Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Genocide Countdown to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

The Genocide Countdown to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

145 Days to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

Document 145

June 1861 laws on Caucasian deportees returning to our borders.

(1)The return of Caucasian mountaineers and their families who moved to Turkey is prohibited to our Borders in the cases mentioned in items 2, 3 and 4.

(2) If the Caucasian mountaineers who have received tickets for leaves of absence, more or less prolonged releases under the guise of worshiping the coffin of Mahomet, or to travel to Constantinople and other places in Turkey, on arrival at the limits of the Ottoman Empire became subjects of the empire

(3) Mountaineers who extended their passports.

(4) Mountaineers who did not receive passports before heading to Turkey or with the names personally close to their families, but a collective passports for several families or persons.

(5) Mountaineers who before returning to the Caucasus present an overdue passport issued for an individual or with their closest family members and is not convicted of intent to take allegiance to the Ottoman Ports, may return to the Caucasus, but only if they declare that they have sedentary life at home or property. Moreover, our diplomats should precede that, in the case of wrongful testimony, they will not settle in their former places of residence and will be dealt with at the discretion of the Russian government.

(6) Those mountaineers who return from Turkey and the Caucasian Leadership finds it unsuitable for them to go back to their houses in their former residences in the province of Stavropol, will be sent to the Orenburg region, where special places applied for this purpose in accordance with the recommendation of Orenburg separate Corps Commander. On the other hand, other mountaineers that arrive to our borders without permission will be dealt with according to the Caucasian Leadership.

(7) Administration of the Orenburg region occurs in three ways:

a) Sending the mountaineers returning from Turkey via the Black Sea ports, Rostov to go in ships which travel to the Danube and the port board Kalat_evski then go by road from the Anaktap to Tasaretsina and again by sea to Samara on board a ship companies of Volga.

b) Returning deportees are sent by road through the province of Erivan, to Baku and from there sent to Samara on board the ship “Mercury and the Caucasus.”

c) Returning deportees through the border Kutaisi by road to Poti and from there to the point specified in item “a”.

d)If, in extreme cases, met need for migrants send to Orenburg in the late season, when the movement of ships along the Volga and Don stops then guide them overland to Samara individual tiyami, no more than 24 families each, according to the attached
herewith route.

During the following persons in the Orenburg region both water and land are assigned to them before arriving at the place of placement in the province money and feed carts (when following the land) in the amount specified in the following paragraphs.

(8)When the deportees go to the Orenburg region, whether by sea or land, assign them until reaching their places of resettlement in that region amounts of food and transport vehicles (in the case was traveling overland) defined in the following passages.

(9)To give men and women over the age of 14 years, according to the list of daily food for new recruits and ordersو for improved food, 2 kgs per person, as control center of Stavropol War I in 1859, which in money equals, during the last 24 hours In the territory beyond the Kuban 8.5 Kopeck, in the Stavropol province 4 Kopeck, and in Don Forces Ground 4.5 Kopeck, In the province of Ikatirinoslavski 5 Kopeck, In the province of Ostrechan 6.74 Kopeck, in Saratovski 5 Kopeck, and Samarskaya 4.75 Kopeck.
For the children of both sexes aged seven years amounts of unimproved food, according to the list 982. III Part IV control center of war or in 1859, which is half the previous amount. For children aged 7 years to 14 years to take the full amounts of money for food but without improved food as the same list covered 982 of the book, Part III IV Decree of war.

Note:
1) The pay for food for the Mountaineers and their families returning from Turkey via Turkey Asian ports on the Black Sea starts upon arrival at Rostov, and returning by land border, starts upon arrival at the border.
2) According to the amounts of food calculated above, food is handled manually for each family of seven days in advance.

(10)During the orientation of the deportees to land resettlement in the Orenburg region, a narrow carriage is appointed for every 2 families to reach beyond the basic set.

(11)When you send deportees to the Orenburg region in winter the , each family is paid $ 7 rubles 26 Kopeck in order to obtain short-fur coats in case the deportees did not have winter clothing (the price per coat stipulated in the 1272 page section IV Book III of the ordinance free of war. Issued in 1859, is 2 rubles and 42 Quebec), money given to mountaineers are for a particular purpose.

Note:
If the family consist of two or three 4 rubles and 82 Kopeck are given to them.

(12)To accompany each batch of immigrants from points of departure to the places assigned to them by Permanent placement in the Orenburg region, a trustworthy and competent police officer or a noncommissioned officer is designated, of the duty of supervision to put order in the party during the journey, and on-site and promote consequence as appropriate, through local authorities, so that they will continue non-stop. He will also be handed over amounts of money to feed and for other use according to 9 and 10 rules.

(13)Pay to a policeman or officer class facilities for a total of 15 Kopeck daily sums allocated for food over a period accompanies a return depending on the number of days, in addition to the orientation when granting land amounts to the basic horse for a round trip.

(14)In order to prevent the settlers from any major disturbances during the journey, shoots, willful deviation of the route, an armed guard Shall be appointed, depending on need, from 5 to 10 people per party, which accompanies the party from one station to another or from one stage to another, and will be scheduled depending on the way.

(15)For more security at all times, settlers are prohibited from carrying weapons, and are confiscated on the land border or at those points on which the settlers will receive the money from the Treasury fodder. Weapons are allowed to be sold by the mountaineers themselves, or with the assistance of local authorities.

(16)Deportees will be distributed to spend nights and days either in Mobile camps near villages, or villages in the homes and barns of our population where several families stay together, while some people from those villages wearing special uniforms help guards escort and control the actions of deportees for the duration of their stay in that place. The police or officer at the facilities is imperative to spend the night and day, watching over to protect the deportees from any possible harassment by the population during their stay Under the huge responsibility of the latter.

(17)In the event of illness of one of the deportees and to prevent any delay, the sick is to be put in a military clinic or hospital, taking into account:

a) not to keep the patient in the villages, but to take him to the nearest clinic or hospital.
b) If a family member such as the father, mother daughter or son, if young, or a sister, daughter, niece or nephew, his family shall remain with him until he recovers, and to give them the duration of their stay as provided by Article 9 of the amounts of food in addition to 1 rubles and 20 kopeck per month in order to rent a house, by local authorities, if not in the open housing.
c) When the patient is cured he shall travel back with his family, according to specified stages while maintaining the provision of food under item 9, in addition to the right to obtain one horse from the population as a mean of transportation.
d) In the event if the patient died of the family that remained with him, after having the last protocol of the deceased to go immediately to the place specified abiding with the laws of the item (c).
e) Funds are requested for the maintenance of the patient in the clinic or the military hospital, as well as to his family to ensure food and essentials, when moving on from local authorities at the closest government Council.

(18)Upon the arrival of the deportees to Samara, they are handed over immediately to the military leadership of the border communities. And the General Command of the Orenburg region and communications will receive a notification in advance on the groups movement to Samara, conducting the necessary arrangements for those groups going to Samara and setting them with accommodation while maintaining article 5 above. And it is also the responsibility of the General Command of the territory to support in the resettlement of evacuees sites designated, as well as the facilities and compensations and acquisitions the future of the deportees to agricultural land.

(19)All costs of administration of migrants from the Caucasus in the Orenburg region, as well as their placement and in the province are on the national treasury.

Early. Chief of Staff of the Caucasian Army, Lieutenant General K a p p a c.

RGVIA, f. 38, op. 30/286, sec. 869, No. 4, p. 182-187.

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146 Days to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

Document 146

6 June 1861 – The Caucasian Army Commander General of the Ministry of War on the need of mountaineers returning from Turkey to settle “in the more remote areas of the Caucasus

A large part of our emigrants from the northern Caucasus, who went to Turkey at various times and in large numbers, as expected, been deceived and disillusioned with a comfortable life under the care of Turkey, while in the recent period they and persistently searching for an opportunity to return Home. Since they all without exception, traveled to Turkey under the pretext of traveling to Mecca to worship the shrine of Muhammad, and we granted them passports for a long-term leave, it was not possible to obstruct that, at least for those who have not been able in one way or another to demonstrate their intention to enter into actual Turkish dependence,

* Obstructing their return home through legal systems.

Indeed, as I was informed by our envoy and Ottoman Commissioner at the port, our mission in Constantinople had no legal basis for refusing to grant visas to our emigrants whose passports were not extended, and they had the right to request a pass back to their homeland as nationals of the Russian empire. In the same way 50 Nogai families arrived from Turkey to the Caucasus at the present time, and more is expected to arrive soon, but the resettlement of those displaced, who have been deprived of most of their property when they travelled to Turkey, means an increase in voluntary looting in an area where the return of peace needs lot of efforts and sacrifices. So His Excellency the Field Marshall suggested sending those to live in Russia, where they could form communities within Russian population that are not harmful to the whole territory. This issue is of the highest scores to calm the Caucasus; I have the honor to humbly request Your Excellency to the highest state giving assent of the Emperor:

1 – Send the emigrants returning home from the Black Sea, across the Gulf of Kerch, rather than bring them to Taman or other Caucasian Ports, to go directly to the Don Forces land as far as possible from the Caucasus.
2 – Send the migrants through land tobeyond the Caucasian Lands from the Turkish border, from Krasnopoul and other border points to be transferred to Baku and from there by sea to Astrakhan.
Pending resolution of this petition, I informed General Count Evdokimov to resettle the families returning home at the Black Sea in the former Tatar Villages.
One of the reasons for the common aspiration of the mountaineers to return is spreading between them in Turkey, a rumor that the Russian government gives money and medals to all those returning. So I sent a request to Prince Lobanov Rostov to announce through our councils to all of our mountaineers, who will be arriving for reviewing their passports, that they will not be returning to their original locations, and must go into exile in Russia.

RGVIA, f. -38, Op. 30/286, sec. 869, No. 4, p. 22-24,

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147 Days to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

Document 159

“Left by the leadership in Anapa, Panchulidze carried out the special operation on Sujouk-Kala road in order to punish the Natokhawaj. Zolotnitsky had invaded them and destroyed about the 40 villages …”

“The Shabsough were exposed the same fate. Where the Cossack Commander in the 18th of June, accompanied by 5 thousand of the 22nd Cossack Cavalry Regiment pertaining to cross the Kuban River and moved to beyond the Psekups River, and destroyed within five days 18 Shabsough districts”.

(Page 27)

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148 Days to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

Document 184

25 September1862 – From the Headquarters of Kuban Region Forces to the Commander of the District of Natokhayski, General Babich on the deportation of 18 Shabsough families to Turkey at the expense of the Treasury by the ship that belongs to merchant Drebyazgin. The city of Stavropol

Report

The Commander of the Mountainous Section of the Headquarters of Kuban Forces , Captain Bekarski on the presence of 18 Shabsough families willing to emigrate to Turkey in the current year in the Fort of Konsantinoveskoya.
Based on that, I solicit from your Excellency to send these families to Taman, where they will be transferred by a special order on board a ship brought for this purpose, the merchant Yoghor Drebyazgin to one of the ports of the Turkish Empire, which the mentioned inhabitants want to reach, with the paying of their transporting expense by the Treasury, as well as to bring a detailed list of these families to the Headquarters of Kuban Forces in order to calculate the amount required for transportation.
Lieutenant Sholkovsky

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149 Days to the Circassian Genocide 150th year Commemoration

Document 149

June 17, 1861 – Report of Kabardians Chief District to the Chief of the Terek region, on forbidding Kabardians returning from Turkey from living in areas of the province. If the Kabardians think –by looking at other examples of mountaineers who moved to Turkey-, to return to homeland, and moreover, in large numbers ,then the implementation of the planned procedure in Kabarda will be extremely difficult , because according to my knowledge, the children of Turkish Kabardians would rather hold weapons in their hands and form an open resistance than to an unconditional surrender and voluntary departure to Russia, which they see as a high degree of punishment.
It is therefore necessary that Kabardians returning from Turkey do not reach home and are arrested when trying to enter our borders. And it was a good act to send me a list of deportees to be able to determine which of them can be settled in their places of prior residence and who must be exiled inside Russia.
Central State Archive of the GRA, p. 12, Op, 5, 20, p. 46-47.

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150 Days to the Circassian Genocide 150th Year Commemoration

Document 293

1st of June, 1864 – An article in the English, the Times Newspaper, on the large number of deaths among the deported Mountaineers in Turkey, and (the means that the Russian Government followed to subjugate the Caucasus):

The Times Newspaper reported:

Documents submitted to the British House of Commons, concerning the deportation of Circassians, the tragic circulated rumors among the public, on this issue, but the matter that lacks precision is the numbers of migrants; and estimates of the Foreign Ministry’s Correspondents, between 300 thousand and 800 thousand, and the Russian government announced in mid-May about 100 thousand, and Lord Napier stressed, after meeting Prince *(Gorchakov), that the number of deported Caucasians in Turkey reaches to 150 thousand people.

The formal details of this case, are more of sorrow of those that come to us through the rumors, the mortality numbers have worsened terribly in Trabzon, and our Consul writes that serious panic has effected the city, and everyone is rushing to leave the city, one of three doctors in the city, became victim of typhus, the other doctor, most of his time is dedicated to work in the quarantine, and does not have the capacity to assist the population. As a result of these circumstances, from first of December to mid of February 3500 people, had perished, including 3000 of the immigrants and 471 of Turks.

At the time, Circassians arriving to Trabzon were no more than 25 thousand, and the consul in his report dated May, 19, that immigrants are still arriving, and the mortality rate in the city between 120 to 150 people a day. The case in Samson is similar to the case of Trabzon, there were 40 thousand people who came to the city, the disease claimed five hundred of them in two days, then scared bakers closed down, the city has suffered for several days of scarcity of bread, which almost lead to the rebellion, all of this happened before the onset of heat; what can be expected to happen later on! We can not hold the Ottoman Government alone, responsible for this tragic situation, which has not carry out the necessary arrangements to receive the deportees, but also the behavior of those, makes it easy to spread the infection. And their political map doesn’t not convey optimism of their relationships, when they were in the Caucasus, which there was no political relations between the tribes of the north and the other tribes, and they are unable to forget the tribal disputes, not to mention the solidarity of the public for their common interest, and those who remained on the rebellion, they hope that an imminent war between the Europeans and Russia would erupt.

Sir Henry Belfor had presented to Her Majesty the **(Queen) Empress of Britain, a letter that was sent to her, this poor people that begins counting the cruel methods (?), that the Russian government had followed over the last eight years, for the intention to subdue the Caucasus (their homeland since the beginning of time). And how consistently, they fought for their independence, sacrificing their lives and whatever they own.

Since the beginning of deportation, the Russians tried to mitigate its horrors, the Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich had secured Immigrants, with government and commercial ships in the Black Sea, and opened the Caucasus coast for ships of all nationalities, but when examining the reasons for migration, the available documents should compel us to a true blame (?), due to the excessive cruelty. Here is what Lord Napier writes, from Saint Petersburg on date 23, May: “It seems evident to observers, that the Russian government decided long ago, to expel some of the tribes from the Caucasus, at any price, therefore, it has over the two years conducting the following manner: It will push the line of Cossacks’ forts and settlements towards the mountains, then will expel the free Caucasian population towards the coast, and the expulsion of the rebel tribes is a usual policy of Russia. ”

Persians and Babylonians as well, had done that in the past. However, and in fact, Russia had given the Circassians the Choice between being deported to Turkey, or the resettlement on the Kuban.

