the IOC, saying their efforts to suppress gay protest at Sochi are driven by fears of corporate losses.  In addition, he said that there were “frightening similarities” between Sochi 2014 and Berllin 1936, warning that international deference to Hitler at the time led the Nazi leader to become even more vicious and aggressive (advocate.com/politics/2013/09/10/keith-olbermann-sochi-olympics-rant).
EU Deputy Calls for European Officials to Boycott Sochi Games. Marek Migalski, a member of the European Parliament and the Committee for Russia-EU Cooperation, has organized a campaign to urge EU officials from attending the Sochi Competition. His group, called “Olympic Shames,” seeks to call attention to the worsening human rights situation in Russia and thus “not to legitimize the regimeof Putin.” Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition figure, has added his voice to this call (opinie.newsweek.pl/igrzyska-olimpijskie-soczi-2014-marek-migalski-rosja-kreml-newsweek-pl,artykuly,270016,1.html,themoscowtimes.com/olympic_coverage/article/bach-becomes-ioc-head-amid-sochi-olympics-controversy/485876.html  and change.org/olympicshames).
Sochi Games Now Widely Viewed as Profitting Putin Insiders. According to one Russian journalist, “the only way Russia can change perceptions that a select few insidershave been profiting from the Olymppic Games is by truly delivering aworld-class tourism hub afer all the Olympic (and Paralypitc) athletes have packed up and gone.”  There are some plans, but the outcome for many venues remains uncertain (russia-direct.org/content/what-tokyo-2020-can-learn-sochi-2014).
Sochi Residents Demand Olympic Organizers Face an International Tribunal. Saying that they are “hostages of the Olympics,” a group of Sochi residents has called for the organization of an international tribunal to examine and punish the actions of Olympiad organizers who are destroying their city in the name of preparing it for the competitions in 2014 (ru-nsn.livejournal.com/3442193.html and novayagazeta.ru/news/108925.html). Some of these protests are city-wide while others are occurring on a street-by-street basis (blogsochi.ru/content/zhiteli-ulitsy-sevastopolskoi-obratilis-s-pismom-k-vladimiru-putinu).Other Sochi residents are upset by the ways in which English is overwhelming Russian in signage in their city (polit.ru/article/2013/09/11/al110913/).
60 Flying Squads Search 150,000 Sochi Places for Illegal Migrants.  Under the direction of Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev, sixty mobile groups have fanned out across Sochi to search in every one of the 150,000 buildings and apartments in the city for illegal migrants with plans to detain and deport them.  Tkachev said the work is urgent: “There must not be one illegal in Sochi two months from now!” (blogsochi.ru/content/aleksandr-tkachev-potreboval-ubrat-iz-sochi-vsekh-nelegalov-cherez-dva-mesyatsa).
Novodvorskaya Calls for Sochi Fans to Wear T-Shirts with Names of Putin Victims. Valeriya Novodvorskaya, an opposition commentator, says that she believes Putin should have held the Olympiad in Kolyma because of its associations with his beloved GULAG rather than in Sochi. But since the competition will be in the latter, she urges those who attend to wear T-shirts with the names of Putin’s victims such as Khodorkovsky and Politkovskaya to remind him of the opposition to his rule and to deprive him of an ideological victory (grani.ru/opinion/novodvorskaya/m.218807.html).
Circassians Urged to Look Beyond Sochi.  Tiago Ferreira Lopes, a European analyst, says that the Circassians have achieved a great deal in the run-up to Sochi – they have been “able to develop a stronger notion of their own Identity” — but that they need to come up with a longer-term strategy to advance their national goals.  “Tibetan separatists did not downsize their protestsjust because the Beijing Summer Olympics did notearnthe political gains they were expecting.” Circassians should now use other international media events such as the Eurovisioin song competition and copy the successful organizing techniques of the Armenian diaspora and Palestinians, she says (strategicoutlook.org/caucasus/news-end-game-or-new-game-to-the-circabian-ethnonational-agenda.html). Other LGBT activists are making the same point and have prepared videos for Eurovision 2014 (spectrumhr.org/?p=1425). But some commentators are warning that the Circassians may soon be cast aside by their sponsors after the Games are over (kavpolit.com/cherkesskij-genocid-kak-evrejskij-xolokost/).
