WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 3 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 3 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 47th 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
Is Putin Reprising His KGB Role at the 1980 Moscow Games? According to Moscow commentator Vladimir Abarinov, it is said that in 1980 Vladimir Putin, then a senior lieutenant in the KGB, played a role in providing security for the Moscow Olympiad. And Abarinov conclude that the Russian president is insisting on many of the security arrangements for Sochi on the basis of his experience then. If so, that could lead the organs now to place a disproportionate stress on physical security rather than on the sharing of information and possibly lead to provocations against groups with which the Kremlin is at odds. That is because, the Grani commentator continues, if one feels oneself in a fortress under siege, one’s “first duty is to find an internal enemy”  (grani.ru/opinion/abarinov/m.223213.html).
Putin Will Do Whatever’s Necessary, From  Repressions to Concessions, to Make Sochi a Success, Commentator Says.  Tatyana Stanovaya, a senior analyst at the Moscow Center for Political Technology, says that Vladimir Putin will do whatever he has to in order to ensure that the Sochi Games are a success, ranging from greater repression to new concessions to the opposition (politcom.ru/17007.html).
US State Department Urges Americans Visiting Sochi to Be ‘Vigilant.’ Those who go to the Sochi games should be vigilant, the US Department of State says, because of the possibility of territory attacks in the region. While there is no evidence that US citizens are being targeted for attack, the State Department says, Americans travelling to Sochi should be aware of the risk and also of the presence of security forces around them. They should also be aware, the warning continued, that medical care may be of a lower standard than they are accustomed to (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_6258.html  and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236483/).
CDC Warns American Visitors to Sochi of Health Risks, Medical Shortcomings.  The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning to Americans planning to go to the Sochi Olympiad about the health risks they may face there and about problems with medical care in the Russian Federation.  Among the advice the CDC gives is that any American having sex there should wear a condom (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/22269-amerikancam-sovetujut-ostorozhno-perehodit-sochinskie-dorogi-i-ne-chihat-na-urorte-v-ruku).
Almost a Third of Sochi Tickets Remain Unsold.  In an indication that there may be empty seats at Sochi because of concerns about security or other issues, 30 percent of the tickets for the Olympics remain unsold, according to Russin officials.  Tickets are available for almost all events and higher-end tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies remain available as well. In contrast, the 2012 London Games sold out early, and at the last winter games in Vancouver, all but 110,000 of 1.5 million were sold. Another indication of weak sales and even weaker attendance is the increasingly large resale market where those who bought tickets earlier either because they planned to go or hoped to profit from resale (en.rsport.ru/olympics/20140116/715554374.html and businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-15/sochi-olympics-ticket-sales-are-on-a-downhill-slope).
Medvedev Says ‘Practically All’ Olympic Objects are Ready and Have Been Tested. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that “practically all objects are ready and have passed a serious checking … In general and on the whole, everything is working” (ria.ru/sochi2014/20140116/989537809.html).
Despite Moscow’s Claims, All is Not Ready for Opening of Games.  The Russian government and its spokesmen routinely insist that everything is ready for the games, but photographs of Sochi facilities posted online, the hiring of 2000 workers from outside at the last minute, wages for Olympic sites now 50 percent higher than the city average, and the use of Soviet-style “forced voluntary” labor underscores that things are not yet completely ready. What is especially striking is that photographs released by officials to show completion in fact show just the opposite (blogsochi.ru/content/fotografii-sochi-s-bespilotnika,vk.com/blogsochi_ru?w=wall-5042747_42375blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskie-obekty-postroyat-bezrabotnye-metallurgi-iz-zlatoustasvpressa.ru/society/article/80344/?vkb,privetsochi.ru/blog/komunalka/40332.htmlsochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BA%D1%83%D0%BB%D1%8B-%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE-%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B0/,  blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskaya-rabota-tsenitsya-v-sochi-v-poltora-raza-vyshe  andhttp://blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskaya-butaforiya-chast-%E2%84%962).
Thirty Thousand Gastarbeiters Still in Sochi, Kozak Acknowledges. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the Sochi Olympics for Moscow says that there are still 30,000 gastarbeiters in Sochi despite his earlier pledges to have all of them out first in November and then December. Most of them are working on Olympic infrastructure projects that are still not completed (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D1%83%D0%BA%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%BD-%D0%B2-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BE/).
Moscow Puts Sochi Protest Site Seven Miles from Nearest Olympic Venue. After Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to allow demonstrations in Sochi if the FSB and local authorities approved, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the Sochi Olympics for Moscow announced that “the protest zone” would be located in Khost, seven miles or 12 kilometers from Olympic sites. The site is located on a street named for the 50thAnniversary of the USSR. Kozak said that “at the park in Khosta, people will be able freely to express their opinions without violating the rights of other citizens or the Olympic charter” (washingtonpost.com/world/europe/sochi-protest-zone-set-far-from-olympics-arenas/2014/01/10/188003c4-79ff-11e3-a647-a19deaf575b3_story.html).