Also, the Emperor personally presented the offer to them last year. Some have preferred the second option, and they are now living quietly on the Kuban.

It is not surprising that most of them choose to live under the rule of the Mohammedan state, which has always supported the people of her faith in their struggle against Russia. Deportation to the Kuban will bring in fact, submission to the laws of Russia, not to mention the military service.

The British Consul in Sokhumi*** (Kala), G. Dixon, wrote that the physical suffering of the deportees, will be tougher with their homesickness. And provides a reality of the harshness of the Russians, and he doesn’t think that it is exceptional, (?) they did not see the special (?), a village had surrendered to the Russians, and those (the Russians) killed one hundred of the population, including children and women.

** Queen Victoria of Great Britain 1819-1901.
*** Sokhum (Kala), Modern Sokhumi.

St. Petersburg Gazette, 1864. June 1. Number 124.

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Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown – 6 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown – 6 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

Note:  This is my 44th 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
Khodorkovsky’s Release Doesn’t Stop ‘Soft Boycott’ of Sochi Games.  Despite the expectations of some, Vladimir Putin’s release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is so obviously a cynical PR move that it will do little or nothing to prevent the “soft boycott” of the games by senior officials rather than atheletes. This week, the prime ministers of Germany, Japan and Israel indicated they would not attend, adding their names to the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, France and Canada who said last week they wouldn’t be going.  The leaders of Norway, Switzerland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, however, said they would be going (http://ewnc.org/node/13217,  haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.565013,
Russian Officials Cut Estimate of Leaders coming to Sochi from 40-50 to 20-30. In an indication that efforts, which continue, to convince world leaders not to give Vladimir Putin and his anti-LGBT policies a victory, are working, Russian officials have reduced their predictions about the numbers of such leaders who will attend by almost 50 percent.  But the Russian Olympic Committee says, in trying to put the best face on things, says that “the chief point is the competition and not that 0 or 30 leaders come to the opening ceremony.”  Other Moscow commentators denounced those who are not coming and those urging them not to for engaging in what they called “the old games of the Cold War” (edition.cnn.com/2013/12/24/sport/sochi-2014-zhukov-obama-hollande/,  topwar.ru/37625-starye-igrushki-holodnoy-voyny-boykot-olimpiady.html and  change.org/petitions/eu-leaders-do-not-go-to-sochi-olympicshames).
Khodorkovsky on Release Opposes Boycott But Also Opposes Making Sochi a ‘Party for Putin.’  On his release from prison, former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he opposes a boycott of the Sochi Games. He said the games are “a celebration of sport, something which millions of people will celebrate.” But he added that “obviously, [Soch] should not become a great party for President Putin” (kttc.com/story/24282394/khodorkovsky-dont-boycott-2014-sochi-olympics).
Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova on Release Calls for Sochi Boycott.  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a Pussy Riot member released as part of the recent amnesty, said that “the border between being free and not free is very thin in Russia,” which under Putin is “a totalitarian state.”  She said her release and that of others were simply “another show ahead of the Olympics” intended “to prevent all European countries from boycotting our Russian Olympics, but she said she favored a boycott and hoped Europe would follow that course (ntd.tv/en/news/world/europe/20131223/84077-freed-pussy-riot39s-tolokonnikova-calls-for-boycott-of-sochi-olympics.html).
No Amnesty for Sochi Journalist. The recent Russian amnesty did not extend to Nikolay Yarst, a journalist who faces charges for his attempts to cover corruption in Sochi (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235551/).
Vistishko Becomes Olympiad’s Political Prisoner … Yevgeny Vitishko, an environmental activist, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for his efforts to bring to the attention of the world the ecological devastation being visited on Sochi by Olympic construction and especially the ways in which senior officials including the governor and Russian president have flouted the laws in doing so (ewnc.org/node/13190 andprivetsochi.ru/blog/politics_sochi/39481.html ).
… Environmentalists in Russia and Internationally Condemn the Sentence, Organize Protests.  Ecological Watch in the North Caucasus launched a picket at the court where Vitishko was sentenced. Russian ecologists in other cities organized protests and Internet appeals.  And ecological groups like Ecological Defense, the World Wildlife Fund, Bellona, Freedom House, and Greenpeace Russia all issued statements denouncing the sentence Vitishko had been given and calling on their followers to pressure the Russian government to reverse it   (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235741/,
Russian Officials Rounding Up Those on ‘List’ of Undesirables in Advance of Sochi. Russian officials appear to be working from a list of individual activists and groups that they believe could disrupt the Sochi Olympics and have launched a broadscale effort to arrest, monitor or at least intimidate those involved with human, ethnic, and environmental rights. Those targeted say that the new list is very much like the one the KGB used in advance of the 1980 Moscow Olympiad (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235560/,  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235358/and sobkorr.ru/news/52B926468A91A.html).
United Russia Duma Deputy Calls for Review Anti-Gay Propaganda Law.  Mariya Maksakova, a prominent opera singer and United Russia Duma deputy, calls on her colleagues to revisit the anti-gay propaganda law that has sparked anger internationally, prompted boycotts by officials, and threatens to spark protests at the Sochi Olympiad.  Her unexpected proposal was immediately attacked by supporters of the legislation, but if it goes anywhere, it could lead some foreign leaders to reconsider their current decisions not  to attend the Olympics (tguy.ru/news/29/1096.html ).
‘Who Will Be the Jesse Owens of the Sochi Games?’  A column widely reprinted in American newspapers asks “Who will be the Jesse Owens of the Sochi Winter Olympics? Who will be the brave athlete who shines in rebuttle to Russia’s crackdown on anything determined to be ‘gay propaganda?’” The column continues “For Owens, the nemesis was Hitler’s ideology of racial superiority that placed Nordic ‘Aryans’ at the pinnacle of humanity.Keep that context in mind for how hate unchallenged can escalate.   So far, much of the pushback from the international community has been tepid, diplomatically framed. The International Olympic Committee recently raised the stakes, issuing their rules for athletes, reiterating the apolitical tenure of the games. ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted,’ the rule said. It should be noted that Hitler also targeted gays. It’s a sad reminder that for some people, the bull’s-eye hasn’t shifted” (dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20131222-shades-of-1936-olympics-as-sochi-games-approach.ece).
Olympiad in Sochi was Not an Original Putin Idea.  Russian President Vladimir Putin is usually credited with coming up with the idea of hosting a winter Olympiad in the subtropical city of Sochi. In fact, as an article unearthed from “Argumenty i fakty” at the end of Soviet times shows, the Soviet Olympic Committee was pushing the idea and wanted to host an Olympiad in that southern city in 1998 (blogsochi.ru/content/budet-li-sochi-stolitsei-olimpiady).
Russian-Swedish Hockey Match Shows Sochi Not Ready to Handle Fans. Ticketholders were not able to get into the Sochi facility for a hockey match because officials had not organized security checks in an efficient way. Lines were long and some people gave up.  One Russian sports writer said that if Sochi organizeres can’t handle a single event when there are no senior officials about, it will find it extremely difficult to handle multiple events with large numbers of VIPS. The result he said could be disastrous (championat.com/hockey/article-184525-chto-zhdjot-v-sochi-zhurnalistov-i-bolelshhikov.html). There have been similar problems at a figure skating event (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235778/) as well as at the ski slopes and visitor centers (nytimes.com/2013/12/22/travel/a-test-run-at-russias-olympic-hopeful.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&  and blogsochi.ru/content/chempionat-strogogo-rezhima).
Swiss Visitors Say ‘Nothing is Ready’ for Olympiad.  The buildings are up but they are not fitted out with the necessary infrastructure inside, according to a group of visitors from Switzerland. Consequently, everything looks nice but won’t work. Many of the fittings yet to be installed are produced in Europe rather than in Russia and that too has occasioned delays in finishing the facilities (blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiada-glazami-inostrantsev). Many Russian visitors have made the same observation (opentown.org/news/25672/).
Krasnodar Reinforces Putin’s Ban on Holidays for Olympic Workers.  Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev echoed President Vladimir Putin’s directive that those involved with preparation of the Olympic Games will not be allowed to take their traditional new year’s holiday on time but only after the Games are over in February. The reason: many venues and support facilities are not yet finished despite Russian claims and promises that they would be (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235785/).
Fisht Stadium Not Ready.  Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says that “overall, the level of preparation is very high. All the infrastructure is ready.” But he made no reference to three critical things: he did not mention the Fisht Stadium where the major ceremonies are to be held. It is still not ready and Olympic organizers are practicing holding the opening and closing ceremonies elsewhere in case it isn’t ready in time. He didn’t talk about the grounds around the venues or the sidewalks and streets leading to them, many of which are still torn up.  And he didn’t address the inefficient security screening arrangements now in place that are leading to massive delays (blogsochi.ru/content/stroika-veka-za-40-dnei-do-igrkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235654/, and   en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20131223/185866800/Sochi-Mostly-Ready-for-Olympics-But-Some-Issues-Remain.html ).
Mutko Says He’ll Resign if Russian Team Doesn’t Do Well Because of His Work. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says he will resign if Russia’s Olympians don’t do well in Sochi as a result of things over which he had control such as their preparation. According to Mutko who has been criticized for his approach and was recently excluded by the Kremlin from involvement in preparation for the 2018 World  Cup, “the most important thing in sports is to define what is to be understood by failure” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235780/).
Sochi Airport Customs Gears Up to Handle 3,000 Visitors an Hour.  In advance of the Olympiad, customs officials are adding additional lanes and officers so that they will be able to meet their goal of processing 3,000 arriving visitors each hour during the games (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235743/).
Moscow Analysts Point to Growing Security Threats.  Analysts at the Center for Political Information have prepared a report which sketches out what they see as growing security threats to the Sochi Games because of their location near unsettled parts of the North Caucasus, the threats some Islamist leaders have made to disrupt the games, the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan which will allow radicals to leave there and come to the Caucasus, and choke points in the infrastructure of Sochi, particularly in transportation, which terrorists could exploit (izvestia.ru/news/563135).
Security Measures at Sochi Taken So Far ‘Insufficient,’ Ustinov Says. Despite massive and intrusive security measures in and around the site of the games, Vladimir Ustinov, presidential plenipotentiary for the Southern Federal District, says they are inadequate and need to be beefed up further  His words suggest according to Natpress.ru, that the Russian authorities plan more round ups of Circassian and other ethnic activists as well as  a general crackdown on Muslim groups in the North Caucasus, actions that could provoke violence instead of calming the situation (natpress.ru/index.php?newsid=8618).
Stratfor Suggests Terrorists Will Strike Elsewhere to Draw Off Guards at Sochi and then Attack the Games.  Stratfor analysts say that they believe terrorists will attack elsewhere in the Russian Federation just before the games, forcing Moscow to redeploy its security units away from the Olympiad and then will attack the Games themselves (wnd.com/2013/12/russia-braces-for-olympic-terror/).
US Company Provides Security Equipment for Sochi.  Implant Sciences Corporation is providing eight QS-H150 handheld explosives trace detectors for the Sochi Media Center (online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20131223-902587.html?mod=googlenews_wsj).
Avalanches, Snow Cyclones and Fog Could Threaten Games.  Despite continuing concerns that there may not be enough snow for the Olympiad, official are now worrying about two other weather-related possibilities: there may be too much snow in the higher elevations leading to avalanches and there may be snow cyclones and fog that could force delays because of poor visibility.  Russian organizers have set up cannons to start controlled avalanches but there is little they can do about either snow  cyclones or fog (en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20131225/185894810/Snow-Cyclones-Could-Threaten-Sochi-Olympics–Forecaster.html  and reuters.com/article/2013/12/24/olympics-sochi-weather-idUSL3N0K31WG20131224).
LGBT Activists Challenge Coca-Cola on Sochi Sponsorship.  LGBT activists gate crashed a Coca-Cola Christmas meeting to demand that the company explain why it is comfortable sponsoring the Sochi Olympics given Russia’s anti-gay laws.  One of the participants said that “By sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics, Coca-Cola is rewarding the Putin regime; giving it legitimacy and credibility… It is shocking that Coca Cola has not been willing to make any statement of support for LGBT equality or for other human rights in Russia.” The company responded that it has always supported gay rights and believes that such rights can best be advanced through participation (edgeboston.com/news/international/News/153464/gay_activists_protest_coca-cola%E2%80%99s_involvement_in_sochi_olympics).
To Limit Scalping, Officials Introduce ‘Fan2Fan’ System for Selling Tickets. Concerned about both massive scalping and the crime that can involve and security issues if tickets sold to one fan are transferred to another, Russian officials have introduced the “Fan2Fan” system in which buyers and sellers can meet online to buy and sell tickets in such a way that the authorities will have some record of it (http://vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/21945-pereprodavat-olimpijskie-bilety-razreshaetsja and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235673/).
Activists Questioned along Torch Route. Activists in Cheboksary were called in by the special services and asked to detail their activities and plans before, during and after the passage of the Sochi Olympic torch through their city. The activists pointed out that the questions they had been asked were “absolutely illegal” and only designed to intimidate (irekle.org/news/i1585.html ).
Torch Travails Continue. No one died and no one was burned by the Olympic torch this week, but another problem arose: Those chosen to carry the torch and who are allowed to purchase it for 12,800 rubles (420 US dollars) have found a way around a government ban on selling the torch for more: They simply include a few other items of clothing with it and then charge as much as 100,000 rubles (3300 US dollars) that collectors seem willing to pay. No one has yet been prosecuted for violating this government order, but the high prices have drawn fire from some activists who have suggested that the torch is not uniting Russia as Putin claims but highlighting its division into rich and poor ((vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/21932-skidki-neumestny-olimpijskij-fakel-nedeshevyj-hodovoj-tovar).
Sochi Mayor Reduces Post-Olympic Budget But His Staff Not So Much. Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov projects that the city’s income will fall 40 percent and its spending 56 percent in the year after Sochi and his new budget reflects those declines.  But he has cut the size of his staff far less and even proposes to add an 11th deputy mayor position (blogsochi.ru/content/postolimpiiskii-byudzhet-goroda-sochi).
Abkhaz Opposition Calls for Time Out during Sochi Games.  The Coordination Council of opposition parties and groups in Abkhazia says it will suspend its campaign against government policies during the Olympics in order to ensure that nothing it does might be exploited by those opposed to the Games (caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=21225).
Krasnodar Court Again Takes Up Case of Militiaman Accused of Sochi Bombings.  A Krasnodar court resumed its examination of the case of Ilya Galkin, a former militiaman who was charged with carrying out two bombings in 2008 and 2009 but whose case has been delayed because of psychiatric examinations (interfax-russia.ru/South/news.asp?id=461779&sec=1671).
Sochi Court Hears Case of Policeman Accused of Beating an Olympic Worker.  The Adler district court has begun hearing the case of Sergey Kuznetsov, a Sochi policeman who has been accused of beating Olympic construction worker Pavel Solovyev in April 2013 but who has denied all responsibity (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235689/).
Moscow Gives Sochi Olympic Organizers Another 50 Million US Dollars. The Russian cabinet approved the authorization of an additional 50 million US dollars to the Sochi Olympic organizing committee. The government did not specify the reason it had done so, thus raising the possibility that the new funds are to be used to complete work on projects not yet finished (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235721/).
Security has Turned Sochi Rail Stations into ‘Concentration Camps,’ Resident Says.A Sochi resident who has been urged by city officials to travel by train rather than car says that as a result of new security measures which include barbed wire and more police, “the stations have become like concentration camps.” The only thing missing, he suggests, are guards with submachine guns speaking German (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/39660.html).
Sochi Authorities Haven’t Yet Built Long-Promised Pound for Homeless Animals.Despite repeated promises, the Sochi city authorities have not built a pound for homeless animals but continue to euthanize them almost immediately after they are caught, an animal rights activist there says (privetsochi.ru/blog/helpanimals/39656.html).
Sochi is Barrier-Free for Handicapped Only if They Can Fly, One of Their Number Says.  A physically handicapped resident says that Olympic construction is not “barrier-free” as the IOC requires and as Moscow has promised.  When he asked how he could surmount one barrier recently, passers-by said “If you like, fly!” (privetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/39653.html).  At the same time, some observers have suggested that the commitment to a barrier-free environment, even if it has not been completely fulfilled, has been important and represents “enormous progress for the Russian mentality” (novayagazeta.ru/society/61598.html ).
Sochi Mayor has His Own ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment.  Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov who has offended many residents by his sometimes cavalier remarks has now reached the level of Marie Antoinette’s famous suggestion. He said that “if residents don’t have a garage, they need not buy a car” and should instead walk and take public transportation (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%86-%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B0-%D1%81-%D0%BC%D1%8D%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BC-%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B8/).

