WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 2 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 2 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 48th special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowledge or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is paul.goble@gmail.com  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
Putin Promises to Do Everything Necessary for Sochi Security…  President Vladimir Putin said he will do everything to provide for a secure Olympiad while trying to ensure that “the security measures taken aren’t too intrusive or visible and that they won’t put pressure on the athletes, guests and journalists.” He added that “we will do our best to ensure that these measures are efficient.” ”If we allow ourselves to show weakness and fear, display our fear, then we will be helping the terrorists to achieve their goals” and called for international cooperation against terrorism (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-olympics/news/20140117/sochi-olympics-security-vladimir-putin.ap/).
… Denies Any Corruption in Sochi and Says Price Increases Reflected Improvements … President Vladimir Putin said that he has not seen any “manifestation of corruption” in the preparation for the games and that the only prices that have risen from their original estimates were those where improvements were made along the way (http://www.privetsochi.ru/blog/OlympicRu/40681.html and vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/22364-prichiny-udorozhanija-olimpijskoj-strojki-svjazany-s-kachestvom-jekspertizy-i-dejstvijami-podrjadchikov).
… Argues Sochi Games Not about Him but About Russia’s Recovery from 1991 …President Vladimir Putin said that the Sochi Olympics are not “about [his] personal ambitions.” The competition is instead “about the direct and concentrated interest of the state and our people” who “after the collapse of the Soviet Union, after the tough and bloody events in the Caucasus” were in “a pitiful and pessimistic state. We need to shake that off. We need to understand and to feel that we can ulfill large tasks.”  The Sochi Olympics are thus “a triumph of Russia” (sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-olympics/news/20140117/sochi-olympics-security-vladimir-putin.ap/ and http://blogsochi.ru/content/vladimir-putin-schitaet-fakt-provedeniya-olimpiady-v-sochi-triumfom-rossii).
… Says Gays Will Be Welcome But Must ‘Leave Children in Peace’ … President Vladiimir Putin said gay athletes and fans will be welcome and can be “at ease” in Sochi as long as they “leave children in peace, please.”  He also said in his ABC interview that “acts of protest and acts of propaganda are somewhat different things” and that those criticizing Russia for its laws should realize that many in their own countries agree with Moscow’s position.  He suggested that in some American states homosexuality was still a crime, something his interviewer pointed out is not the case. And he said he had “no reaction” about US President Barack Obama’s decision to include openly gay people in the US delegation.  At the same time, the Russian president may have lost as much as he gained by his statements because he lumped homosexuality and pedophilia in the same category (therainbowtimesmass.com/2014/01/20/sochi-2014-putin-adds-fuel-controversy/ andsports.nationalpost.com/2014/01/17/sochi-2014-one-can-feel-relaxed-and-at-ease-but-please-leave-the-children-in-peace-russias-vladimir-putin-says-of-propaganda-law/).
… Not Worried about Any Boycott or Empty Seats … President Vladimir Putin said that he does not think anyone believes in a boycott and that he is therefore not concerned there will be one. He also said he is sure that he will be able to fill all the seats at Sochi even if not all the tickets are sold. “Why should places go empty?” Putin asked rhetorically (ria.ru/sochi2014_around_games/20140119/990051730.html).
… Urges Sochi Volunteers to Display Humor and Patience …  At a meeting with Russian volunteer workers in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin called on them to display “humor, patience, professionalism and perseverance” because “these emotions form the very atmosphere of the games” (blogsochi.ru/content/vladimir-putin-vstretilsya-s-volonterami-predstoyashchei-olimpiady-v-sochi).
… And Adds He Won’t Make a Bet about the Games with Obama.  President Vladimir Putin said that he and US President Barack Obama will not be making any bets over the outcome of the games. “We never make bets like that,” he said (olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2014/01/19/vladimir-putin-barack-obama-olympic-bets-sochi/).
Medvedev Says Security Threats to Sochi No Greater than at Other Olympiads.Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that “threat at the Sochi Olympiad are no greater than they have been at Olympic Games in other places.”  He adds that Russian officials are “absolutely certain that we will be able to defend all sportsmen … and we are tryingto conduc the Olympic Games in a very good way.” Medvedev says that Russia has a great deal of experience in fighting terrorism and that for the games it is using not only that background but is cooperating “with our partners,” including the Americans . “We inite everyone to watch the Games and those who hve purchased a ticket to come to Russia as see everything in person”  (itar-tass.com/politika/906655).
Email Threats to Olympic Countries Dismissed as Hoax. IOC officials said that emails sent to at least five European countries threatening them with violence if they take part in the Sochi Olympics were a hoax sent by someone outside of Russia who has sent similar messages before. Nonetheless, various commentators suggested that even if these messages were  a hoax, they have put many people on edge and may cut attendance at the Sochi Olympiad (uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/sochi-2014-hungary-olympic-committee-gets-sochi-terrorist-091847624–spt.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237058/, and bigstory.ap.org/article/hungary-nations-get-threat-about-sochi-attacks).