Olympics Reveals ‘Paradox of Sochi,’ Commentator Says.  One close observer of Sochi says that that city is “special in all respects. Its chief paradox  has been revealed as a result of the Olympic campaign: the more billions are spent on the development of Sochi as a resort city, the less it is like a resort city.”  Instead, it is place where “there is no water or electricity and where the natural environment has been destroyed” (sochinskie-novosti.com/     ).
Olympian Who Protested in 1968 Says Today’s Athletes Must Decide What to Do. Tommie Smith, who raised a black-gloved protest at the 1968 Olympiad, says “athletes got to make up their own minds up … They need to figure it out. I won’t do it for them. I have my own feelings” (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2013/olympics/wires/09/09/2090.ap.oly.tommie.smith.sochi.gay.law/).
Moscow Court Releases Figure in Olympic Corruption Scandal from Detention. A Moscow court has released Stanislav Khatskevich, the former director genera of the Krasnaya polyana company who has been charged with corruption, and has put him under house arrest until his trial (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229831/).
Sochi Olympic Chief Threatens Price-Gouging Airlines.  Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi Organizing Committee, says that airline companies must stop raising prices in advance of the competition to increase their profits.  He adds that if this continues, Moscow will arrange for low-cost competitors to fly between the Russian capital and Sochi and that the existing higher price carriers will have only empty seats (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/19602-chernyshenko-schitaet-rost-cen-na-aviabilety-v-sochi-nedopustimym).
Sochi to be ‘Most Emotionally Charged Olympiad’ in Decades. Michael Arace, a sports columnist for a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper says that “a new cold war is brewing” over Sochi and that the Games themselves will be “the most emotionally charged Olympiad of this century, regardless of whether the United States oorany other country boycotts.  The next 152 days are going to be interesting. The 16 days after that – from torch lighting to extinguishing – will be even more fascinating. What will Putin do?” (dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2013/09/08/cold-war-brews-as-winter-games-approach.html).
Circassians Plan Medal for Those Complicitous in Genocide and Cover Up.  Circassian groups  in Europe are planning to mint a special medal that they will present to Russian officials and the leaders of other countries who go to Sochi for their complicity in hiding the genocide of the Circassian people, the 150th anniversary of which will be marked in2014 (facebook.com/groups/418134964913502/permalink/575409139186083/).
US Sister City Calls on Sochi to Protest Russian Anti-Gay Law.  The city council of Long Beach, California, which has a sister city relationship with Sochi, unanimously voted to urge “our sister city of Sochi to join our protest” against the Russian law against homosexual propaganda among children (gazettes.com/news/politics/election-more-endorsements-for-several-candidates/article_9d3be6d4-15b7-11e3-b708-001a4bcf887a.html ).
Those Behind Illegal Building Say They Can’t Tear It Down Lest They Disturb Putin. The owners of the Kavkazskaya Riviera complex in Sochi, which local officials have declared to be in violation of city and regional codes, say they cannot tear it down because if they did, they would disturb President Vladimir Putin and his guests who stay at a neighboring facility (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229658/).
Moscow May Pull Bid for 2020 European Football Championship.  Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says Moscow may pull its bid to host the 2020 competition because it has already won the right to host the 2018 games and Russia’s chances of winning another are “close to zero” (football.sovsport.ru/blog/43939925953/vitaliy-mutko:-rossiya-mozhet-otkazatsya-ot-uchastiya-v-evro-202).
Russian Fans Have Long History of Violence.  An article in Moscow’s “Novyye izvestiya” documents something many know by anecdote: Russian fans have a long history of xenophobia and violence at sports competitions (newizv.ru/sport/2013-09-06/188480-bezumnaja-ljubov-k-sportu.html).
Moscow Paper Launchs ‘Faster, Higher, Funnier’ Cariacature Competition for Sochi. “Novyye izvestiya” has announced that it is holding an international cariacature competition in advance of the Sochi Games to identify the funniest characterizations of those competitions and the controversies around them (newizv.ru/society/2013-09-06/188458-bystree-vyshe-smeshnee.html).
SPB Police Look on as Thugs Beat Protester with ‘Nuremburg Trials Not Sochi Olympics’ Sign.  A video has surfaced showing Russian police in St. Petersburg  lookin on while thugs beat up a protester carrying a sign suggesting that the anti-gay organizers of the Sochi Olympiad should face a Nuremberg-style tribunal (pinknews.co.uk/2013/09/06/video-st-petersburg-protester-punched-in-the-face-while-police-look-on/).