Medvedev’s Proposal for ‘Open Skies’ to Sochi Opposed by Russian Officials and Carriers.  Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for opening the skies of Sochi to foreign carriers in order to boost tourism there, but his idea has met resistance both from Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov who said doing that is “always a blow to industry” and from Russian carriers whose officials say that it would cost them.  Moreover, “Kommersant” reports, even if there were an open skies arrangement for Sochi, the experience of other Olympic cities has been that tourism does not stay high or increase after the games (kommersant.ru/doc/2371793). In addition, more experts are weighing in against proposals to set up a gambling center in the city to boost the number of visitors (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235556/).

Sochi City Government Covers Artificial New Year’s Tree with Pictures of Real Thing.  In an action that bloggers have characterized as “the height of idiocy,” Sochi officials have erected an artificial tree and then covered it with pictures of real trees and flowers (blogsochi.ru/content/verkh-idiotizma-ot-sochinskikh-chinovnikov).
Moscow Opposes Abdulatipov’s Call to Make Sochi a Celebration of the Caucasus. Daghestan President Ramazan Abdulatipov says that the Sochi Olympiad should become an advertisement for the Caucasus, but Russian commentators say that is not a good idea. Mikhail Aleksandrov, a Caucasus specialist at the Moscow Institute for the CIS Countries, says this is inappropriate because eventhough geographically Sochi is part of the Caucasus, “the Caucasus did not make any contributionto the construction of Olympic facilities.”  Yana Amelina, a Caucasus expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, added that Abdulatipov’s proposal “does not reflect reality … The Olympiad inSochi is a sport holiday and not a holiday of the Caucasus … To artificially link a sports holiday to this or that geographic location is not completely wise” (bigcaucasus.com/events/actual/19-12-2013/88465-sochi-0/).

Rights Groups Denounce Detentions of Circassian Activists. Circassian organizations in the North Caucasus, the Middle East, Europe and the United States along with groups like Human Rights Watch denounced the Russian authorities for their heavy-handed and unjustified round up of Circassian activists supposedly working to disrupt the Sochi Games (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235608/,facebook.com/groups/123063457

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kanun_olimpiady_v_sochi/2013-12-24-354).