Russian Officials Search for ‘Black Widow’ Terrorists in Sochi.  Russian security officials said they were searching for three or four female Islamist terrorists who may be operating in Sochi.  There were discrepancies in Russian reporting about how many such “black widows” may be there, how long they have been operating, and whether the photographs the Russian officials released were new and accurate (blogsochi.ru/content/terroristka-smertnitsa-razyskivaetsya-v-olimpiiskom-sochi ,blogsochi.ru/content/ob-otbytii-iz-dagestana-terroristki-smertnitsy-v-gorod-sochi,blogsochi.ru/content/v-sochi-est-veroyatnost-nakhozhdeniya-terroristki-smertnitsy andkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237040/).
Obama Offers Putin Assistance for Sochi Security.  US President Barack Obama in a telephone call offered Russian President Vladimir Putin American assistance to promote security at Sochi.  US and Russian officials discussed what that aid might look like but Moscow has not yet indicated that it is prepared to accept any such assistance beyond intelligence sharing. Many US officials have expressed skepticism that Moscow would ever agree to any on-the-ground aid. Several US congressmen have expressed equal skepticism about how much information Moscow is prepared to share with the West on terrorism and Sochi  (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237041/, kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237039/,nytimes.com/2014/01/22/world/europe/us-offers-russia-high-tech-aid-to-thwart-sochi-terror.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236907/, and mobile.nytimes.com/2014/01/20/world/europe/us-congressmen-raise-concerns-about-security-at-sochi-olympics.html?emc=edit_tnt_20140120&tntemail0=y&_r=0&referrer=).
US to Send Two Ships to Black Sea for Sochi Evacuation in the Event of Need.  The US Department of Defense says that Washington is sending two navy ships to a location in the Black Sea near Sochi so that they would be available to evacuate Americans in the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236973/,utro.ru/articles/2014/01/21/1169868.shtml and theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/20/us-plans-evacuation-sochi-olympics-terror-attack).
US Participation at Sochi Would Be Threatened by Combination of Three Things, Former NSC Aide Says. Juan Zarate, a former US deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism who now serves as senior advisor at the CSIS in Washington, says that no one wants to see Olympic disrupted and that only a combination of three conditions would lead the US to consider pulling out: “a very serious, credible set of threats directed at U.S. athletes or at venues that U.S. athletes would be attending, combined with a sense that the Russians aren’t sharing enough information about what’s being done to counter it and a sense that we have an inability to counter it ourselves.” In that event “and so if there’s a real sense of serious risk to our athletes that is imminent, that is material, and that can’t be countered, then you would start to see a discussion in the Situation Room around what is to be done” (csis.org/files/attachments/142101_TS_csis-sochi.pdf).
Medvedev Says He has ‘No Data’ about Sochi Corruption.  Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that he has no information about corruption in Sochi, adding that one can assess whether there is any onlyif evidence is presented.  He says that he does not think there will be any indication of massive corruption, although he said there may have been some problems. On another subject, he indicates that the total cost of the Sochi Games is close to 56 billion US dollars, 50  billion for infrastructure and six billion more for the Games themselves. Those figures are higher than the ones Russian President Vladimir Putin has been citing (itar-tass.com/politika/906623).
Washington Post Says IOC Put Athletes and Fans at Risk by Awarding Games to Sochi.  Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist for “The Washington Post” says that the IOC “jeopardized the safety of athletes and fans in awarding the Games to Putin’s Russia.”  The Sochi Games, she continues, are “already a catastrophe and if [they] become a tragedy too, it will be because the IOC has become the tool of ‘colossal authoritarian branding,’ to borrow a phrase from Russia scholar Leon Aron. The choice is an ugly one: Removing the Games at this late date would devastate Russians who have invested national self-worth in them, and the athletes who have trained for them. Therefore the only option is to watch Sochi become a contest for prestige between two warring parties: a corrupt strongman who wants to flex his political authority, and the murderous jihadists who have vowed to strike in Sochi. Why should the Olympics lend its prestige to either? But that’s exactly what’s happening” (washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/sochi-2014-ioc-jeopardized-safety-of-athletes-and-fans-in-awarding-games-to-putins-russia/2014/01/22/3c5427a8-83aa-11e3-8099-9181471f7aaf_print.html).
Sochi Receiving ‘Harsher’ Judgments than Putin Expected, NY Times Says.  Steven Lee Myers of “The New York Times” says that “if, as Putin has said, hosting the Olympics is ajudgment on Russia, then so far the judgment has been a harsher one than he expected” (nytimes.com/2014/01/26/magazine/putins-olympic-fever-dream.html?_r=1).