Daily Show Takes on Putin Representative on Russian Human Rights Violations. Samantha Bee, a host of the show, found that “neither logic nor sarcasm” was able to crack the defense of Russia’s increasing crackdown on human rights by Andranik Migranyan, “who runs a Kremlin-approved policy group” in New York. Migranyan insisted that “gay people, they have the same rights as other people. Just don’t manifest this in presence of large public, with all this kind of parade, demonstration. … I think this is some kind of inferiority complex. Why the hell you have to have parades?” (advocate.com/comedy/2013/09/05/watch-daily-show-grills-russian-diplomat-gay-centaur-vladimir-putin).
Kasparov Says Putin Regime is Looking for More Enemies to Maintain Itself.  Gari Kasparov, former world chess champion and a leading Russian opposition figure, says that Putin probably hasn’t thought much about LGBT rights. But his attack on those rights is “a natural slide, the degradation of the Putin state that has always been lookiin for enemies. It’s the natural fate of any dictatorship to need enemies: Jews, Gypsies, gays, whoever.  It’s the same for Hitler, Mao, Mugabe, Lukashenko. It’s like drug users. Once you create an atmosphere of hatred, you need to increase the dose” periodically in order to maintain control (slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/09/04/garry_kasparov_the_chess_champion_turned_political_activist_explains_why.html ). That his regime plans to do more than ban homosexual propanda to young people is suggested in many ways, most recently by a Duma proposal to deprive those of “non-traditional sexual orientation” of their parental rights (themoscowtimes.com/news/article/gays-kids-could-be-taken-by-state-under-proposed-bill/485644.html).
Despite Pledge, Moscow Fails to Make Sochi Handicap Accessible.  As part of its Olympic agreement, the Russian government pledged to make all sites accessible to those with handicaps.  But visitors to the sites have found that this is not the case: stairs are simply blocked, but there are no available alternatives (blogsochi.ru/content/%C2%ABpodgotovka-meropriyatii-po-sozdaniyu-bezbarernoi-sredy%C2%BB).
Sochi Contractors’ Failure to Coordinate Creating Disasters, Sochi Residents Say. Each of the corporations involved in building for the Sochi Olympics is acting independently and failing to coordinate with others or with the government. As a result, the city’s skyline has been destroyed and many dangerous problems in transportation and the supply of essential services have been created (sochinskie-novosti.com/).   
Russian Nationalists Complain about Chechen Assertiveness in Sochi.  Chechens coming into Sochi are telling local Russians to learn Chechen or leave lest they be killed by other Chechens who will soon dominate the region, according to a Russian extreme nationalist group (via-midgard.info/news/uchi-kobyla-chechenskij-yazyk-zdes-skoro-vse.htm).
‘Crudeness’ and ‘Incompetence’ Now Said Hallmarks of Sochi Service Industry.  An official in the Sochi city government says that the flood of new people into the city’s service industry means that “crudeness” and “incompetence” have become the “hallmarks” of Sochi for many visitors.  Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov said such people were “traitors to the interests of Russia” and must be punished (http://www.sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/12/).
Russian Railways Says It Lacks Resources to Guarantee Safety at Sochi Facilities.Russian Rail says that it lacks the funds to ensure that 16 of its facilities in Sochi are safe and security, despite the requirements of various Russian directives over the last year (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/09/12/).
Moscow Now Says Sochi Construction Will Be Completed by Early January.  In the latest official confirmation that Moscow’s claims about progress in Sochi are overstated, Maksim Sokolov, the Russian transportation minister, now says that the transportation infrastructure there may not be finished until “the very beginning of January,” just a month before the competition.  He adds that “there is still a lot that must be done before the Olympiad” (ria.ru/society/20130911/962543574.html).
Tkachev to Bring in 400 Cossacks to Maintain Order During Olympics.  Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev says that he will bring in 400 Cossacks to maintain order during the competition.  They will be dressed in traditional garp and will be paid 25,000 rubles (900 US dollars) for their contributions in this regard (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/229862/).