Putin’s Treatment of Circassians at Sochi Bellwether of Future Russian Policy, Pakistani Ambassador Says.  Akbar Ahmed, a Pakistani ambassador who earlier served as Islamabad’s high commissioner in London, says that “how Putin treats the Circassians and the issue of Sochi [where the genocide occurred] will indicate which direction Russia will take” in the future. He described the 1864 events in which 1.5 million Circassians were killed and roughly the same number expelled, half of whom died in the process as “the first modern genocide” (aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/2012446515233997.html).
Circassian Issue Still Problem for Russian-Georgian Relations.  Georgia’s support for the  Circassians contributes to tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi even though the new Georgian government is much less outspoken about the issue than was its predecessor. Circassian organizations continue to operate in Tbilisi, and Moscow finds that an unacceptable irritant (vestnikkavkaza.net/articles/politics/49002.html).
Circassian Leaders Say Arrests Did Not Prompt Calls for Congress.  Plans for a Circassian congress to consider the next steps for the movement in the North Caucasus had been in the works even before Russian officials detained more than ten activists and sought to portray them as potential terrorists (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235428/).
Adygey Designer to Offer Circassian Fashions in Sochi.  Susanna Makerova from Adygeya says she plans to offer Circassian fashions at a shop in Sochi as an understate way to call attention to the Circassian cause.  National components of dress “shouldn’t shout,” she says. Instead,they should attract attention in a quiet way (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235657/).
Circassians Start Genocide Countdown Clock.  Radio Adiga and Justice for the North Caucasus have started a countdown clock 150 days ahead of the May 21st sesquicentennial of the genocide of the Circassians by Russian forces at Sochi. The clock will thus run through and then beyond the Sochi Olympiad and thus underscore that the issue is not going away even when the last Olympic torch is extinguished (facebook.com/Countdown150Days).
BBC Documentary Says Sochi Games ‘Most Corrupt’ Ever.  A BBC documentary entitled “The Putin Project” says that the lead up to the Sochi Games has been the most corrupt ever in the history of the modern Olympic movement and that the games have led to massive disruptions in the lives of the people of that city and region (thetakeaway.org/story/sochi-2014-putin-and-corruption-behind-games/).
Sochi New Year’s Tourism Down 15 Percent from Last Year.  Tour operators say that 15 percent fewer people are travelling to Krasnodar kray resorts like Sochi this year than last, a reflection of the fact that Russians given the weakened economy are being more careful in their spending (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235591/).
Unintentionally Offensive Signs and Decorations Offend Sochi Residents.  Some Sochi residents are upset that the central post office now bears the letters “SS,” and others are concerned that street lights showing a candle and two ball-shaped ornaments are at least suggestive and possibly pornographic  (sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/v-sochi-poyavilas-pochta-ss.20131220.72075.html  and vk.com/club984107?z=photo-984107_319867155%2Fwall-984107_31258).
Blind Visitors Face ‘Jungle’ in Sochi, All-Russian Society of the Blind Says. Russian officials have not met their promises to make Sochi accessible to the blind, according to the All-Russian Society of the Blind.  Only 600 of the 3,000 sites that Russian Olympic Committee officials promised to make accessible to the handicapped are in fact so, the Society says. And it adds that Sochi officials have not even bothered to put up the relief signs in many places where it would have been easy to do so. As a result, the blind and other handicapped people who visit Sochi will find themselves “in a jungle” if they try to move about (svpressa.ru/society/article/79374/).
Hell of Sochi is ‘Quintessence of Putin Regime,’ Blogger Says. The Olympics in Sochi is “a unique quintessence of the Putin regime: a city, where life has become hell and local residents have been driven from their hoes, where billions have been stolen or misspent on foolish projects, where the paranoia of the security services [is widespread], where crowds of migrant workers arenot paid for their work, where bureaucratic ideiotism rules … [and] ere bureaucratic idiotism rules,” according to a Russian blogger (belyaev.livejournal.com/130779.html ).
Putin’s Amnesty ‘Rhymes’ with Hitler’s Olympiad, ‘Guardian’ Says. In a commentary in Britain’s “Guardian” newspaper, John Williams says that Vladimir Putin’s recent amnesty recalls Hitler’s efforts to put the best possible face on his regime in advance of the 1936 Olympics. “Regimes that have been less than good, reasonable, judicious, tempered, sober, sensible, reliable, fair and responsive towards their own people, will always feel the need to clean themselves up for party guests. The question remains, what will the country look like after the guests leave? What will the Russian Federation look like after Sochi?” he asks. “Putin’s shown himself to be a bully, and for bullies everyone is the ‘other.’ For bullies even one’s own is the ‘other,’ and the ‘other’ is never safe. The ‘other’ is always vulnerable …  Maybe next time the Olympic Committee should give the Summer Olympics to North Korea. Word is they have a hell of a basketball team and one wild American coach. Maybe they’d clean up nice before they light the Olympic fire. And maybe somebody other than the sponsors would benefit, if only for the cleaning” (guardianlv.com/2013/12/putin-amnesty-and-sochi/).
Sochi’s Cost So Large a New Number is Needed, Cartoon Suggests. The Olympic rings should be inserted between the commas in a number to show the true cost of the Sochi Games, a Russian cartoon suggests (casta.ru/uploads/posts/2013-12/1387661785_large.jpeg).
Putin’s Anti-Gay Policy ‘Grave Miscalculation,’ Freedom House’s Puddington Says.Arch Puddington, vice president of Freedom House, says that he is surprised that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not recognize that by supporting anti-LGBT attitudes in Russia, Moscow would guarantee the opposition of the world’s gay and human rights communities.  It was “a grave miscalculation” (svoboda.org/content/article/25207977.html). Indeed, a commentary in London’s “Telegraph” suggests that Putin’s campaign has unintentionally made Russia’s attitude toward homosexuality “the unlikely focus of the Sochi Games,” thus undermining the Olympics as “a showcase for post-Soviet Russia” (telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/winter-olympics/10531260/Battle-against-homophobia-reaching-a-decisive-time-ahead-of-Sochi-2014.html).
Orthodox Hierarch Says Sochi Will Strengthen Russia’s Moral Fiber.  Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk, says that the Sochi Olympiad is “an effective instrument of strengthening the moral fiber of the nation and of developing in it patriotism and high spiritual ideals” (kavpolit.com/problema-russkix-v-sebe/).
Sochi City Brings Suit Against Mostovik for Non-Performance.  The Sochi authoriites have filed a suit against Mostovik for what they say is the firm’s failure to do the Olympic infrastructure projects it had contracted to do.  In its largest action yet, the city seeks a billion rubles (30 million US dollars) in compensation.  The company disputes the charges and says that it has completed all the work that the Olympiad requires (sobkorr.ru/news/52B414A84E810.html  and blogsochi.ru/content/administratsiya-sochi-trebuet-1-milliard-s-npo-%C2%ABmostovik%C2%BB).
US Court Finds Russian Hockey Player Not Guilty of Assault. A court in Denver found Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche not guilty ofassaulting his former girlfiriend. The verdict opens the way for him to compete at Sochi (vesti.ru/doc.html?id=1169799).
Olympic Village Apartments to Sell for Five Thousand US Dollars per Square Meter. The firm handling the sale of Olympic Village apartments says that it will charge 150,000 rubles (5,000 US dollars) per square meter for the residences for a total sale of 24.2 billion rubles (800 million US dollars) if all are sold (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235447/).
Don’t Come to Sochi’ — Internet Appeal toAthletes and Fans. An appeal is circulating online calling on athletes and fans not to come to the Sochi Olympiad because it is being held on the site of the genocide of the Circassian people and because its contruction has caused so much suffering for so many more recently (blogsochi.ru/content/%22my-prizyvaem-vas-otkazatsya-ot-uchastiya-v-etikh-igrakh%22 ).
The ‘Drunken’ Sidewalks of Sochi.  The sidewalks Olympic contractors have installed are so irregular and out of level that people who walk on them often look as if they have had too much to drink but in fact they are only trying to keep their balance. Residents are calling these paths “drunken” for that reason. But the sidewalks are not only uneven, in many places they are broken or do not extend to all the places people need to go as anyone who has ever tried to walk in the city knows (privetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/39482.html andprivetsochi.ru
No Power, No Water, No Heat But Sewage Smells and Plenty of Trash – Current Fate of Sochi Residents.  Sochi residents in many cases are being forced to do without power, water, or heat in their homes even as they contend with mounting piles of trash around them left by Olympic contractors who seem in no hurry to move them away.  Adding insult to injury, Sochi city bureaucrats have told the residents that they have to sweep the streets in front of their buildings and keep their yards clean for visitors or face serious fines.  Some Sochi residents are much worse off than others: 47 live in a building that has not had indoor plumbing or heating for decades,  and others are having to put up with sewage smells because sewer lines have been broken or improperly connected. But all are angered by traffic jams and by rapidly rising prices as businessmen try to boost prices in advance of the price freeze Moscow has announced for the start of the games (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/39626.htmlsochinskie-novosti.com/%D1%82%D1%80%D1%83%D1%89%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%8B-%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%B8/blogsochi.ru/content/v-gorode-sochi-opyat-temnye-nochi,  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235534/svpressa.ru/society/article/79492/,
Sochi Residents Organizing to Defend Their Interests.  Various Sochi groups are organizing both because of official neglect of their problem now and because recently they have learned that many of the problems they aren’t supposed to be having will not be corrected after the Games. Indeed, they say, once the spotlight is turned away, they can expect little help from anyone except themselves . Some of the new organizations are outgrowths of publically supported groups intended to carry out tasks that the city wants done (blogsochi.ru/content/sochintsy-samoorganizuyutsya).
Kemerovo  Pizza Shop Latest Victim of Olympic Brand Protection Efforts.  A pizza parlour that displayed five pizzas arranged like the Olympic rings has been charged with infringement of the Olympic brand and will be fined if convicted at the end of December (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/21857-predlozhil-lolimpijskujur-piccu–poluchil-denezhnyj-shtraf).
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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 7 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 7 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 43rd 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
US, French, and German Presidents Head List of Leaders Not Going to Sochi.  The presidents of the United States, France, and Germany head the increasingly large list of foreign leaders who say they will not be attending the Sochi Games.  Among others on that list are the presidents of Poland, Estonia, and Lithuania and the prime ministers of several other European countries. Latvia’s president is an exception in the region: he has said he will attend. Most of those not going have cited scheduling problems rather than objections to specific policies. But some like the Lithuanian president have been sharply critical of Russian policies on a variety of human rights and security issues. Most are sending more junior officials in their place. Many media outlets in the countries have suggested that whatever the officials say, not going is in effect a boycott and is connected with Russia’s anti-LGBT law and other policies. That view is shared by almost all Russian commentators. Russian officials say they expect “about 40” world leaders to attend, but they have not offered a list (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235171/,bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25392175ru.journal-neo.org/2013/12/15/rus-vozmozhny-e-ugrozy-sochinskoj-olimpiady/business-standard.com/article/news-ians/forty-world-leaders-to-attend-sochi-winter-olympics-113121400267_1.htmlura.ru/content/sluhi/13-12-2013/articles/1036260941.htmleuropeonline-magazine.eu/litauens-praesidentin-grybauskaite-verzichtet-auf-sotschi-reise_310151.htmlvz.ru/politics/2013/12/18/664245.html,thelocal.de/20131217/olympian-urges-merkel-not-to-snub-sochi-games,freecircassia.ucoz.com/news/kto_sledujushhij/2013-12-17-353 and kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/12/15/18672.shtml).
US President Names Two Prominent Gay Americans to Sochi Delegation. In response to appeals from LGBT rights groups and reflecting what his press secretary said was a commitment to demonstrate the diversity of the American people, President Barack Obama named two prominent gay Americans, former tennis champion Billie Jean King and former Olympian Caitlin Cahow, to the American delegation that will be in Sochi.  American and Russian gay rights groups welcomed Obama’s decision, saying that it sends a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the need to respect all people regardless of sexual orientation (themoscowtimes.com/sochi2014/U-S-Puts-2-Gay-Athletes-on-Official-Sochi-Delegation.htmllgbtqnation.com/2013/12/obama-selects-gay-athletes-for-sochi-olympics-delegation/#.UrDkAXov8Os.facebooknr2.ru/sports/476557.html,pinknews.co.uk/2013/12/14/human-rights-group-urges-obama-to-include-lgbt-people-in-us-sochi-delegation/and novayagazeta-ug.ru/news/u630/2013/12/18/29945).
Circassians Thank German President for Deciding Not to Go to Sochi. Leaders of the Circassian community in the diaspora have sent an open letter to the German president thanking him for taking the lead in announcing that he will not attend the Sochi Olympiad and thus prompting more debate about that event and its historical meaning (natpress.ru/index.php?newsid=8600).
Moscow Patriarchate Condemns Foreign Leaders Not Coming to Sochi Because of Anti-LGBT Law.  Metropolitan Ilarion, head of the synod’s external relations department, said that those foreign leaders who are staying away from the Sochi Olympiad should be focusing on real problems in their own countries or among Christians in the Middle East than engaging in criticism of Russia. Many Europeans are now infected with “satanic” ideas, he continued, and Russia is absolutely right to defend its own and Christian values (interfax-religion.ru/?act=dujour&div=158).
Putin’s Pardon of Khodorkovsky ‘All about Sochi,’ Piontkovsky Says.  Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announced plan to extend a pardon to Russia’s most prominent political prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsy, is “all about Sochi” and is intended to make Putin and Russia look good in the eyes of the international community, according to Andrey Piontkovsky, an independent Russian analyst and Kremlin critic. Initial media reaction suggests that Piontkovsky is right but that Putin’s calculus is so obvious that he and Moscow are getting less credit for taking this long overdue step than would otherwise have been the case (csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2013/1219/It-s-All-About-Sochi-Putin-to-pardon-jailed-Russian-oil-tycoon  and forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2013/12/19/putin-clears-the-decks-for-sochi-olympics-with-pardons/).
Putin Again Defends Anti-Gay Law, Says He’s Not Counting Medals.  At his press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Moscow’s law banning homosexual propaganda is a reasonable and proper defense of Russia’s traditional culture and that no one has the right to challenge that on Russian territory.  At the same time, he says that he is not counting on Russian Olympians to win any specific number of medals” (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/21842-putin-prizyvaet-ne-schitat-olimpijskie-medali-no-ot-sportsmenov-trebuet-projavit-harakter).
Canadian Intelligence Reports Highlight Security Threats at Sochi.  Two declassified Canadian intelligence documents, obtained by “The National Post,” outline potential terrorist threats to the Sochi Olympiad including from the Caucasus Imarat’s Doku Umarov who has denounced the games as “satanic” and called on his followers to prevent them from taking place (insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1017498-canadian-intelligence-report-brings-home-danger-of-terrorism-at-sochi-2014).
Human Rights Watch, AGORA Denounce Crackdown in North Caucasus.  HRW and AGORA denounce what they said is a sweeping Russian government crackdown against environmental, ethnic and political activists in the North Caucasus. This effort at intimidation, the full extent of which is unknown, isn’t working but is a demonstration that Moscow has no intention of living according to the Russian Constitution and its own laws as it seeks to keep anyone from being critical of what is going on in Sochi. Some observers suggested that the effort is especially offensive because it equates criticism with terrorism. Regional officials have denied to Western agencies that a crackdown is taking place (novayagazeta.ru/politics/61459.htmlewnc.org/node/13163kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235358/,hrw.org/news/2013/12/18/russia-new-harassment-olympic-critics andmercurynews.com/olympics/ci_24739426/sochi-olympic-critics-get-terrorist-treatment).
ICG Sees Crackdown Spreading from North Caucasus to the Rest of Russia. Ekaterina Sakiryanskaya, an expert at the International Crisis Group, said there is evidence that Moscow’s crackdown in the North Caucasus is now spreading to other parts of the Russian Federation and may even be taking on more extreme forms as it does so (golos-ameriki.ru/content/sochi-extremism/1813310.html).
Russian Arrests of Circassian Activists ‘Catastrophe’ for All of Russia, One of Their Number Says.  Ibragim Yaganov said the arrests were connected with the Olympics. Russian officials “are trying to ensure security, only security from the wrong people.”  The result of such heavy-handedness will be “catastrophic not just for Circassians but for all Russia” because it will lead many who have been silent to raise their voices in protest. Russian officials arrested, then released, and then called back for question at least a dozen Circassians. Officials suggested that they were linked with the Wahhabis, something totally false (sports.yahoo.com/news/russia-detains-caucasus-activists-ahead-olympics-190701475–oly.html).
Russia’s Arrest of Circassian Backfiring, ICG Expert Says. Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, an expert at the International Crisis Group, says that the arrest of Circassians on false charges is backfiring, that the Circassians will become more active, and that their demands will receive more attention not only in the region but around the world (caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=21220).
Circassians, Allies Protest Arrests. Circassians organized demonstrations outside Russian diplomatic posts in New York, Istanbul, and other cities. Circassian organizations across the board denounced the arrests and warned that more were likely in the future. And many Circassians who had been supportive of the Olympiad or at least not actively opposed appear to have been radicalized (demotix.com/news/3297530/circassians-protest-against-2014-winter-olympic-games-sochi#media-3297482kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235205/,kavpolit.com/rossijskix-cherkesov-podderzhali-iz-za-okeana/natpress.ru/index.php?newsid=8597,freecircassia.ucoz.com/news/obrashhenie_k_aktivistam_cherkesskogo_nacionalnogo_dvizhenija/2013-12-15-351kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235109/regnum.ru/news/polit/1745555.html andfreecircassia.ucoz.com/news/oficialnoe_zajavlenie_cherkesskogo_nacionalnogo_dvizhenija/2013-12-17-352).
Wave of Arrests May Prompt Circassians to Hold Congress. Mukhamed Cherkesov, the chairman of Adyge Khase, says that the sweeping crackdown on Circassians Russian officials are conducting, including the recent arrests of more than ten activists on false charges of extremism, may prompt the Circassians to convene a congress to decide on their next steps (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235195/).
Shapsugs Say Russian Officials Blocking Their Efforts to Find Ancestors’ Graves. The Shapsugs, a subgroup of the Circassians who were native to the Sochi area and who suffered the greatest proportional losses of that nation during the 1864 genocide conducted by Russian forces have again had their request to look for the graves of their ancestors turned down by Russian officials (lenta.ru/articles/2013/12/17/circassian/).
Expert Says Moscow Won’t Allow More Syrian Circassians Back to Caucasus. Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the Russian Foreign and Defense Policy Council, said that Russia’s special services oppose allowing Circassians from war-torn Syria to return to the North Caucasus out of fears that their return would open a corridor for the entry of extremists (.golos-ameriki.ru/content/sochi-extremism/1813310.html).
Medvedev Says Sochi Almost Ready … While on a visit to Sochi, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that he was “satisfied” with preparations for the Olympiad because “the absolute majority of objects are ready” (sochi-24.ru/politika/medvedev-ostalsya-dovolen-olimpijskoj-strojkoj.20131217.71939.html).
… But Indicates Internet Access There Isn’t. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev complained, as others have, that Internet connectivity, despite official promises, is not that good or comprehensive in Sochi and called for more work in that sector (sochi2014.rsport.ru/and privetsochi.ru/blog/TELECOMSCH/39258.html).
Sochi Security to Be Like in Moscow in 1980 but More Extensive and Expensive. Experts say that Moscow will be imposing security arrangements in Sochi much like those it did during the 1980 games but that it will be using new and more expensive technology, such as drones and Internet and phone monitoring.  Among the similarities between the two games, they say, will be a crackdown on dissidents prior to the Olympiad, undercover operatives who will infiltrate those who attend or take part, and severe limitations on movement that will cause long lines and delays (businessinsider.com/sochi-olympics-to-see-soviet-style-security-2013-12 and vocativ.com/12-2013/sochi-olympics-inside-russias-extensive-security/).
Only One Sochi Resident in 12 Trusts Mayor Pakhomov, Poll Shows.  A poll of 1600 Sochi residents found that only 12 percent of them trust Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov. More than 65 percent said they did not ( sochi-24.ru/politika/sochincy-ne-doveryayut-meru-pahomovu-rezultaty-socoprosa.20131213.71806.html).
Regional Media Site Drops Report on Pakhomov Poll.  According to Blogsochi.ru, the website of “Delovaya gazeta.Yug” initially posted a report about the poll showing low levels of trust in Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov and then took the report down, apparently as a result of official interference (blogsochi.ru/content/tsenzura-v-izdanii-%C2%ABdelovaya-gazeta-yug%C2%BB).
Meeting Calls for Ouster of Mayor Pakhomov. Approximately 100 residents of Sochi showed up at a meeting outside Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov’s office to demand his ouster because of his failure to defend them against Sochi construction or to respond to their demands for the restoration of basic services.  Some observers suggested that the meeting itself was a provocation intended to give Pakhomov an excuse to crack down on the opposition (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235178/).
Pakhomov Says City Must to Everything to Prevent Oligarch Flight After Games. Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov told the Sochi city council that their most important task is to make sure that conditions are such that “all the oligarchs who build hotels here will not run away after the Olympiad,” a clear indication of where his interests lie ( sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%B3%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4-%D0%B1%D0%B5%D0%B7-%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%B9%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D1%85-%D0%B4%D0%BE%D1%85%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%B2/).
Behind the Corrupt Contract Navalny Identified is a Pakhomov Aide.  Investigators have discovered that the man behind the 604 million ruble (20 million US dollars) contract for seven days work opposition leader Aleksey Navalny discussed a week ago is an aide to Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov.  No charges have yet been filed against him (blogsochi.ru/content/sovladeltsem-firmy-vyigravshei-%22podozritelnyi%22-goskontrakt-okazalsya-pomoshchnik-glavy-tsent ).