Most Countries Participating in Sochi Relying on Russia for Security But Some are Taking Steps Themselves. Most of the countries sending teams to Sochi say they are worried about security but are relying on Russian officials to take care of the situation.  A few, however, are developing their own security plans or hiring special security contractors,, including the US and the United Kingdom (themoscowtimes.com/sochi2014/Olympic-Teams-Prepare-for-Possible-Security-Crisis-in-Sochi.html).
German Olympic Uniforms Called ‘Silent Protest’ Against Moscow’s Anti-LGBT Law. German competitors at Sochi will wear rainbow-colored uniforms, something that many commentators are describing as “a silent protest” against Russian anti-gay legislation especially since many German athletes have openly condemned the Russian law (ftw.usatoday.com/2013/10/german-olympians-will-wear-rainbow-colored-uniforms-in-sochi/).
IOC Says Circassian Culture to be Part of Sochi Festivities.  In an email to Circassian organizations, te IO says that “elements of Circassian culture are already part of Sochi’s 2014 cultural festival.”  Circassian activists welcome that if it is true but note that Moscow has yet to talk about these elements or to indicate just how they will be incorporated in the Olympic celebration (huffingtonpost.com/merissa-khurma/the-sochi-connection_b_4046063.html).
United Russia Deputy Comes Close to Acknowledging Genocide, Admits Most Circassians Oppose Sochi Games.  In a wide-ranging interview in which he praised the Circassians for their unique ability to resist Russia’s military advance in the Caucasus and noted their continuing problems with Moscow, Adalbi Shkhagohev, a United Russia deputy in the Russian State Duma, said that he did not want to use the word “genocide” to describe “the human and historical tragedy” that happened in 1864 because of current considerations. But his comments leave no doubt that he puts the blame for the ethnically specific tragedy of tsarist Russian forces. He also acknowledged that the majority of Circassians oppose staging the Olympiad on the site of that tragedy although he said he was not among their number (kavpolit.com/ya-ne-otnoshu-sebya-k-tem-kto-schitaet-chto-olimpiadu-provodit-ne-nuzhno/#comment-359463 ).
Circassians Made Great Progress as a Nation Last Year, Analyst Says.  Despite Russian policies “infected by imperialism and colonialism,” the Circassians made progress during 2013 in coming together as a people and advancing their interests, according to Tamerlan Urusov, a legal specialist.They have not yet won the war, he continued, but they did win at least some of the battles and are now better positioned to move forward after Sochi (echo.msk.ru/blog/civilt/1240740-echo/).
Circassians Attracting More Western Media Attention.  Although Circassian organizations did not succeed in getting any country to boycott the games, they have been receiving far more attention from the Western media in recent weeks, with ever more journalists discussing the genocide and Russia’s unwillingness to face up to its history (businessinsider.com/photos-of-sochi-russias-forgotten-circassian-people-2014-1 ,yahoo.com/photos/sochi-s-indigenous-people-1390329883-slideshow/,cnn.com/2014/01/23/opinion/martin-olympics-circassians/index.html?hpt=op_t1  andblogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2014/01/21/searching-for-circassians/).
German Greens Leader Urges World Not to Forget What Happened to Circassians at Sochi. Cem Ozdemir, the leader of the Greens faction in the German Bundestag, says that the international community must not allow the euphoria of Olympic competition to cause them to forget the horrific crimes inflicted by Russian authorities on the Circassian nation there in 1864 (aheku.org/news/diaspora/5066 ).
Sochi Officials Launch Campaign to Kill Homeless Animals. Concerned that homeless animals will be a problem for visitors and having let a 2.5 million ruble (90,000 US dollar) contract for their removal, Sochi officials have begun shooting homeless dogs and cats in the streets. Animal rights activists and ordinary people are horrified and have launched a counter-effort to adopt or to find at least temporary homes for these unfortunates.  What makes this situation especially appalling is that the Sochi city government had earlier promised to build a shelter for animals: that has not happened (privetsochi.ru/blog/dogs/40731.html and etp-micex.ru/auction/catalog/view/auctionId/277283/backurl/L2F1Y3Rpb24vY2F0YWxvZy9hbGw5NC8jL3NlYXJjaC8lMjVEMSUyNTgxJTI1RDAlMjVCRSUyNUQxJTI1ODclMjVEMCUyNUI4L3BhZ2UvNC8=/).