Moscow Historian Denies Moscow Wanted to ‘Depopulate’ Circassian Areas. Andrey Areshev, a historian at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, says that Western students of the Caucasian wars in the 19th century have failed to recognize that Russia “was not interested in the absolute ‘depopulation’ of Caucasian lands” because the empire wanted to develop them economically.  Moreover, he says, “the Russian Empire used the most varied means, including force but not only force” to advance its ends (rus.ruvr.ru/2013_09_04/Zapad-reshil-uglubitsja-v-istoriju-narodov-Kavkaza-pered-Sochi-2014-6122/).
Tsarist General Said ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Circassians was Russia’s Policy. Tsarist Lt. Gen. Rostislav Fadeyev (1824-1883) wrote in his memoirs (republished in Moscow in 2003) about Russia’s Caucasus wars that Russia wanted to make the region populated by Circassians “truly Russian land” and to that end “cleansed the coastline of the mountaineers.” He added that “the expulsion ofhte mountaineers and the settlement of the Western Caucasus with ethnic Russians was the plan of war for its last four years” (aheku.org/page-id-419.html).
Addendum: Circassians Were Original Population of Sochi, Olympic Guidebook Sayswindowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/09/window-on-eurasia-circassians-were.html
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: PUTIN SAYS NEW SECURITY PUSH IN NORTH CAUCASUS NEEDED BEFORE SOCHI

WINDOW ON EURASIA: PUTIN SAYS NEW SECURITY PUSH IN NORTH CAUCASUS NEEDED BEFORE SOCHI

Paul Goble
            Staunton, September 9 – Vladimir Putin today called for a new security push in the North Caucasus before the Sochi Olympiad, lashed out at the West, but implicitly acknowledged Moscow’s current approach in that region isn’t working by suggesting that the country needs to “look for new approaches to the struggle with terrorism, extremism, and criminality.”
            The Russian president to the Security Council today that “despite obvious positive advances, the situation in the North Caucasus is improving too slowly” and that, as a result,
Russia “must mobilize all force structures and improve the coordination, quality and results of their joint efforts” (itar-tass.com/c1/870371.html).
            “The suppression and neutralization of the terrorist and criminal threat,” a necessary condition for “stabilization and increasing business and investment activity,” the Russian leader continued, “is especially important in connection with the holding of the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.”
            Putin said that Russia must focus on combatting “the anti-Russian activities of foreign countries and international organizations in the North Caucasus” and “more harshly block such efforts and always give an adequate answer” both to such efforts which are intended to undermine Russia’s authorityand to criticism of the human rights situation in that region.
            Such foreign sources must be reminded, Putin said, that they should be looking in their own backyard, one “full” of violations they should be addressing before criticizing Russian policies in the North Caucasus.  He added that Russia “will harshly react to the violation of human rights and freedom in the North Caucasus and hold those guilty responsible.”
            And at the same time, the Russian president said that “the main priority” for Moscow is “to increase the tempos of social and economic development” in the North Caucasus so that the peoples of that long-troubled region will be a proud and flourishing part of the Russian Federation in the future.
            Most of what Putin said today simply sums up themes the Kremlin has been pushing for some time, but his call for a search for “new approaches,” whether he intended this or not, has opened the way for some in the expert community to comment and provide a different perspective on the situation in the North Caucasus.
            One of the first to do so is Irina Pashchenko, a longtime specialist on the region who heads the North Caucasus laboratory for the North Caucasus at the Institute for Social-Economic and Humanitarian Research at the Southern Academic Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (odnako.org/blogs/show_28191/).
            She said that Putin’s suggestion that the situation in the North Caucasus is improving is broadly correct.  “Yes, there are positive trends, and in certain republics they are quite significant.”  She pointed to a marked decline in the number of “criminal-terrorist” actions in Ingushetia.
            At the same time, she said that “today the situation on the territory of Daghestan is very serious and is not improving.”  The same thing can be said about Kabardino-Balkaria, although in that republic there have been some successes. She added that nowhere have the re-adaptation centers for militants worked: the number of people who use them is far too small.
            But Pashchenko made three more important points, apparently in response to Putin’s call for new approaches. First, she said, Russian officials have been convinced that “administrative reforms plus reforms of a social-economic character can change the situation.” The resources for this today “are exhausted” and something new must be identified and applied.