Sochi Authorities Arrest and Convict Blogger on Trumped Up Charges.  Officials in Sochi arrested, convicted and sentenced Aleksandr Valov, editor of Blogsochi.ru, to 50 hours of public service ostensibly because his blog carried a story about a meeting of local residents angry at Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov. The authorities accused him of organizing the meeting, but Valov pointed out that his blog, which has been a thorn in the side of Pakhomov and others, is an open one and features stories about all kinds of issues from all kinds of perspectives. He rejected the findings of the court, said they were an obvious act of attempted intimidation, and said he would appeal (blogsochi.ru/content/reshenie-suda-budet-obzhalovano andblogsochi.ru/content/v-sochi-zaderzhan-glavnyi-redaktor-saita-%22blogsochi%22-aleksandr-valov).
Sochi Residents Lack Power, Water and Heat as Temperature Falls.  Sochi residents in many parts of the city are suffering because of the lack of power, water and heat. Some have not had one or more of these services for more than a week despite plunging temperatures. Moreover, bus service has been cut back, and prices have been increased for certain services in advance of the Olympics when Moscow has pledged such prices will be frozen.  One Sochi woman said that “we are simply surviving. The city government doesn’t react at all to our problems.”  At least some of the problems have been caused by the failure of construction firms to avid hitting power and water mains.  Some residents are calling for protests, and at least one has compared what is going on in his city with “a genuine genocide” (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%B7%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B0-%D0%B2%D0%BE-%D0%BC%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%B5/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235105/,
Trash Heaps Continue to Grow Around Sochi. Despite official promises and claims, heaps of construction debris and other trash continue to grow around Sochi, destroying many formerly beautiful landscapes and threatening public health because of runoff.  Some officials have been incautious enough to suggest that in places, the trash heaps have added to the attraction of the area. Residents view the heaps as the true Olympic symbols (ewnc.org/node/13174sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/ekologi-meriya-sochi-vret-o-pererabotke-bytovyh-othodov.20131214.71853.html and blogsochi.ru/content/gryaznaya-olimpiada andgazaryan-suren.livejournal.com/119715.html).
LGBT Activists Condemn NBC for Approach to Sochi Games.  Gay activists say that NBC, which will broadcast the Olympiad in the United States, is “neglecting to report that people are afraid to be themselves. There are laws in effect that forbid people from speaking about the fact that it’s okay to be gay. People are being beaten up. They’re being physically violated. They’re being raped. It’s being done for entertainment. Vladimir Putin’s regime is, if not encouraging it, then certainly letting it go on.” Moreover, they say, “NBC has dispatched Olympic commentator Johnny Weir and MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, two openly gay men, to soft-pedal the Russian government’s anti-LGBT bigotry,” said Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation NY, an LGBT rights group. “LGBT Russians have been vilified, assaulted, tortured, murdered, and fired from their jobs by the Russian government and by Russian thugs. It’s past time for NBC to report the facts about Russia.” Others have condemned NBC for hiring Vladimir Pozner to be a commentator because Pozner in the past was an active apologist for Soviet actions such as the invasion of Afghanistan (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-olympics/news/20131216/sochi-olympics-nbc-gay-rights-protests/#ixzz2nlcsZ4N7miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/2013/12/wtf-queer-nation-ny-protests-nbc-which-will-broadcast-2014-winter-olympic-games-from-russia.html and newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2013/12/13/sochi-olympics-nbc-hires-soviet-union-apologist-who-called-its-1979-inva).
Queer Nation Put Out ‘Olympic Jive’ Video as Ironic Christmas Present. Queer Nation, a US gay rights group, has put out a video which in the words of one of its activists, “tells the not-at-all inspiring tale of the International Olympic Committee and eleven of the top Olympic sponsors. They have agreed that the ideals of the Olympic charter are expendable platitudes because they interfere with collecting Olympic profits. The inaction by the IOC and the sponsors has reduced the Olympic charter’s assurances of non-discrimination and respect for basic human rights to mere jive talk, and the global LGBTQ community are not at all fooled by it” (youtube.com/watch?v=pE17lylxaVY).
Sochi Torch Travails Continue, Claim First Death.  As the Sochi torch continued to make its way across the Russian Federation, it suffered many of the same problems this week that it has in the past: the torch has gone out and unexpectedly flamed up, officials have tried to beautify the route by covering up aging buildings, and Russians have expressed skepticism about whether the torch and the games are worth their price. But the torch route also claimed its first death as one of the bearers suffered a fatal heart attack after running the route. As a result, officials say they will now have all runners followed by an ambulance staffed with medical personnel.  One humorous moment came when one runner pledged to do his part “for the party and the government,” the kind of declaration Soviet citizens used to have to make (cbsnews.com/news/sochi-games-torch-relay-plagued-by-mishaps-death/debryansk-rus.org/2013/12/18/, nytimes.com/2013/12/18/sports/olympics/got-a-light-olympic-torch-relay-seems-cursed-to-the-ends-of-the-earth.html?hp&_r=0,echo.msk.ru/blog/bykov_d/1219759-echo/ ,  sobkorr.ru/news/52AEFEECC7AE3.html,sochi2014.rsport.ru/torchrelay/20131217/708633788.html,huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/vadim-gorbenko-dead-russian-torchbearer_n_4451422.html, and  sochi-24.ru/sochi-2014/na-fakelonosce-olimpijskogo-ognya-zagorelas-shapka.20131213.71823.html).
FSB Warns Against Distribution of Nemtsov Report on Sochi. FSB officers have told Russians along the torch route that they will be arrested if they distribute copies of Boris Nemtsov’s report that criticizes the Olympics for their location, security arrangements and cost (echo.msk.ru/blog/nemtsov_boris/1218963-echo/).
Medvedev’s Office Denies He Called for Putting Up Casinos in Sochi After the Games.  A press officer for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the Russian leader did not propose or discuss putting up casinos in Sochi after the Olympiad in order to enhance its status as a tourist destination.  Several oligarchs have pressed for such a step in order to protect their investments there (blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskie-obekty-prevratyat-v-kazino,http://argumenti.ru/society/2013/12/306386 and http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235393/).
Moscow Bank Says Sochi Investors Don’t Have to Pay Loans Until 2016.  Faced with complaints that Olympic construction has cost far more than planned, a Russian bank says that the companies involved there will not have to pay back their loans until 2016. But some observers, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said that investors should not be bailed out just because they ask for it. They called for a balanced approach, one that would take into consideration both the companies’ demands and the needs of society (kavpolit.com/sochi-v-luchshix-tradiciyax-kurshevelya/kommersant.ru/doc/2371793  and  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235224/).
Moscow Lacks Plan for Sochi After Games.  Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Moscow’s Macro Advisory, says that Russian has created massive new infrastructure in Sochi but has “no plan to attract business” after the Olympiad, raising questions about whether it will be able to recover its investment (washingtonpost.com/business/as-sochi-winter-olympics-near-rich-russians-bankrolling-games-spar-with-vladimir-putin/2013/12/12/c797d308-6106-11e3-94ad-004fefa61ee6_story.html).
Gazprom to Hold Corporate New Year’s Party in Sochi. Gazprom, the largest investor in the Sochi Games, has announced that it will hold a corporate new year’s party in several of the Sochi venues (ria.ru/society/20131217/984659039.html#ixzz2novsHumX).
Russian Duma Deputies Ask Father Frost for Snow in Sochi.  To ensure that there will be enough snow for the Olympiad, members of the Russian Duma have asked Father Frost to provide it. Other Russians have been doing the same, including as many as 60 members of the Russian military (sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/ded-moroz-deputaty-sprashivayut-pro-sneg-v-sochi.20131219.72035.html).
Olympic Competitors Who Give Filmed Interviews to Unauthorized May Be Disqualified.  To protect the provisions of their contract with international broadcasters, Russian officials say that any athlete who gives unauthorized interviews on film to someone who then sends the pictures out via cellphone could be disqualified, a threat certain to reduce contacts between competitors and journalsts (sochi-24.ru/sochi-2014/-atletov-diskvalificiruyut-za-olimpijskoe-intervyu.20131219.72021.html).
Olympic Village Apartments to Go on Sale Even Before Games. To raise cash, the owners of the apartments in the Olympic Village in Imeretinsk will be able to sell them starting before the end of 2013. The sales will be down on a closed basis, apparently without public signs advertising the fact or announcements of who the buyers may be (www.sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/12/19/).
Sochi to Fine Residents with Unkempt Yards. Sochi officials say they will levy fines of from 300 to 50,000 rubles (10 to 1600 US dollars) for residents who fail to keep their yards attractive during the Olympic Games. They have not threatened to do anything to contractors who dump construction waste in various parts of the city and its environs (blogsochi.ru/content/meriya-sochi-budet-shtrafovat-zhitelei-za-neblagoustroennye-dvory). What the officials are doing to beautify some parts of the city is to install pictures of flowers that won’t be blooming at the time of the games (blogsochi.ru/content/narisovannye-klumby).
Delays and Uncompleted Work Mark Infrastructure Construction. An underpass promised to be available on June 25 was in fact declared completed only at the end of October, but Sochi residents note that it floods – there is inadequate drainage – and has no electric lights, which makes it unsafe at night (blogsochi.ru/content/zatopilo-podzemnyi-perekhod-na-platanovoi-allee).
Many Sochi Roads Remain Unpaved and Deeply Rutted.  While the Sochi city authorities and Olympic organizers are justly proud of many new roads in the city center, the situation just outside that district is truly disturbing: many streets and roads remain unpaved and heavily rutted, as drivers seek a way around the traffic jams on the god ones.  Residents are documenting this with pictures (blogsochi.ru/content/doroga-na-pyatigorskoi ).
Security Measures in Sochi Lead to Violations of Civil and Human Rights, Activists Say.  Many of the measures that Moscow has taken to ensure security at the Olympiad are leading to violations of the civil and human rights of Russians living there. Semen Simonov of Memorial says that the police routinely ignore accepted procedures and that their actions are leading to “total control over citizens” in violation of the Russian Constitution. Aleksandr Valov of Blogsochi says that the police work not for the population but for Putin and other officials. And Adrey Koshik, a Krasnodark journalist, says that residents are being subjected to repeated and unjustified searches and seizures (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235367/).
World Anti-Doping Agency Increases Supervision of Troubled Sochi Facility.  WADA has been overseeing drug testing at Olympiads since 2000 but in the past it has simply produced a post-Games report on how the host facility worked. For Sochi’s troubled laboratory, however, WADA will have a team that will interact with Russian testers on a daily basis to ensure that drug testing meets international standards (lawinsport.com/sports-law-news/item/andy-parkinson-to-lead-wada-independent-observer-program-at-sochi-2014).
Australian Olympian Says He’ll Wear Protest Merchandise at Sochi.  Whatever the Russians plan,Bell Brockhoff, an Australian snowboarder, says he will wear special protest merchandise in support of equality provisions of the Olympic Charter and in denunciation of Moscow’s anti-LGBT stance (au.ibtimes.com/articles/531015/20131219/belle-brockhoff-principle-six-p6-sochi-winter.htm ).
Guide to North Caucasus Blogosphere Now Available. Given restrictions on Russian media, blogs in the North Caucasus may be among the best sources for news and information about many aspects of the Olympiad in the coming weeks.  Two researchers have now produced a guide to the blogosphere in that region (globalvoicesonline.org/2013/12/10/introducing-the-blogosphere-of-russias-north-caucasus/ ).Another useful publication issued in advance of the Games is a National Geographic map showing the borders of Circassia (ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/sochi-russia/circassia-map).
Enhanced Sochi-Related Security Arrangements for Circassian Area to Start Early.Beginning on December 25, Russian siloviki will begin making sweeps through the Adygey Republic to arrest anyone who might be involved in supporting opposition to the Sochi Games or any violence there, according to Aslan Tkhakushinov, the head of that republic (natpress.net/index.php?newsid=11802).
Ingushetia Announces More Security for Sochi Torch and Games.  Officials in Magas say they are increasing security in advance of the passage of the Olympic torch and the games themselves, seeking out anyone they believe may oppose the Olympiad or want to disrupt it
Russian Search for Illegal Gastarbeiters in Sochi Detailed. In November, siloviki made 65,803 checks, investigated more than 3500 apartments and 1500 other buildings, as well as investigated 603 transportatioin facilities and 55,600 cars, buses and trucks. In the course of this operation, the authorities detained 25 people. As a result, an operation that disrupted the lives of many and spread fear and anger in the population  netted only a miniscule number of people in violation of the law (natpress.net/index.php?newsid=11802 ).
Adygey Republic Plans to Include ‘National Elements’ in Celebration of Torch’s Arrival.  The Olympic torch will pass through Adygeya on February 3, one of its last stops before the Games themselves.  A conference in Maikop this week said that republic oficials would ensure that “national elements” – presumably a reference to Circassian cultural symbols – will be included in the celebration of the torch’s passing. Russian officials are likely to cite this as an example of their claimed support for Circassians whose ancestors were subjected to genocide in Sochi in 1864 by Russian military units (http://www.natpress.net/index.php?newsid=11801).
Olympiad Restrictions Forcing Sochi Employers to Lay Off Workers.  Restrictions imposed in advance of the Sochi Games on transportation are forcing some Sochi employers to lay off workers, creating yet another source of tension in the city (blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskie-ubytki).
Sochi Residents Say They’re Sick of ‘Zones’ and Feel They are in ‘One Big One.’ Sochi residents are fed up with the decisions of the authorities to divide their city into “zones” to limit movement and increase security.  They say that in fact all this has done is to transform their formerly lovely town into one big “zone,” a term that in Russian refers to a prison camp (blogsochi.ru/content/sochinskie-zony-tuda-nizya-syuda-nizyaро).
Olympic Construction Leaves Sochi without Beaches.  Russian officials have allowed private contractors to build hotels and housing so close to the shoreline that Sochi no longer has any of the beaches that for many decades were its chief calling card and attraction (blogsochi.ru/content/plyazhei-v-sochi-net).
Why Do Muscovites but Not Sochi Residents Get to Vote on Paid Parking? People in Sochi would like to know why residents of the Russian capital are being allowed a referendum on the introduction of paid parking but they are not. In the Olympic city, officials have simply introduced paid parking in many streets (privetsochi.ru/blog/auto_sochi/39367.html ).
Sochi Should be Renamed ‘Sankt Putin Grad,’ Resident Says.  A Sochi resident says that after what Vladimir Putin has done to Sochi, the city should be renamed in his honor: Sankt Putin Grad (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/39347.html).
Sochi Police Arrest Real Terrorist who Blew Up a Plane in Hungary 20 Years Ago. Sochi police announce that they have arrested a 42-year-old Russian citizen who was involved in a criminal group that among other things blew up a plane in Hungary in1995. They did not say what he was doing in Sochi (sochi-24.ru/proishestviya/v-sochi-zaderzhali-vengerskogo-terrorista-.20131218.71979.html).
Leno Again Compares 2014 Sochi Games to 1936 Berlin Olympiad.  US Tonight Show host Jay Leno has again compared the Sochi Games to those in Hitler’s Berlin. He said that restrictions on LGBTs in Russia reminded him of how the Nazis began their persecution o the Jews, something that he said “makes me uncomfortable” (thegailygrind.com/2013/12/17/tonight-show-host-jay-leno-compares-russian-olympics-nazi-germany/).
Russian Law Makes It Hard for Officials to Force Employers to Pay Wages. According to Russian officials, Russian law makes it difficult for them to force companies to pay workers what they are owed.  There are many loopholes,such as registering the company under a false name, and a “Novaya gazeta” investigation found that companies, both Russian and foreign, are using all of them in Sochi. As a result and despite a certain improvement in recent weeks, many workers there have not been paid some or all of what they have earned (novayagazeta.ru/economy/61504.html).
Sochi Cost No Less than Chechen Wars but Without Similar Justification, Russian Writer Says.  Moscow has spent more on Sochi than it did on its two lost wars in Chechnya and with much less justification. If the wars in Chechnya were intended to prevent the disintegration of the Russian Federation, Sochi at best is a public relatons stunt and yet another means for officials and companies to steal from the state budget.  What struck the writer, he added, is not that there was theft in Sochi. That was to be expected in any Russian project. What is shocking is just how much theft there has been and continues to be (furfurmag.ru/furfur/all/culture/168645-olympic-games).
Muslims Complain of Harassment by Sochi Officials.  Officials have arrested an ethnic Russian Muslim in Sochi and harassed other Muslims there in the run up to the Olympiad, sparking a protest by the Muslim community in the city.  Russian officials have been particularly focued on ethnic Russian Muslim converts believing them to be more inclined to extremism and more capable of engaging in terrorist acts because they look just like other Russians (golosislama.ru/news.php?id=20941).
Rockslide near Sochi Derails Train.  A rockslide led to the derailment of a passenger train near Sochi, news agencies report. Apparently, walls intended to prevent rocks from falling onto the tracks were insufficient to hold back the slide once it began (nr2.ru/incidents/476123.html).
Struggle within United Russia Party Playing Out over Direction of Sochi Media. Forces loyal to Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov and those connected with local oligarch Viktor Teplyakov are engaged in a struggle for control over the local media, with Pakhomov having won earlier but Teplyakov having won more recently in terms of deciding what will appear in the “Mestnaya” paper (blogsochi.ru/content/gazeta-%C2%ABmestnaya%C2%BB-prevratilas-v-mestnyi-analog-ntv).
Putin Appoints New Judges in Krasnodar Kray.  Apparently to ensure that the courts in Krasnodar kray make the “correct” choices on cases involving the Sochi Olympiad, President Vladimir Putin has named several new judges to panels there (blogsochi.ru/content/dlya-vas-dorogie-sochintsy-3-novosti-poslednikh-dnei).
Olympic Posters Go Up – Without References to Region’s Culture.  The official Olympic posters show only ethnic Russian cultural objects despite promises by the organizing committee to the IOC that the Games would feature references to the culture of the Circassians and other indigenous peoples of the North Caucasus (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/21794-na-plakatah-sochinskoj-olimpiady-matrjoshka-lodelasr-v-loskutnoe-odejalo).
Sochi Gay Scene Now ‘In Decline,’ Participants Say.  Sochi had been a major center of LGBT life in Russia, but anti-gay prejudice and policies have caused some to leave and others to retreat back into the closet. “There is no gay community here. It’s a myth,” according to Roman Kochagov, owner of one of the two surviving gay clubs (trust.org/item/20131217094442-m1z0j).
Sochi Contractors Pave Directly Over Snow Rather than Clearing It First.  One reason that the roads in the Sochi area are unlikely to last is the shortcuts some highway contractors are taken. One of the most notorious, now documented in photographs, is to pave directly over snow rather than to clear the snow and prepared the foundation for the roads. When the snow melts, the road will disintegrate (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/39260.html).
Russian Olympic Committee Tells Duma ‘Practically All’ Olympic Objects Ready. Aleksandr Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee and a member of the Duma, told Russian legislators 60 days before the start of the Sochi Olympiad tht “practically all” Olympic venues are ready and tested. He said that in his view, “the objects are not simply new, they are unique and some are the best in the world.” He didn’t say they were all finished, however (sochi-24.ru/politika/v-gosdume-podveli-itogi-podgotovki-k-olimpiade.20131216.71885.html).
Russia’s First Deputy Interior Minister Visits Sochi. Aleksandr Gorovoy, first deputy interior minister and likely the point man for many of Russia’s security efforts in Sochi, spent three days in the Olympic area inspecting security arrangements (sochi-24.ru/politika/pervyj-zamglavy-mvd-tri-dnya-rabotal-v-sochi.20131216.71877.html).
‘Stalin Wouldn’t Have Let Sochi Games Happen,’ Museum Guide Says.  A guide at the villa museum where Stalin stayed when he came to the resort city says that “Stalin ouldn’t have let this event happen because it’s just ruining the city” (outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/europe/russia/The-Zoich-Olympics.html).
Russian TV Star Says Gays Should be Burned Alive ‘in Ovens.’  Ivan Okhlobystin, star of a popular Russian television series, says that gays represent a danger to his children and that they should be burned alive in ovens.  The actor, who earlier was an Orthodox priest and ideologue in a party linked to the Kremlin, also called for stripping LGBTs of their voting rights. Okhlobystin’s outburst only further enflames anti-gay attitudes in the Russian Federation (themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russian-sitcom-star-says-gay-people-should-be-burned-alive/491554.html).
Moscow Gay Club Appeals to Putin for Protection. A Moscow gay club, in the face of growing anti-LGBT attitudes in the Russian capital, has directly appealed to President Vladimir Putin for protection. As of this writing, the Kremlin leader has not responded (echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/1218385-echo/).
In Sochi, Go Down Shotgun Street and Make a Left.  Russian officials in order to help visitors to the Sochi Games are putting up street signs in English alongside the Russian.  Some of the translations are less than adequate. One, for example, translates the Russian word for “rifle” as “shotgun” (avmalgin.livejournal.com/4209700.html).
Sochi Officials Go After Small Fry, Legalize Illegal Actions of Big Players.  Activists from the Law and Order Movement say that the Sochi city authorities are going after small businesses for show but doing little or nothing about large ones who have been able to gain official cover for their illegal actions (blogsochi.ru/content/neustoika-v-15-488-205-000-rublei,http://blogsochi.ru/content/sud-postanovil-reshenie-dom-snesti-zastroishchik-reshil-dostroit-i-uzakonit  and blogsochi.ru/content/administratsiya-i-prokuratura-goroda-sochi-uzakonili-samovolku-cherez-sud).
More Trees Likely to Blow Over in Sochi Because of Olympic Construction.  Olympic builders have undermined the root system of trees along many streets and roads in Sochi, putting them at risk of being blown over by storms. Several hundred already have been, and their fall has knocked out power and phone lines over the last several months (blogsochi.ru/content/prichina-togo-pochemu-padayut-derevya%E2%80%A6).
Sochi 2014’ Play Extends Its Run.  A play by Tess Berry-Hart documenting anti-LGBT attitudes and policies in the Russian Olympic city has been expanded and its run extended. Proceeds from the London play are going to Spectrum HR, a leading gay rights advocacy group in Eastern Europe (broadwayworld.com/uk-regional/article/TheatreUpClose-to-Bring-SOCHI-2014-Play-to-The-Hope-Theatre-Feb-4-March-1-20131212).
Sochi is Putin’s ObamaCare, Washington Post Says.  An article in the “Washington Post” says that the Sochi Olympiad is for Russian President Vladimir Putin what expanded health care is for US President Barack Obama, the acts that the two men hope will define their legacies but ones that have already suffered from many problems (washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/sochi-a-russian-city-with-olympic-hopes-and-dreams/2013/12/12/a805b054-5df1-11e3-be07-006c776266ed_story.html).
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ОПЕРАЦИЯ «ЧЕРНЫШЕВ»: ОЛИМПИАДА-2014 И ЧЕРКЕСЫ