Olympic Torch Travails Continue.  The Sochi Olympic torch continued its passage with all the same problems it has had in the past, but this week, people along the path were especially disturbed by the extent to which they were discommoded by official behavior and security arrangements in Volgograd, by the detention of a leading television journalist in Taganrog, by the arrest of opposition figures in Rostov before the torch passed, and by the detention of a gay activist who tried to hold up a rainbow pride flag (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236985/,kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236911/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237066/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237013/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236950/buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/russian-lgbt-activist-detained-after-unfurling-pride-flag,  olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2014/01/18/gay-protester-sochi-olympic-torch-relay-russia/,  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236915/ and  kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236852/).
Kozak Says Almost Everything is Ready But Photographs Show Otherwise.  Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak says that 11 of the 13 Olympic venues is ready, with the other two awaiting certification, but he did not say that Fisht Stadium where the opening ceremony is to slated to be held is in fact near completion.  Photographs posted online, however, show that much of the infrastructure is still incomplete or so badly installed that it is likely to create problems even before the end of the competitions (themoscowtimes.com/sochi2014/Not-a-Single-Complaint-About-Sochi-Preparations.htmlprivetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/40614.html,privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40609.htmlprivetsochi.ru/blog/auto_sochi/40587.html,blogsochi.ru/content/tsentr-sochi-za-16-dnei-do%E2%80%A6,blogsochi.ru/content/pozemnyi-perekhod-u-tts-%C2%ABnovyi-vek%C2%BB-v-adlere and blogsochi.ru/content/predolimpiiskii-sochi).
HRW Says Moscow Will Launch Even Harsher Crackdown after Sochi.  As horrific as Moscow’s moves against the civil and human rights of its people in the run-up to Sochi, Human Rights Watch’s Tatyana Lokshina says, her organization expects the crackdown to intensify after international attention turns away from Russia at the conclusion of the games.  She expressed particular concern about theNorth Caucasus where Moscow, having failed to pacify the situation so far, is likely to adopt even more violent and punitive measures (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237068/).
Moscow Bank Restructuring of Sochi Debt.  Russia’s Vneshekonombank is restructuring more than half of the debt incurred by companies involved in Sochi construction, extending the loan period and thus reducing the burden on these institutions.  The owners of many of them had been complaining and this restructuring should keep them quiet until after the games when the Russian authorities may either be forced to forgive much of the debt or otherwise allow the companies who were involved to escape full repayment for what arebecoming non-performing loans (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237054/).
Sochi Organizing Committee Publishes Rules for Olympic Fans.  The Sochi 2014 Olympic Organizing Committee has posted online a list of rules that fans must follow while at the games. Most are quite ordinary for major events, but some are intended to stifle any possibility of dissent. Officials say that violators will be removed from the venue and in severe cases stripped of their fan passports and thus of the possibility of attending any future events at Sochi (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237044/).
Moscow Wants to Extend Ban on Liquids on Planes Past Olympiad.  In an indication that many of the rules Moscow has imposed in advance of the games may continue well after it, the Russian transportation ministry as that it wants to extend the unpopular ban on passemgers carrying any liquids, including medicines, at least until April 1 (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236919/).
Gref Seeks a Las Vega Future for Sochi.  German Gref, head of Moscow’s Sberbank, is pushing to develop casinos and other gambling facilities in the southern Russian city as a way to attract visitors and thus help those who have invested in Sochi recoup their money and make a profit. Many Russians are asking whose “pocket” Gref is in or most worried about (news.mail.ru/economics/16607311/).
Suffering of Sochi Residents Epitomized by Tragedy of One Older Woman.  Many residents of Sochi have suffered during the construction of Olympic facilities, but perhaps none has done so more that Nadezhda Kukharenko, an older woman who has had to choose to give up heat in order to be able to buy food and has not been able to get to stores because of her infirmity and the collapse of public transit in her part of the city.  Her case, portrayed on a video clip, has attracted attention from around Russia. She is, as the video says, truly “outside the games” (blogsochi.ru/content/babushka-vne-igr).
Kozak’s Claims on Air Quality Belied by Official Russian Statistics. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak’s claims that Olympic construction had improved air quality in Sochi by a factor of two are false as will be clear to anyone who looks around. But they are also undercut by official Russian government statistics which show that air quality in the Olympic city has in fact deteriorated and in some cases now represents a clear threat to public health (blogsochi.ru/content/sochi-2014-mif-ob-%C2%ABochishchennom%C2%BB-olimpiiskom-vozdukhe ).
Sochi isn’t Ready for Visitors, Valov Says.  Aleksandr Valov, the editor of Blogsochi.ru, says that anyone who walks through Sochi will see that official claims of readiness of the games are overstated.  Many facilities are either unfinished or slapped together in a sloppy and unsafe way, roads and sidewalks are either incomplete or already disintegrating because they were not built properly, and piles of trash have been left in public places without any sign that they are going to be hauled away in the two weeks left before opening ceremonies (blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiada-cherez-zadnitsu ).