            Second, there are human rights problems and there are collateral innocent victims of the counter-terrorist effort, but she argued they are not as numerous as many think. She said many who are not victims and may not even have been present during attacks claim to be to get attention or to get assistance from the government.
            And third, Pashchenko said, “as far as corruption is concerned,” all reports and research demonstrate that this is not a problem specific to the North Caucasus. This is simply a specific case of what is true” of the Russian Federation as a whole.
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: CIRCASSIANS WERE ORIGINAL POPULATION OF SOCHI, OLYMPIC GUIDEBOOK SAYS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: CIRCASSIANS WERE ORIGINAL POPULATION OF SOCHI, OLYMPIC GUIDEBOOK SAYS

Paul Goble
            Staunton, September 7 – Despite the Russian government’s reluctance to talk about the genocide its tsarist predecessors committed against the Circassians in 1864, a new pamphlet prepared for guides for the Olympiad next year specified that the Circassians are “the indigenous population” of Sochi and that Sochi and many nearby names are Circassian words.
            In his “Olympic Names of Sochi” (in Russian), which has been published in 1500 copies, Igor Sizov, a journalist there, says that everyone should remember that “the majority of geographic names in Sochi have arisen as a result of a mixingof lnguages, customs and cultural traditions of various peoples.”
 
            “The terms ‘Sochi,’ ‘Laura,’ and ‘Fisht,’” for example, were given by “representatives of the Circassian tribes of the Abaza, Ubykhs, and Shapsugs.” The name ‘Adler’ “appeared thanks to a mixing of words from Circassian and Turkish.” “’Kranaya Polyana,’ ‘Veseloye,’ ‘Kazachiy Brod’ are Russian.” And the place name ‘Rosa Khutor’ has “Estonian roots.”
            Sizov told Russian news agencies that a a native of the city, he had grown up with stories about the ethnic diversity of the names of the Sochi region, but in compiling his book, he drew on the works of some of the best onomasticians working there, including Kasim Meretkuov, Vladimir Vorozhilov and Grigory Chuchmay (spb.itar-tass.com/c20/862541.html).
                In the introduction to his pamphlet, Sizov says that representatives of 102 nationalities now livein Sochi but that the Circassians “are considered the indigenous population.” They were followed by the Turks in the 16th century and by Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Ukrainians, Estonians, and Greeks in the 19th.  Most left their mark in the placenames of the region.
            Sizov divides his booklet into two parts. In the first, he provides a detailed discussion of the history of the names of some of the sites most closely connected with the Sochi Olympiad.  In the second, he gives briefer background information on 17 other, less prominent places that visitors may nonetheless encounter and could be expected to ask about.
            The name “Sochi” itself, he says, is unquestionably Circassian and specifically Ubykh, one of that nation’s subgroups. In Ubykh, the word means “the family group which lives near the sea.” Sizov dismisses an alternative explanation that it comes from another Circassian term for the river because the etymology is wrong: that river has no branches as the name would suggest.
            “Krasnaya Polyana” is a purely Russian term, Sizov continues, but it wasn’t given to the place by Russians but rather by Greeks who sought asylum from persecution in the Ottoman Empire and, having acquired some Russian, called their village by the Russian words for beautiful field.
                                        
            The main Olympic stadium in Sochi is called Fisht, a Circassian word that in translation means “White Head” and refers to a snow-capped mountain that the Circassians in medieval times viewed as sacred. Adler of Adler Arena comes from a combination of Ubykh and Turkish, not from German as some think.
            One of the most interesting ethnic backgrounds of a name in the region is that of “Roza Khutor” where several Olympic competitions will take place. It has nothing to do with colors but rather with Estonians: It was named for one of their number who settled there in an oak grove in the 19th century and who was visited by the great Estonian writer Anton Tammsaare.
            And yet another intriguing name is “Laura.” Despite the assumption of many that it is of Russian origin and was the daughter or wife of some Russian commander during the Caucasan wars, in it fact “has Circassian roots” and comes from the name of an Abaza prince who livedin the area.
            Among the 17 brief entries, most are of Circassian origin as well, Sizov says, including Aibga, Akhun, Akh-Tsu, Achipse, Matsesta, Mzymta, Psekhako, Chvizheptse, and Chugush. Others are of Moldovan, Cossack or Russian origin. As for the Black Sea, he adds, that too is Russian but has less to do with color and with its waters being rough.
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