ОПЕРАЦИЯ «ЧЕРНЫШЕВ»: ОЛИМПИАДА-2014 И ЧЕРКЕСЫ

Синхронные задержания черкесских националистов вызвали резонанс на Западе

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Фатима Тлисовa

Обновлено 18.12.2013 22:27

ВАШИНГТОН — Декабрьские выходные для восьми черкесских активистов из трех републик – Адыгеи, КБР, КЧР – прошли как в детективном кино: задержание спецназом и поездка на допрос на сотни километров от дома. Задержанные черкесы известны своими выступлениями с критикой Олимпиады в Сочи, требованиями признания геноцида черкесов и поездками в Грузию. Не в ладах они и с радикальными исламистами: шесть из восьми сайтов северокавказских религиозных экстремистов характеризуют их как «врагов ислама», пропагандирующих «черкесские традиции в противовес шариату» и объявляют «халяльными целями». После убийства кабардино-балкарскими исламистами черкесского активиста и ученого Аслана Ципинова специалистыоценивают эти угрозы как вполне реальные. Сообщалось также, что на жизнь двоих задержанных недавно покушались исламисты. Следствие, однако, проверяет их «на предемет связей с исламским экстремистом, находящимся в международном розыске».

Как это было?

Очевидцы и некторые из задержанных рассказали корреспонденту «Голосу Америки» о случившемся – на условиях анонимности. По их словам, задержания произошли вечером в субботу 13 декабря. Осуществлялись они группами специального назначения МВД. При задержании всем был задан один вопрос – «о связях с ваххабитом Чернышевым», в поисках которого их дома были обысканы, компьютеры и электроника изъяты, а сами они задержаны и увезены в Краснодар. Ночь с пятницы на субботу черкесские активисты провели в пригородных мотелях столицы олимпийского края – в изоляции друг от друга, в кампании охранников, без ужина и связи. Двух из восьми отпустили в субботу утром с предписанием явиться на допрос в понедельник утром; других отпускали постепенно: одних – до допроса, других – после. Допрашивал «очень вежливо» офицер особого отдела УВД Краснодара. Расспрашивал о биографии, о поездках в Грузию – и о «ваххабите Чернышеве». Задержанным сообщили, что они «проходят свидетелями», и что расследование дела продолжается (а значит, их могут вызвать или задержать снова), и отпустили. Домой – в Майкоп, Черкесск и Нальчик – черкесы добирались самоходом. Без денег и документов, а в некоторых случаях – без теплой одежды – в чем забирали.

Что это было?

Американский аналитик – специалист по этническим меньшинствам на постсоветсском пространстве – Пол Гобл сказал корреспонденту Русской службы «Голоса Америки», что считает имевшие место задержания «частью продолжающегося геноцида черкесской нации».

Эксперты связывают случившееся с приближающейся Олимпиадой-2014.

«Мы наблюдали демонстрацию силы и попытку оказать жесткое давление на черкесских лидеров перед Зимними играми в Сочи. На мой взгляд, это часть мощной кампании по зачистке всего того, что власть воспринимает как опасность безоблачной Олимпиаде», – сказала корреспонденту «Голоса Америки» руководитель Северокавказской программы Международной кризисной группы Екатерина Сакирянская. Эксперт указала также на то, что «аналогичное давление» оказывается и на мусульманские общины Дагестана и Татарстана».

«Если со стороны фундаментальных мусульманских общин власти ожидают угроз безопасности, то со стороны черкесских активистов они боятся критических оценок выбора места проведения игр, процесса подготовки к Олимпиаде, а также обеспечения национально-культурных прав коренных народов. Однако используемые механизмы давления примерно одни: незаконные задержания, обыски, допросы. Черкесские активисты используют мирные методы продвижения своих целей, именно поэтому вчерашние аресты и обыски вызвали такую бурю общественного негодования. Подобные действия властей приведут к обратной реакции: черкесская тема теперь прозвучит еще громче», – отметила Екатерина Сакирянская.

Один из задержанных, председатель общественного движения «Хасэ» Ибрагим Яганов заявил на своей странице в Фейсбук: «Ни черкесский народ, ни лидеры черкесских организаций не угрожают проведению Олимпиады, а угроза крайне необходима спецслужбам. Акция, которая прошла 13-14 декабря в Краснодаре является ничем иным, кроме как борьбой с “ветряными мельницами”. А огромная армия спецслужб, с неимоверными усилиями находит себе проблему и героически ее преодолевает».

Российский публицист Андрей Епифанцев сказал корреспонденту «Голоса Америки», что расценивает задержание активистов как «предупреждение, чтобы на время Олимпиады сидели тихо». Эту акцию аналитик находит «совершенно правильной» – как реакцию на то, что черкесы позволяли себе «столько лет катить бочку на Россию и миловаться с ее явными врагами типа Саакашвили или Югара». (Эд Югар – директор Черкессого совета Нью-Джерси, США – Ф.Т.).

Напомним, что в рамках принятой правительством Михаила Саакашвили программы интеграции с народами Северного Кавказа парламент Грузии в мае 2011 года признал массовые убийства и депортации черкесов в девятнадцатом веке актом геноцида. В прощальной речи в качестве президента на Генеральной Ассамблее ООН в Нью-Йорке Саакашвили призвал международное сообщество последовать примеру Грузии в признании геноцида черкесов. В России действия Грузии в черкесском вопросе вызвали критику на официальном уровне.

Диаспора

Названный Андреем Епифанцевым в числе «врагов России» Эд Югар также отреагировал на задержание активистов в России проведением синхронных демонстраций протеста черкесов диаспоры в США, Европе и Турции.

«В предверии Рождества мы вышли к консульству России в Нью-Йорке, чтобы потребовать от правительства России прекратить преследования черкесов, отпустить всех задержанных, а также улучшить политику по правам человека на Кавказе», – сказал Эд Югар, выступая в минувшее воскресенье на пикете в Нью-Йорке.

Пол Гобл указал на другой «болезненный для Кремля» аспект «черкессой проблемы» – лимитирование возвращения черкесов диаспоры на историческую родину, в особенности – в связи с кризисом в Сирии.

«Москва не только отказывается спасать черкесов, которых убивает союзнический режим Асада в Сирии, но и атакует черкесское общество на Родине», – заявил Гобл. Недавняя акция, по аналитика, «вызывает возмущение еще и потому, что призвана продемонстрировать, что Путин может делать все, что хочет, но Запад промолчит».

Кризис в Сирии напрямую затронул более чем стотысячную черкесскую диаспору, многие представители которой видят спасение в возвращении на историческую родину – на Северный Кавказ. Москва неоднократно выражала беспокойство в связи с судьбой этнических и религиозных меньшинств в Сирии и предлагала убежище всем, кто его попросит. Однако позиция Москвы в черкесском вопросе остается достаточно жесткой – Россия не придает черкесам статус беженцев и не рассматривает их обращений о предоставлении убежища. Более того, МИД РФ лимитирует прибытие черкесов в республики Северного Кавказа специально устанавливаемыми визовыми квотами.

«Спецслужбы России опасаются, что если открыть корридор для черкесских беженцев, то им могут воспользоваться экстермистские элементы. Поэтому я не вижу перспектив изменения политики России по отношению к сирийским черкесам», – сказал корреспонденту «Голоса Америки» председатель президиума Совета по внешней и оборонной политике РФ Федор Лукьянов.

Впрочем, по мнению Фионы Хилл – директора Центра по изучению США и Европы при вашингтонском Институте Брукингса, международному сообществу «придется решать проблему беженцев из Сирии, в том числе и с учетом прав тех групп, которые хотят вернуться на территории, с которыми чувстсвуют себя связанными культурно, духовно и исторически».

http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/content/sochi-extremism/1813310.html

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WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 8 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 8 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 42nd 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

German President Says He Won’t Go to Sochi …  Joachim Gauk said he would not attend the Sochi Games, a decision some called a boycott but others, including the German Olympic Committee, said was a personal choice. Others speculated that he decided not to go because his father had spent time in the Russian GULAG and was harassed for years by the East German Stasi (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234873/).

… Polish President Won’t Go Either …  Bronislav Komorovsky says he won’t be in Sochi because as a matter of policy, he does not attend sports competitions abroad (zarusskiy.org/world/2013/12/09/komorovskiy/?utm_medium=twitter).

… Nor Will Vice President of the European Commission. Vivian Redding, the vice president of the European Commission, announced that she is boycotting the Sochi Olympiad because of Russia’s anti-gay legislation (echo.msk.ru/news/1214837-echo.html).

Czech Republic President Says He’s Going for Athletes Not for Putin.  Milos Zeman says that he will attend the Sochi Olympics because he was invited by his country’s national Olympic Committee but not because he was invited by Russian President Putin (nashidni.org/politika/346-prezident-chehii-edu-na-olimpiadu-a-ne-k-putinu.html).

More Boycotts by Officials Predicted. Russian commentators say that a boycott by athletes is increasingly unlikely but that many officials may choose to stay away either to avoid offending LGBT activists at home or for other reasons – although they said it was unlikely that the EU countries would adopt a common front on this issue (svpressa.ru/society/article/78967/ andnotum.info/news/soczium/bojkot-olimpiadyi-v-sochi-istoriya-s-prodolzheniem).