Sochi Doesn’t Have Local or Self-Administration, Residents Complain.  Sochi does not have “local government” or “self-administration” despite what the Russian Constitution promises. Instead, they insist, it is run from the outside without their interests ever being taken into accout (blogsochi.ru/content/sochinskoe-ne-mestnoe-ne-samoupravlenie-0).
Moscow’s Spending on Power Backups for Games Infuriates Sochi Residents Living without Power.  Russian officials say they are spending 20 million US dollars to provide back up power supplies in case the power grid fails during the games.  Residents are outraged because these same officials have done nothing to keep the power on regularly in their neighborhoods. Most have suffered some power outages over the last two years, and many have not had power, heat or water for long periods (blogsochi.ru/content/energiya-olimpiady-polmilliarda-rublei-v-topku).
Georgia to Send Delegation to Sochi But Continues Criticism of Moscow on Abkhazia. Georgia announced its plans to send a delegation of 19 to the Sochi Olympiad, but Tbilisi officials took the occasion to denounced the latest illegal move of the border between Russia and Georgia 11 kilometers deeper into Georgian territory and said that Georgian sovereignty represented a red line that it was not prepared to cross in order to improve relations with Moscow (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237008/ and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236939/).
Lavrov ‘Values’ Tbilisi’s Offer of Security Assistance but Condemns Its Refusal to Recognize Post-2008 ‘Realities.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Moscow “values” Georgia’s offer of security assistance for Sochi but adds that Georgia’s continuing refusal to recognize “the realities” that emerged after August 2008 “constrains” the improvement of relations (civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=26877).
Investigators Call for BlogSochi Editor to Appear January 27. Angry at Aleksandr Valov’s reporting about official malfeasance, government investigators in Sochi have ordered the BlogSochi editor to appear before them on January 27. They say he is being questioned about possible criminal charges. Whether that is true or not, the timing of this notice suggests it is intended as an act of intimidation designed to keep him from working as more attention turns to the Olympic city (blogsochi.ru/content/glavred-saita-aleksandr-valov-vyzvan-v-sledstvennyi-komitet-v-krasnodar-na-280114-goda ).
Footbridge May Not Be Save But It’s Not Our Problem, City Officials Say.  In November, BlogSochi.ru pointed out that a footbridge many visitors to the city may use is unsafe because it has been improperly constructed. Now officials have responded with an official letter saying that the bridge may not be safe but that they are not responsible for ensuring that it is (blogsochi.ru/content/%C2%ABvykhodit-za-predely-polnomochii-gosudarstvennogo-stroitelnogo-nadzora%C2%BB).
Not All Sochi Signs are Properly Transliterated into English.  Many Russians involved in making road signs for Sochi clearly do not know English and thus are transliterating the Cyrillic alphabet into Latin script incorrectly. One sign pointing to an Olympic venue, for example, renders Krasnaya Polyana in Russian as Krasnaya lolyana in English (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/40778.html).
Sochi Contractors Put Obstacles on Tacticle Paths for Those with Sight Problems. More than any other Russian city although far less than many non-Russian ones, Sochi has installed facilities for handicapped people in preparation for the Paralympics which follow the Olympiad. One of the biggest efforts has been to put down tacticle strips to guide those who are blind or have difficulty seeing. Unfortunately, some Sochi contractors have shown no respect for these strips, scraping them off or even putting physical obstacles on them which would block anyone using them to guide his or her way (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/40823.html).
Yarst Now Reporting for URA.ru. Nikolay Yarst, an embattled Sochi journalist, has prepared a report on conditions in Sochi for the URA.ru news agency, detailing what visitors to the city can expect and warning them against doing certain things. He says that visitors should know that “local residents for a long time have been waiting not for the Olympics but for the time when they will be able to return to their accustomed way of life and they hope that bureaucrats will fulill their promises” and actually bring gas and electricity to their houses. Yarst’s next court date is January 29  (blogsochi.ru/content/%C2%ABvidish-vse-eto-i-ponimaesh-gostyam-zdes-ne-rady%C2%BB and blogsochi.ru/content/v-krasnodarskom-krae-sledstvie-po-delu-zhurnalista-nikolaya-yarsta-prodleno-do-29-yanvarya).

Sochi’s Toiletgate Scandal.  A BBC journalist photographed a strange arrangement in a Sochi facility: two toilets in a single stall. His pictures, which he almost immediately had to deny having created by photoshop, hve gone viral and sparked comments like “while it might be nice to get to know your competitors a little better, this is surely far too cosy to catch on and has already been attacked as a waste of money. Oops” (metro.co.uk/2014/01/21/what-a-waste-of-money-why-are-there-two-toilets-in-one-cubicle-at-sochi-2014-4270988/).

Moscow is ‘Prepared for Beslan But Not Smaller-Scale Attacks.’  Mark Galleoti, an NYU, specialist on Russian crime and security, says that Russian officials in Sochi “are prepared for  Beslan but not a smaller-scale attack.”  His words echo those of Andrey Soldatov, Russia’s leading independent expert on that country’s intelligence services, who says that Moscow has transformed Sochi  “into a fortress” because officials have “confused control with security.” To counter terrorism, they should be focusing on intelligence instead. No matter how many troops are on the ground, he suggests, terrorists can find a way around them (washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russian-olympic-terrorist-search-sets-nerves-jangling-despite-putin-assurances-of-safety/2014/01/21/c0bd2a1a-82cb-11e3-bbe5-6a2a3141e3a9_story.html).
Ukrainian Violence Linked to Sochi Games. Jiri and Leni Valenta, two American specialists on foreign affairs, says that “linkages exist between the ongoing peaceful-turned violent demonstration in Ukraine and Chechen threats to the Olympics.”  At the very least, concerns about Sochi security have distracted the attention of many from what is going on in Ukraine and thus opened the way for the crackdown there (linkedin.com/groups/UKRAINE-TURNS-VIOLENT-AMIDST-TERRORIST-4473529.S.5831041383892267008?view=&gid=4473529&type=member&item=5831041383892267008&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_nd-pst_ttle-cn).
In Advance of Sochi, Adygeya Sets Up Special Security Group.  The police in the Republic of Adygeya have established a special group to ensure law and order in the mountainous portions of that Circassian republic.  Because the terrain is so rough, the group will be using helicopters and drones to monitor the situation there (vestikavkaza.ru/news/V-Adygee-zarabotala-gornaya-politsiya.html).
Islamic Militant Group Warns of Sochi ‘Surprise’ if Moscow
Doesn’t Withdraw from Caucasus.  An Islamic militant group said
that it would violently disrupt the Olympics with a “Sochi surprise” if
Moscow does not withdraw its “occupation” forces from the North
Caucasus. In a video statement, the group, Ansar al-Sunna, also
caliimed responsibility for the Volgograd bombings last month. Neither
Russian nor Western officials have yet concluded whether the threat or
the claim is credible, but this latest development has increased attention
to the danger of violence in the region around Sochi (vdagestan.com/zay
Sochi Security Zone Extended into Abkhazia. Part of Abkhazia will be included in the Sochi security
zone with special checkpoints set up and passes required, officials there said. That development will
simultaneously anger Abkhazians who have seen many restrictions but few benefits from the games and
Georgians who will view this as the latest Russian attack on their sovereignty (eurasianet.org/node/67956
No One has Yet Applied to Use Protest Areas, Sochi Officials Say. Officials in the Sochi mayor’s office
say that no one has yet applied for a permit to use the special protest zone that Russian officials have set
up in Khosta, seven miles from the nearest Olympic venues, to allow Moscow to suggest that it will tolerate demonstrations.  One local activist, Yevggeny Vitishko, expressed pessimism about the future. He told “The New York Times”that “the civil socity that could have gotten together at a place like this has already been destroyed” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/world/europe/intensive-security-for-winter-olympics.html?_r=0).
HRW Describes Protest Zones as ‘Potemkin Villages.’  Jane Buchanan, deputy director of Human Rights
Watch for Europe and Central Asia, says that the special protest zones Russian officials have set aside are
nothing more than the latest iteration of the old idea of “Potemkin villages,” designed to fool outsiders by
covering up a sorry reality (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236800/).
Police in Sochi from St. Petersburg Get Drunk, Try to Go Home. In order to boost security in the Olympic
city, Moscow has pulled police from across the Russian Federation, but many of those sent to the region are
unhappy about going there. One group of St. Petersburg policemen became drunk and tried to return home,
forcing other police to detain them and prevent them from deserting their posts, an indication that not all
those charged with providing security in the Olympic city are enthusiastic about their responsibilities (rosbalt.ru/piter/2014/01/16/1221652.html).
FIFA Head Who Said Racism Can be Overcome with a Handshake Says Sochi Opens Door to
Reconciliation.
Sepp Blatter, FIFA resident, opposes a boycott of the Sochi Games because of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
The Olympiad, he says, is a good opportunity for dialogue on the issue and “a refusal” to take part in the
Games is a refusal to have a dialogue. “We must fight every form of social exclusion. Anyone who decides
to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi will be surrendering on this important issue, just as anyone
running away from a problem will never be able to resolve it, he said (edition.cnn.com/2014/01/17/sport/
Violence in North Caucasus Continues. Nine people were wounded in a terror bombing in Daghestan
this week, one of several militant attacks there and elsewhere in the North Caucasus over the last seven
days. Although these attacks have not attracted the level of attention that the deadly Volgograd bombings
did, they are a reminder that the area around Sochi is anything but stable (abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/kadyrov-rebel-leader-threatened-sochi-dead-21563748).