Lady Gaga Reiterates Call for Sochi Boycott.  Pop singer Lady Gaga said in London that “I don’t think that we should be going to the Olympics at all. I mean, I would never take anything away from [the athlete’s] hard work, I just think it is absolutely wrong for so many countries to send money and economy in the way of a country that doesn’t support gays … It made me very sad to see the pain that some of the gay kids are in in Russia, and for the world to send their finest for the Olympics … I can’t, it just feels so wrong and sad. I hate saying that, because I’m so excited for those like [gay athlete] Tom Daley to go and to win and to rejoice” (huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/07/lady-gaga-olympic-boycott_n_4400899.html ).
Amnesty International Won’t Call for Sochi Boycott.  The human rights organization Amnesty International said that it would not call for a boycott of the Sochi Games even though the situation with regard to rights and freedoms in Russia is deteriorating (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234651/).
Sochi Not Yet Ready for Games, IOC President Says.  Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, says that the Russian organizers of the Sochi games still have “a lot to do from the point of infrastructure, facilities and other issues” before they will be ready.  He added that the committee is not “dissatisfied” with progress as of two months before the opening ceremony and remains confident that everything will be finished in time for the competitions (itar-tass.com/sport/824315).
One Reason for Construction Delays: Some Russian Workers Aren’t Working.  Sochi residents have commented that of every five workers on construction sites in their city, only one appears to be working at any particular time, a pattern all too typical across Russia and one that makes the completion of Olympic projects ever more unlikely. Meanwhile, some Sochi residents note that deadlines for the completion of this or that project are coming and going with increasing frequency and that often when journalists are shown into a completed facility, all the windows of that building look out of places where construction is far from ended (blogsochi.ru/content/vse-uspevaemblogsochi.ru/content/sochi-park-60-dnei-do-olimpiady and privetsochi.ru/blog/auto_sochi/38796.html).
Sochi Residents Continue to Document Difference between Official Claims and Reality. Sochi residents are taking pictures showing that some of the facilities that officials say are complete are in fact anything but and that the amount of work that will be needed to finish them, if building codes are in fact followed, suggests at least some won’t be ready on time (blogsochi.ru/content/akh-sochi-fotoreportazh-chast-1).
Sochi Residents Lack Heat, Clean Water and Electricity as Temperatures Plunge. Now that nighttime temperatures in Sochi are below freezing, residents who lack heat, clean water, and electricity are suffering more than ever before.  The number at any one time is in the hundreds if not thousands, and some have been without these basic services for several weeks. In addition, schools and hospitals are in some cases without heat and light. The streets are icy making any venture out dangerous. Trash continues to pile up. Even internet connectivity has been sporadic in some sections of the city. And some residents say that what with the construction effort, which in many cases has led to the breaking of pipes and power lines on which they depend, their city has been thrown back to “the stone age” after a single winter storm. Some are even taking things into their own hands and building sewer lines away from their homes (blogsochi.ru/content/v-gorode-sochi-temnye-nochi,privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/38821.htmlprivetsochi.ru/blog/Wailing_wall/38988.html,
Sochi Mayor Says People Aren’t Unhappy Despite Problems.  Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov denied that people in his city are dissatisfied and unhappy, although he conceded that “there are problems,” something he hasn’t always done (blogsochi.ru/content/anatolii-pakhomov-obeshchayu-obeshchat).
Another Storm Hits Sochi and Raises Questions about Preparedness.  A winter storm, much less strong than the one that hit Sochi in September, has downed hundreds of trees, flooded numerous streets and underpasses, damaged containment walls, contributed to mudslides, and left thousands without heat, light, or even water. Clean up efforts have been intense but so far not terribly successful, and many residents say they do not expect their city to be “back in operation” anytime soon.  The impact of this storm was intensified by falling temperatures.  If a similar storm hits the region before or during the Olympics, the recent events suggest that there would be chaos (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234967/,blogsochi.ru/content/gorod-katok-sochi,
sochi-24.ru/proishestviya/likvidaciya-posledstvij-snega-v-sochi-prodolzhayutsya-.20131212.71789.htmlsochi-24.ru/proishestviya/osadki-vyveli-iz-stroya-zhizn-sochi.20131211.71711.htmlblogsochi.ru/content/pyatiballnyi-shtorm-v-imeretinke,blogsochi.ru/content/negozhe-palmam-razdetymi-stoyatprivetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/38983.htmlprivetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/38981.html,privetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/38971.htmlsochi-24.ru/proishestviya/osadki-vyveli-iz-stroya-zhizn-sochi.20131211.71711.htmlhttp://www.yuga.ru/news/316336/,blogsochi.ru/content/ostorozhno-padayut-derevyablogsochi.ru/content/novyi-fontan-v-khosteprivetsochi.ru/blog/pogoda_sochi/38942.html,privetsochi.ru/blog/auto_sochi/38924.htmlsochi-24.ru/obshestvo/gidrometcentr-v-sochi-projdet-ochen-silnyj-sneg.20131210.71673.htmlsochi-24.ru/proishestviya/snegopad-v-sochi-stal-prichinoj-mnogochislennyh-dtp.2013129.71623.html and sochiadm.ru/press-sluzhba/23765/).
Ever Fewer Russians View Sochi Games with Pride.  A new Levada Center poll shows that the share of Russians who view the Sochi Games as a source of pride has fallen from 68 percent a year ago to 61 percent now, with the number who say they do not view it that way rising fom 22 percent to 29 percent.  More are worried about the cost: In 2011, only 32 percent said the games were costing too much; now 44 percent do.  Moreover, 65 percent are now sure that money is being wasted, and 19 percent say at least some of it is being stolen (slon.ru/fast/russia/grafik-rossiyane-vse-menshe-gordyatsya-olimpiadoy-959100.xhtml).
IOC Sends Warning Letter to National Olympic Commitees about Protests.  The International Olympic Committee has sent a letter to the various national Olympic committees remind them of their responsibility to ensure that athletes to not engage in any demonstrations or political gestures during the games.  IOC President Thomas Bach used the occasion to say that he had full assurances from Russian President Vladimir Put that the Russian authorities would not discriminate against any athletes or spctators during the games. He said that he welcomed a Russian plan which he indicated had been under discussion with the IOC for some time to set aside a special place for others who want to demonstrate (vesti.ru/doc.html?id=1165577 and reuters.com/article/2013/12/10/olympics-sochi-protests-idUSL6N0JP3Z620131210).
Creation of Protest Zones in Sochi Gives FSB a Veto.  The FSB proposed and Moscow accepted what the IOC may have proposed in private: Beijing-like protest zones in which activists could demonstrate if they gain the approval of the security agencies.  The FSB cast this as a security measure, but activists said it almost certainly will be used to prevent any demonstrations or if that proves impossible to isolate them from most of the visitors to the games (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234967, en.rsport.ru/olympics/20131206/706072172.html,kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234656/ and privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/38752.html).
Russian PM Criticizes Russian Anti-Gay Law as ‘Exotic’…  Dmitry Medvedev says that Russia’s anti-gay legislation is a piece of “exoticism” that reflects the current trend of the Russian parliament to focus on the wrong issues. He said the Duma “may offer eotic initiatives but that does not mean that they should be supported.”  Medvedev’s comment is the clearest indication yet that he does not agree with the law that President Vladimir Putin has made a centerpiece of his policies and that continues to cause so much trouble abroad in the run-up to the Sochi Games (lgbtqnation.com/2013/12/russian-prime-minister-criticizes-duma-gay-propaganda-law/).
… But Defends Sochi Spending While Acknowledging Corruption.  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that the money spent on Sochi is fully justified because of the need to transform what had been “a very average resort” into a world-class one. At the same time, he acknowledged that whenever large amounts of money are being spent, some people will try to skim off funds for themselves corruptly (itar-tasskuban.ru/news/article?type=city2014&i=50763).
Bloomberg Columnist Blames IOC for Not Blocking Russia’s Anti-Gay Law.  Jonathan Mahler says that “the IOC probably could have stopped Russia from introducing its anti-gas legislation with a single threatening phone call from IOC President Thomas Back to Putin.”  He added that the latest plan by Moscow which the IOC has “welcomed” is setting aside small spaces for any demonstrators.  “This is how the IOC plans to deal with a 2014 Winter Games host country that treats gay people like drug dealers. If the concept sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve seen it before — no, not in the Warsaw Ghetto — at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.In order to protest, you had to obtain a government permit. Guess what? Not one of the dozens of applications filed by Chinese citizens was accepted …  Even if protesters don’t wind up in a Siberian gulag, the zones aren’t exactly an invitation to free expression: ‘Come on out and be heard before we round you up!’” (newsday.com/opinion/oped/mahler-gays-and-gulags-at-the-2014-sochi-olympics-1.6589914).
Protest Space to be in a Park in Khost, Sochi Administation Announces. Now that the FSB has secured a change in Vladimir Putin’s directive banning all demonstrations during the Olympiad, protesters who get the approval of the FSB, MVD, and the city administratio will be allowed to use a small park in Khost. Activists note that this arrangement is very much like that which the Chinese used at Beijing, when they denied almost all applications, and that it is up to 100 kilometers from where most fans will be (sobkorr.ru/news/52A9A3BBDC536.html).
US to Send Official Delegation to Sochi But Probably Not Obama.  Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Moscow, says that there is a 100 percent probability that the US will send an official “presidential” delegation to the Sochi Games but that its exact composition is still being discussed and that President Barack Obama is unlikely to be among the dignitaries (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234949/en.rsport.ru/olympics/20131211/707084079.html,ria.ru/sochi2014/20131211/983412582.html  and www.yuga.ru/news/316297/).
US Fund Managers Urge Sochi Sponsors to Speak Out on Russia’s Gay Law. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees the state’s $160 billion retirement fund, along with 20 other officials who oversee such funds, send a letter to the major corporate sponsors of the Sochi Games wrote in a letter this week to sponsors of the Sochi Games asking them to speak out about Russia’s anti-gay law Russian commentators have denounced this as an unacceptable effort by the American government to put pressure on the Russian government and one intended to disrupt the games (v1.livejournal.com/122304.html  and
Navalny Points to Obviously Corrupt Contract … Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny has identified a Sochi contract that would have given its signatory 604 million rubles (20 million US dollars) for a job to be completed in seven days and pointed out how impossible it would be for the work described to be done in that time frame (sochi-24.ru/ekonomika/navalnyj-rasskazal-ob-ocherednom-raspile-v-sochi-.20131211.71728.html,blogsochi.ru/content/aleksei-navalnyi-pochemu-razvalivayutsya-obekty-dlya-olimpiady andecho.msk.ru/blog/navalny/1215271-echo/).
… Authorities Say They’ll Look for ‘Doubtful’ Contract. After Navalny made his charge on the basis of official documents, the Russian authorities said that they would look into the manner, identify the prople involved, and rescind the contract.  So far, they have made no announcement of any progress on any of these things (sochi-24.ru/ekonomika/navalnyj-rasskazal-ob-ocherednom-raspile-v-sochi-.20131211.71728.html).
IOC President Says He’ll Forgo Five Star Hotel and Live in Olympic Village.  Thomas Bach said that he would live in the Olympic Village rather than in the five-star hotel set aside for the International Olympic Committee. He noted that “the rooms [in the village] are in certain respects even better thaan the hotel apartments” as “the uality of the Olympic village is at the highest level” (news.sport-express.ru/2013-12-09/646983/).
EWNC Says Moscow Failing to Keep Its Ecological Commitment. Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus says that the organizers of the Sochi Olympics have failed to live up to their pledges to the IOC to reduce trash and sort it before disposal. The EWNC said that it has evidence that construction waste is being disposed improprerl and that Russian officials are simply lying about what is going on (sobkorr.ru/news/52A85E6C24E09.html andewnc.org/node/13161).
FSB Officers Harass Czech Journalist.  Officers of the FSB border guards detained Czech journalist Miroslav Karasi for four hours before they were released at the insistence of the press service of the Sochi city government. Karasi and his cameraman were slated to meet with Russian ecological activist Yevgeny Vitishko who himself continues to be the object of official and judicial attack (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234841/ and ewnc.org/node/13147).
Moscow Replaces Kabadino-Balkaria Head.  Contrary to expectations, Moscow replaced the head of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in advance of the Sochi Games, and that has sparked suggestions that more changes be ahead in the North Caucasus in the next few weeks.  But it is possible that the changes in Kabardino-Balkaria were made precisely because of the Circassian connection of that republic – Kabardins are a subgroup of the Circassian nation – rather than the launch of a housecleaning that could destabilize the situation (jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=41734&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=bafeb92490f4bf3aed8bdf04515e7aaa#.UqcK3-JcUUN , politcom.ru/16868.html and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234862/).
International Circassian Council Appeals to US Congress on Sochi.  Iyard Youghar, chairman of the International Circassian Council, has sent a letter to all the members of the US Congress stating that “The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi – [Circassia’s] historical capital – gives the Russian government an opportunity to repair its relationship with Circassians. Out people declared 2014 The Year of Grief,’ the 150th anniversary of the Circassian Genocide … We ask you to appeal to the Russian Federation and the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence for the millions of Circassians who lost their lives in Sochi. We also request that a memorial dedicated to the 1.5 million Circassian victims be built in Sochi” (from the author; full text available on request).
Circassian Protests Against Sochi Games Dying Out, Abkhaz Expert Says. The protest campaign the Circassian launched in earlier years against Sochi has “almost come to nothing,” Mamuka Areshidze says. Some Circassians always favored the games, and “the Russian authorities have been able to divide Circssian organizations” so that they cannot speak in a unified fashion. As far as Sochi itself is concerned, Areshidze says, “verey few Circassians live there. They remain in mountain auls, and t the Olympics any large rotets or disorders are excluded. The Circassian tribes of the extreme western portion of the Caucasus, the Ubykhs and Shapsugs, who lived along the sea coast were particularly destroyed” and on’t engage in any protests. They prefer to engage in “a struggle by documents” to impress international organizations (abkhazeti.info/abkhazia/2013/1386792727.php).
Caucasus Riviera Resort Being Torn Down.  A resort that symbolized Sochi for many since it was built in 1905 is being torn down, producing anger among many residents and visitors.  “We always said that the Riviera is the heart o the resort” and cannot imagine why it had to be destroyed, one resident said.  He added that he had heard but could not confirm that contractors seeking to make even more money decided they could get away with destroying the lovely old building under cover of Olympic construction because that would be quicker and easier than refurbishing it (blogsochi.ru/content/snosyat-%22kavkazskuyu-riveru%22).
Roof of Bobsled Track Partially Collapses Under Snow.  Russian officials spent much of the week denying reports that part of the roof covering the bobsled run in Sochi had collapsed under the weight of newly fallen snow, despite the posting of pictures online which clearly show that part of the roof had in fact collapsed. Some of the Russian denials denied what those reporting had not said, while others failed to address the problem at all. By week’s end the pictues had been taken down from the web, but no journalists had been allowed to see what the situation actually is (echo.msk.ru/news/1214795-echo.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234843/ and
Abkhazia Which Had Hoped to Benefit from Sochi Likely to Suffer.  Abkhazia had high hopes that the Sochi Olympics would bring visitors and cash to that breakaway republic and attract attention to its status. But the IOC refused to allow it to field a team, and Russia for security reasons is imposing during the games an almost complete ban on traffic across the Russian-Abkhaz border. Indeed that ban is so comprehensive that officials fear it will prevent the delivery of food and other goods to Abkhazia. They are opening talks with the Russians in the hopes of allowing the needed delivery trucks in (mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/11/world/europe/close-to-the-olympics-far-from-the-bounty.html?emc=edit_tnt_20131211&tntemail0=y and news.sport-express.ru/2013-12-10/647239/).
Sochi Organizers Say Internet Will Be Accessible Everywhere But Problems Remain.  Rostelekom and its regional affiliate say that visitors to Sochi will have reliable internet access throughout the city and Olympic competition sites. There are two problems, however. On the one hand, Moscow has already announced that it will carefully monitor all such traffic so that no one sends out moving pictures of the competition.  And on the other, there have been problems with this network even in the last week. After the most recent storm, there was no Internet access in parts of the city, and for whatever reason, the site of the city government is now down “for reconstruction” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234983/ andprivetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/38821.html