Chinese Leader Will Attend Sochi Opening Ceremony.  The president of the Chinese Peoples Republic
has announced that he will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Sochi. He becomes the first
major foreign leader who says he will take part in that event (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236912/).
Sochi Policeman Sued for Beating Comes Up with New Witnesses.  A lawyer for a man who is suing a
former Sochi policeman for damages resulting from the beating he received last April says that he is “not
especially surprised” that now the case is going to trial, those supporting the policemen have brought “new
witnesses” to the courtroom, even though none of these were involved in the investigation which found for
the man who was beaten (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236841/).
More Gaps in Sochi Security Identified.  Sochi residents say that despite all the security in their city,
there are gaps on the rail lines and roads that terrorists could exploit (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236776/ and privetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/40669.html).
Stockholm Won’t Bid for 2022 Winter Games Because of High Costs. Sweden’s ruling party said their
country won’t bid for the 2022 winter games because of the high costs involved and because many of the
venues which would have to be built have no use after the games, a reaction to and judgment on what has
Russian Officials Denounce ‘Apocalyptic’ Commentaries on Sochi by VOA and RFE/RL. A Russian
commentator has lashed out at what he calls “apocalyptic predictions” by the US radio stations about
what will or could happen at Sochi. Their programs, he said, in terms that recall Soviet times, are internally
flawed because they complain both about the security measures Moscow has adopted and the security
Moscow Gay Club Owner Says Anti-LGBT Law May Have Unexpectedly and Unintentionally Positive Impact.  Andrey Tanichev, who owns Moscow’s only gay club, told Deutsche Welle that Russia’s anti-gay
law, as draconian and wrong as it is, has had the effect of raising the issue of gay rights in Russia, formerly
a completely taboo subject, and consequently could lead to some improvement in his country in the future (blogsochi.ru/content/vladelets-gei-kluba-v-sochi-%22voobshche-ya-protiv-gei-klubov%22-deutsche-welle-
Workers Conclude Large Dacha is for Medvedev When Told to Finish by Opening of Games.
Construction workers who have been told that they are working on a resort facility have concluded that
in fact they are building a dacha for Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev because they have been
ordered to complete work before the opening ceremonies. Their comments reflect both the failure of
contractors to finish work on key sites in Sochi and the efforts of officials to hide what many facilities
Chechen Leader Says Doku Umarov has Been Killed But No One Confirms That.Chechen President
Ramzan Kadyrov says that Doku Umarov, the North Caucasian militant who earlier threatened to use
violence to prevent or explode the Sochi Olympiad has been killed. Neither Russian nor Western officials
have confirmed that.  At the same time, Kadyrov points out that even if Umarov has been killed, that in
and of itself would not mean the end of the terrorist threat in the region and to the games
Security Concerns, High Prices Keep Sochi Ticket Sales Slow. Even members of the IOC say that sales
of tickets for the Sochi Olympiad have been slow, the result they and others say of concerns about security
in Sochi and the high costs of getting there. At present, about 30 percent of the seats remain unsold:
President Vladimir Putin says he will fill them with volunteers if need be to guarantee full houses (world.time.com/2014/01/21/sochi-olympics-faces-prospect-of-empty-seats/).
Fewer than Two Percent of Sochi Olympic Buildings are Green – and Even Those Aren’t Fully So.
Only six o the 352 buildings put up for the Olympics meet green standards over all, and those six, experts
say, do not meet the international standards in every detail. The IOC had required and Moscow had
promised that all Olympic buildings would meet these standards. That has not happened at all
Sochi Residents ‘Praise’ Electric Supplier for Keeping Russian Curse Words and Lies Alive.
Sochi residents are so angry at the local electricity supplier, Kubanenergo, that some of them say the
only good thing they can about that company is that its lies and failure to supply electricity as and when
promised are helping to keep alive Russian curse words and lying (privetsochi.ru/blog/Wailing_wall/40706.
Regions Near Sochi Told Internet Will Be Slow During Games.  One indication of the thinness of Russian
Internet connectivity and possibly of Russian monitoring of visitors to the Sochi Olympiad is that some
residents in nearby areas have been told to expect that Internet speeds will slow down during the
Sochi Maps for Visitors Not Accurate.  Local people say that the maps visitors to Sochi are being given
are not accurate. Some of the divergence from reality may reflect efforts to present a lot of information in
a limited space, but some of it may be a product of a longstanding Russian tradition of not providing maps
that are entirely correct lest someone use that information against the state (privetsochi.ru/blog/FOTO/
Sochi Residents No Longer to Have ‘Power Outages’ — They Face ‘Prophylactic Tests’without Power.
 For months, Sochi residents have been informed by the media that one or another of their neighborhoods
will be without power because of construction or accidents.  But that is now a thing of the past, especially
since Moscow officials insist that everything is in readiness. From now on, they will only have to deal with
“prophylactic tests,” although these too will leave them without power (blogsochi.ru/content/informatsiya-
Sochi Residents told Not to Hang Underwear on Balconies During Games.  Sochi city officials have
asked residents not to hang underwear to dry on the balconies of apartment buildings during the games.
The request is part of a general effort to improve how the city looks(blogsochi.ru/content/%C2%ABv-svyaz
Sochi Residents Face Two New Challenges: All-Night Construction and Forbidden Zones. In addition
to power, heat and water outages which continue despite official denials, Sochi residents this week faced
two new challenges: noisy all-night construction as contractors try to complete the work that officials say
is already done and the imposition of unexpected forbidden zones that cut them off from work, school, or
Rumor Spreads that Sochi Residents Will Get Medal for Surviving Olympics. A rumor is circulating in
Sochi that residents will be presented a medal “For Patriotism” for putting up with all the problems associated
with construction of Olympic facilities and the influx of crowds for the games themselves (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40599.html).
Religious Missionary Activity Prohibited During Sochi Games.  Russia’s Inter-Religious Council says
that while there will be facilities in Sochi for prayer and services, no missionary activity will be allowed
Weather Forecasters Promise Warm Opening for Games … Russian weather forecasters say that Sochi
will have a high of ten degrees centigrade (50 degrees Fahrenheit) on opening day. Temperatures in the
mountains will be cooler but still near or above freezing (maks-portal.ru/2014-sochi/v-den-otkrytiya-igr-
… But Pledge Not to Interfere with Weather. Meteorological officials in Moscow say that the Russian
authorities will not try to influence the weather by seeding clouds or other measures, unless something
very unexpected happens (sochinskie-novosti.com/2014/01/19/).
Russian Transport Minister Says There are No Problems in Sochi.  Transportation Minister Maksim
Sokolov says that the transportation infrastructure in Sochi is complete and that there are “no problems”
in the region.  Pictures provided by local residents on various blogs call that assertion into question as do
extremely long lines of cars and trucks in many locations (maks-portal.ru/2014-sochi/problem-s-
IOC Requires US Goalie to Eliminate Pro-US Slogans from Her Helmet.  The IOC has ordered Jessie
Wetter, goalkeeper for the US women’s hockey team, to cover up the slogan s“Support our troops!” and
“Miller Time!” on her helmet.  The IOC says that such things violate Olympic rules (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada
Moscow Detains 33 Serbians Working Illegally in Sochi.  Russia’s Federal Migration Service has detained
33 Serbian gastarbeiters who have been in Sochi working on Olympic sites illegally (tvrain.ru/articles/za_chto_v_sochi_arestovany_33_serbskih_stroitelja-360915/).
Vitishko Appeal Continued Until Next to Last Day of Olympics.  The appeal of Yevgeny Vitishko, an
environmental activist who has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for his activities, has been
continued until February 22, the next to last day of the Olympiad. The timing suggests that the authorities
hope to be able to say that the case is still proceeding if anyone criticizes their approach to environmental
issues His colleagues continue to be harassed and his supporters continue to demonstrate (http://ewnc.org/node/13470 and ewnc.org/node/13465).
Environmental Activists Say Moscow Violating Olympic Charter in Sochi.  Yulia Naberezhnaya, an
activist with the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, says that “according to the Olympic Charter,
the Olympic Games cannot proceed in a place where human rights are violated. And we call upon the IOC to
express their criticism of the persecution of activists” in and around Sochi.  Other activists say that “the
Olympic project” as Moscow has carried it out “has created opportunities to destroy the most valuable
natural areas in the name of commercial development” and that Soch has become “less a celebration of
sport and increasingly a celebration of officialdom and a demonstration of governmental ambitions” (facebook.com/notes/environmental-watch-on-north-caucasus/ewncs-press-conference-in-moscow/10152244042248833).
Trash Heaps Keep Rising as Officials Try to Hide Them.  Illegal dumping of construction waste and the
failure of the city to pick up trash has led to mounting piles of trash around the city. In response, officials
have tried to hide the trash behind walls or buildings in the hope that visitors won’t see it. Such efforts may
work for some visitors, but local people say that the illegal heaps are clearly visible (blogsochi.ru/content/iz-
‘Putin Jailed Us When He Found Out We’re Gay,’ Olympic Mascots Say in Cartoon. Cartoons have
become an increasingly important commentary on the Sochi Olympics.  One of the most amusing shows
the two bears who are symbols of the Sochi Games being put in a prison cell. “Putin arrested us when he
found out we are gay,” the two say. Another cartoon shows Putin as an Olympic gold medalist having
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