Russian Military Moves Anti-Aircraft Unit to Sochi.  The Russian military has put a special group of anti-aicraft forces in Sochi armed with 3-300B4, S-300PS, S-300PM, Buk-M1, and M22 guns and missiles. Photographs of these armaments are no online (blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiada-2014-v-sochi-razvernuta-spetsgruppirovka-voisk-pvo andmignews.com/news/photo/world/081213_131738_91612.html).
Sochi Gives the World ‘Potemkin Trees.’  Because so many trees have been cut down during Olympic construction and because others have been blown down by recent storms, officials in Sochi have created special mobile trees and planters to hide the  most unsightly gaps.  People in Sochi are now calling these planting “Potemkin trees” (sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/urodlivye-konstrukcii-nazvali-mobilnymi-derevyami.20131210.71683.html andprivetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/38895.html).
Energy Ministry Rebuffs Efforts to Move Power Station from Kudeptsa. Despite protests and appeals from local residents,the energy ministry says it will not move the power station it has built there because that would impose undue costs on its investors (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234986/).
Olympic Organizers Deploy Snow-Making Equipment Even as First Storm Hits Region.  Sochi organizers are installing 400 snow canons and other snow-making equipment to supplement the snow that they have saved from last winter and the snow that they hope will fall this one.  Some competitors have expressed concerns that the man-made snow will be of a different density than natural snow and thus affect the outcomes of certain sports (rg.ru/2013/12/10/reg-ufo/pushka-anons.html,
Olympic Torch Travails Continue.  As it continues its passage through the Russian Federation, the Olympic torch went out unexpectedly at least three times, sparking derision from some spectators and observer. Some torchbearers used their time in the sportlight to make political points.  And some residents along the way were angry when officials imposed restrictions on the sale of alcohol at the time of the torch’s passing (news.sport-express.ru/2013-12-10/647212/,
Olympics Should Never Have Come to Sochi, Resident Says.  The way in which construction for the Games has been carried out and the amount of money that has been spent on facilities that may never be used again, a Sochi resident says, mean that it would have been far better if the Olympics had never come to Sochi.  Their arrival has transfored the resort into “hell.” Moreover, Moscow’s argument that the games are bringing investment to the region is at a minimum disingenuous: if the region needed investment, it could have been made far more efficiently without the Olympic costs (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/39061.html).
Homeless Animals in Sochi Continue to Suffer.  City officials have not lived up to their promises to build a pound – they are simply rounding up and euthanizing homeless animals – and many workers on Olympic sites when they leave are simply leaving their cats and dogs in trash heaps to die.  A local woman has appealed to all concerned to stop “throwing animals on the street” where they will not long survive and to show by their compassion that they are almost as decent as the animals they have been mistreating (privetsochi.ru/blog/helpanimals/39055.html  Помощь бездомным животным ).
Bad Weather and Bad Roads Mean Construction Workers Must Navigate Icy Roads.  Workers employed on several Olympic sites have to walk three kilometers on icy roads because there is no longer any public transportation available to them. Not only is this leading to delays, but it is also puttiing these workers at serious risk of accidents (facebook.com/SochiWatch/posts/265965960224144).
Moscow Winning Over Circassian Young, Russian Expert Says. Aleksey Vlasov, deputy dean of the historical faculty of Moscow State University, says that unlike a year ago, most young Circassians now reject the history of their nation offered by activists rather than real historians. As a result, they are more supportive of the holding of the Olympics in Sochi (dontr.ru/vesti/obshchestvo/3718704-uchenye-raznykh-stran-obsuzhdali-v-rostove-cherkesskij-vopros).
Sochi Airport Opens VIP Terminal. To no one’s surprise, the Sochi airport has opened a special VIP terminal more or less on time and apparently finished to handle important visitors to the Games (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/234932/).
Sochi Residents Prepare for Mass Protest Against Mayor Pakhomov. The city’s residents have announced plans for a demonstration this coming Sunday against the Sochi mayor because of his failure to do anything about the shutting off of water, heat, and electricity or about protecting them and their interests against the big Olympic contractors (blogsochi.ru/content/pakhomov-chemodan-vokzal-anapa).
Sochi Residency Restrictions May Keep Students from Completing Their Work. Many students at Sochi State University do not have local registration, preferring to go home every two to three months rather than go through the cumbersome process of obtaining official status. That has been no problem in the past, but now with the draconian restrictions on entering Sochi, some of them may face problems in completing their school work without a major break during the time of the Olympiad (privetsochi.ru/blog/school_sochi/39023.html).
Another Drug Den Closed Down in Sochi.  Officials say they have closed down a drug den in the city. Apparenty, the operators of this one were selling hard drugs that they had manufactured themselves (sochi-24.ru/proishestviya/zhitelnicy-sochi-ustroili-priton-na-ulice-plastunskoj.20131211.71742.html).
Will Circassians Be Represented in Olympic Ceremonies?  Sochi Olympic officials say that there will be Chukchis, Daghestanis, and Kuban Cossacks at the opening and closing ceremonies, but so far, they have given no indication that the Circassians will be represented despite the fact that Sochi was at one time the capital of Circassia and that Olympic rules require host countries to acknowledge the contibutions of the local indigenous population (sochi-24.ru/kultura/vo-vremya-olimpiady-na-ulicah-stancuyut-lezginku.20131211.71721.html).
Tkachev Convenes Another Anti-Terrorist Meeting in Sochi.  Aleksandr  Tkachev, the governor of Krasnodar kray, convened another session of his anti-terrorist commission to discuss new steps in providing security for the Games. Press reports gave no details on what they discussed or decided (admkrai.kuban.ru/content/section/11/detail/33062/).
Moscow Agency Warns of Avalanche Threat in Sochi.  Russian officials often worry that there won’t be enough snow, but with the first serious snowfall of the winter, Rssi’s emergencies situation ministry said that avalanches are now possible and that “there is a likelihood of problems with energy supplies, communications, housing services, and transport routes” (indrus.in/news/2013/12/10/sochi_2014_russia_issues_avalanche_warning_in_sochi_mountains_31517.html).
IOC, FIFA Should Take Gay Rights into Consideration in Awarding Sports Venues, Activists Say. Former professional basketball player Jason Collins and tennis champion Martina Navratilova told a UN meeting on the occasion of International Human Rigts Day that international sports organizations should take the state of gay rights in a potential host country into consideration when choosing where to hold competitions (www.startribune.com/world/235258541.html).
Gay Skater May Not Make It to Sochi.  Openly gay New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup who had promised to speak out on gay issues at Sochi may not be at the games atall.  He finished 33rd in the international ranks and thus failed by one spot to qualify for an automatic invitation. He could be asked later. LGBT and rights groups are disappointed because at present, no other male athlete has committed himself to speaking out on Russia’s anti-gay legislation (edgeonthenet.com/news/international/152895/out_gay_skater_on_thin_ice_for_sochi_olympics).
Moscow Will Oppose Any Reference in UN Documents to Rights of Sexual Minorities.  In a clear indication that Moscow has a broader agenda than just protecting children from gay propaganda, the line that President Vladimir Putin has put out, Russian Deputy Foreign Minsiter Gennady Gatilov says that the Russian Federation will oppose the inclusion in UN documents ofany reference to seual orientation. He said that “the term ‘sexual orientation’ does not have a definition in international law” and its use thus opens the way for various interpretations, incuding support for pedophilia (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=53730).
British Foreign Office Advises Gay Actor Not to Travel to Russia.  The British foreign office advised Sir Ian McKellen, who is openly gay, not to travel to Russia because of that country’s anti-gay laws (grani.ru/Culture/Cinema/m.222148.html).
Russian Meteorologists Now Forecasting Demonstrations.  In one of the more perverse moments on Russian television recently, a meteorologist has said that the weather explains the demonstrations in Kyiv because research has shown that “bad wweather incites people to conflict.”  One wonders what such forecasters will predict for Sochi, a city which often is the site of serious storms (bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-25234506).
‘Russia Today’ Will Fulfill Novosti’s Commitments at Sochi, Kiselev Says.  Dmitry Kiselev who heads the agency that Russian President Vladimir Putin created in place of RIA Novosti says that his group will fulfill all the commitments that its predecessor made to the International Olympic Committee (rsport.ru/news_company/20131210/706813427.html).
‘Survival Games’ in Sochi for Some Residents.  Yury Prygunov, a 75-year-old resident of Krasnaya polyana, is featured in a new film about how difficult life has become for Sochi residents since the start of Olympic construction.  The film’s maker says that Prygunov, like many other people there, is engaged in “survival games” and can hope for little more anytime soon (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%8F-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8F%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%B8%D0%B3%D1%80%D1%8B-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%B2%D1%8B%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BE/).
Rounding Up of Illegals Continues; More Seized at Borders.  Russian officials continue to seek out, detain and expel illegal gastarbeiters in Sochi, and border guards continue to arrest some who try to sneak back in because there is still a demand for their work as contractors race to try to complete the Olympic infrastructure (sochinskie-novosti.com/2013/12/10/%D0%B2-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B1%D1%80%D0%B5-%D0%B2-%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B8-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B2%D1%8B%D1%8F%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8-50-%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2/).
Stratfor Publishes Assessment of Sochi Security.  Stratfor, the US-based analytic center, has pubished an assessment of security challenges at Sochi and the moves that Moscow has taken to meet them (stratfor.com/sample/analysis/sochi-2014-security-challenge).
Sochi’s Problems Aren’t So Bad Compared to Other Winter Games, Moscow Analyst Says.  Every Winter Olympics has had difficultie, including overspending and other scandals, and consequently Aleksandr Klyuchnikov suggests, no one should see what is taking place in Sochi as unusual or especially bad (versia.ru/articles/2013/dec/09/proklyatie_beloy_olimpiady).
Moscow Steps Up Pro-Sochi Propaganda among North Caucasians. Russia is trying to generate additional support for the Sochi Olympics by conducting propaganda among North Caucasians and their diaspora communities suggesting that they should take pride in the fact that the games are occurring in their homeland both broadly and narrowly conceived, according to two Russian journalists (rus.ruvr.ru/radio_broadcast/104022426/255115083/).
Russian Says Circassian Bands ‘Killed for Inependent Circassia’ in 1979.  Circassians pressed for the return of their diaspora populations from the early 1970s, but Soviet officials were reluctant to agree because they feared an influx of Islamic radicals.  The Soviets were right, a Russian writer says in criticizing Circassian aspirations now and calls for allow Circassians to return to the North Caucasus from Syria and Jordan, because as early as 1979, an illegal armed formation “killed [people in the North Caucasus] in the name of independent Circassia” (rusplt.ru/society/osmanov_kavkaz.html).
One Circassian in Four Opposes Sochi Games, Poll Shows.  A Russian scholar says that polls in Adygeya suggest that a majority of Circassians support the Sochi Olympiad but that one in four opposes it, a number that he suggested will decline if Moscow makes a  concerted effort to explain the real history of the Circassians and thus dispel the ideas being put out about “a genocide” in 1864 (vestikavkaza.ru/articles/CHerkesy-metamorfoz-vs-transformatsiya.html).
Russian Skier Banned for Two Years Because of Drugs.  Anna Orlovskaya, 18, who was a Russian champion last year and a contender for medals at Sochi, won’t be at the games because she has been banned from competition for two years for breaking anti-doping rules (en.rsport.ru/other_sports/20131209/706669002.html).
Film Documents How Sochi Woman Lost Her Home and Land.  A Russian documentary shown in Moscow traces the sad history in which a Russian woman in Sochi not only lost her home but the land under it as a result of the machinations of Olympic builders and the collusion of officials in violation of Russian law (blogsochi.ru/content/dokumentalnyi-film-ob-olimpiiskom-snose-pokazali-na-vserossiiskm-festivale).
Sochi Official Admits Footbridge in Center of Town Unsafe.  A Sochi official acknowledges that a footbridge in the center of the city should not be used because it was improperly constructed and is unsafe. He said that official had given orders for it to be fixed but thatthese had not been fulfilled and consequently Sochi would soon have no choice but to close down this much-used but unsafe bridge (blogsochi.ru/content/eshche-raz-pro-riverskii-peshekhodnyi-most).
Sochi Residents Continue Fight to Save Their Green Spaces.  Despite games played by Sochi officials, Sochi residents have succeeded in achieving a few victories through a clever use of the courts, the media and demonstrations.  They have not won all  their battles, but their leaders believe that they are going to win more of them, at least in part because officials do not want to face the bad publicity that the activists are capable of generating about them (blogsochi.ru/content/pamyatniki-prirody-istoriya-voiny-za-natsionalnoe-dostoyanie).
Sochi Defender Admits High Costs but Says City Better for Winter Games than Russian North.  A blogger who often writes in defense of the Sochi Olympics says that it is true that the road built to carry peopllel from Sochi to the Olympic venue in Adler did cost more than the flight to Mars, but he says that that is all right because “this is not a normal road,” but one with tunnels and bridges.  In another comment, he says that the subtropical city is the perfect site for a Winter Olympiad because places in the Russian North would simply be too cold for competitions (ruxpert.ru/Мифы_об_Олимпиаде_в_Сочи).
Despite Gaps, Sochi Now More Accessible than It Was, Paralympic Officials Say. Sochi is far better prepared to receive people with physical handicaps for the Paralympic Games than it was only a year ago, despite “numerous and at times even curious” gaps and shortcomings in the construction program.  Given the base from which that program started, officials say, Sochi is a model for other Russian cities which have done far less (privetsochi.ru/blog/photo/38846.html ).
Sochi Orthodox Church, Built at Top Speed with Taxpayer Funds, to Open on Christmas.  A new Russian Orthodox Church that officials originally claimed was being finance by private contributors but in fact has been paid for by the government will open by the end of December because of a special “shockwork” program of construction, officials say. Many residents are angry that their taxes are going for this and that the Church is being finished even though many of the facilities they use are not (sochi-24.ru/obshestvo/pervaya-sluzhba-v-olimpijskom-hrame-sostoitsya-v-rozhdestvo.2013129.71640.html and sochi-24.ru/ekonomika/byudzhetnyj-hram-rpc-stroitsya-udarnymi-tempami.2013816.66811.html).
Georgian Airlines to Resume Tbilisi-Sochi Flights Before Olympiad.  Airzena has announced that it will resume flights between the Georgian capital and the Olympic city on February 4 to accommodate Olympic visitors (sochi-24.ru/turizm/tbilisi-i-sochi-vozobnovlyayut-pryamoe-aviasoobshenie.2013129.71645.html).
Russian Ambassador to Canada Says He Hopes Canadian Hockey Team Loses at Sochi.  Georgy Mamedov, Russian ambassador to Ottawa, says that he is “quite confident” that Russia will win the gold in hockey at Sochi and consequently he said he “vehemently wish[es] you failure” in that competition (calgarysun.com/2013/12/07/russian-ambassador-wishes-team-canada-failure-at-olympics).
Ukrainian Biathlon Winners Put ‘For the Maidan!’ on Their Flag.  Having won a biathlon competition in Austria, Ukrainian athletes wrote “For the Maidan!” on the Ukrainian flag they carried,an indication of their support for the demonstrations that seek a European orientation for their country (tatar-centr.blogspot.com/2013/12/blog-post_5090.html).
Sochi Olympics May Not Be Able to Attract Enough Doctors.  Officials say they will pay doctors who come to Sochi a total of only 11,750 rubles (400 US dollars) a day for salary and expenses if they come to the games to help out.  Given that a mid-range hotel costs 9,000 rubles (300 US dollars) a day, many may decide that this is not worth their time.  What this highlights is the proclivity of Russian officials to pay for glitzy things that will show up well on television but neglect essential services (blogsochi.ru/content/prozhorlivye-vrachi-ili-gostepriimnye-rvachi).
Tkachev Offends Sochi Residents with Slighting Remarks.  Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr  Tkachev said that Sochi and environs were “unpromising places” and “unattractive” until Olympic construction began, words that have offended many longtime Sochi residents who have always insisted that their city is beautiful (blogsochi.ru/content/aleksandr-tkachev-na-otkrytii-%C2%ABazimut-hotel-sochi%C2%BB).
Film Kremlin Tried to Block Shown Only Once in Russia.  The film, “Putin’s Games,” which documents corruption, waste, and authoritarian methods in the lead up to the Sochi Games and which the Kremlin tried to buy off its producers in the hopes that it would never be shown, has in fact been screened in Russia but so far only one time (m.si.com/3663337/film-casts-harsh-light-on-putin-build-up-to-sochi/).
Putin ‘Playing with Fire. Olympic Fire,’ KPRF Commentator Says.  Russian President Vladimir Putin is “playing with fire. Olympic fire,” something that everyone knows is dangerous, Aleksey Parfyonov says.  As the Olympiad shows, the Kremlin leader is creating “two Russias,” one wealthy and cossetted and a second and much larger one whose needs and rights are ignored by the first.  Although he says he doesn’t want to draw a parallel between Sochi 2014 and Berlin 1936, the commentator suggests that there are some ways in which one cannot avoid doing so (gazeta-pravda.ru/content/view/16535/34/).
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