Kozak Promises All Wage Arrears in Sochi Will Be Eliminated by January 14.  Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the Sochi Olympics for Moscow said that he will ensure that all Sochi workers who are owed wages will be fully paid by January 14.  At the same time, the local authorities set up a hot line for workers to complain about this, although the issue has been a lively one for more than a year (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236444/ andsochiadm.ru/press-sluzhba/25810/).
Kozak Says Sochi Air Now Twice as Clean as It Was but Photos Show Otherwise. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the Sochi Olympics for Moscow said that the air in Sochi is now twice as clean as it was before Olympic construction began, but local residents and the photographs they have posted online suggest otherwise (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/40305.html).
Kozak Says Olympics Cost Seven Billion US Dollars and No Funds Were Misused.Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak who is overseeing the Sochi Olympics for Moscow said that the Sochi Olympics had cost just seven billion US dollars, far less than all outside experts have said but the figure Vladimir Putin is apparently insisting on. In addition, he said that no money had been corruptly diverted. Kozak thus added his support to the head of Russian Railways who wants to sue IOC member Gian-Franco Kasper for saying the Sochi Games cost far more and did so in part because of corruption (sochi2014.rsport.ru/sochi2014/20140116/715540385.html andprivetsochi.ru/blog/OlympicRu/40573.html).
Foreign Intelligence Agencies Offering to Help in Sochi Security Seen Threatening Russia. That the Russian government has not taken the proper steps to ensure security at Sochi is beyond question, according to one Russian blogger, but that does not mean that Russians should not question the agendas of the several foreign intelligence services that will be sending their agents to Sochi.  The blogger asks whether they will really help with security or alternatively promote protests and undermine the Russian authorities (raznesi.info/blog/post/11336).
Going to Sochi Games Will Cost a Russian Couple at Least 23,600 Rubles.  A Russian couple planning to go to the Sochi Games will have to count on spending 23,600 rubles (760 US dollars) for train fare from Moscow, low-end hotel rooms and food, and tickets for the least popular events, according to one journalist’s calculation. That amount is roughly equal to an average Russian monthly salary. Those who want to fly, stay at high-end hotels, and attend the opening or closing ceremonies or the most popular events can expect to spend far more (svpressa.ru/sport/article/80622/).
Moscow Pulling Security Personnel from Across Russia for Sochi Games.  Moscow is sending troops from as far away as Siberia and the Russian Far East to provide security at Sochi, at least in principle leaving some of these regions at greater risk of a terrorist attack (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/siberia-joins-national-effort-to-make-the-sochi-olympics-safe-and-successful/).
1300 Medical Workers from Across Russia Will be in Sochi for Games. Possibly at least partially in response to Western suggestions, including one by the US Department of State, that medical care in Sochi is likely to be Spartan, Russian officials have announced that they are sending 1300 medical workers from Moscow, Tataarstan and the Kuban and that 350 of them have already received special training (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236720/).
Tbilisi Again Offers to Help Russia with Sochi Security.  Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garbiashvili said that his government is ready to provide assistance to Russia in the struggle against terrorism during the Sochi Olympiad.  If Russia agrees, “we will only be glad” to do so, he said (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236717/).
Bulgarian Leaders Will Attend Sochi Opening Ceremony.  Although many world leaders are staying away from Sochi for scheduling or political reasons, the president and prime minister of Bulgaria, the only country that asked to join the USSR twice and was refused, have announced that they will attend the opening ceremony in Sochi (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236714/).
Adler Railroad Station Evacuated a Second Time.  Although officials have refused to say what happened, the railway station at Adler has been evacuated twice in the last week, once on January 11 and a second time on January 12, as photographs of people standing outside the station appear to confirm (blogsochi.ru/content/v-sochi-evakuirovali-lyudei-s-zhd-vokzala-adler and privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/40564.html).
Kirov Residents Say Torch Running Past ‘Carrying with It Our Schools, Hospital and Pensions.’  When the Olympic torch passed through Kirov, the police harassed local opposition figures, but some of those standing along the route carried signs saying that the Sochi torch represented the one trillion rubles Moscow has taken out of the pockets of Russians and thus, “running past us are the schools, hospitals and pensions” Russians won’t get (svoboda.org/content/article/25227956.html).
Olympic Torch Leads to ‘Theater of the Absurd” in Saratov.  Although Saratov residents were not unhappy that officials cleaned up the city in advance of the passing of the Olympic torch, they were upset by the pressure those same officials put on children and adults to show up alongside the site and the fact that the trash that had disappeared returned after the torch had passed (echo.msk.ru/blog/mikhail_shapovalov/1236064-echo/,video.sarbc.ru/video/3905.html and mcall.com/opinion/mc-russia-olympics-web-20140114,0,6873307.story).
Penza Officials Pull Out All the Stops and an Adult Star to Boost Audience for Torch. Not only did officials in Penza cover a broken down building along the route with canvas showing a newer and better “Potemkin” building, but they very publically invited a woman who has appeared in Russian men’s magazines to the event in the hopes of attracting more people to the route. But th effort largely failed and residents complained about what the officials were doing  (https://vk.com/blogsochi_ru?z=photo-5042747_319571214%2Fwall-5042747_42359,
Olympic Torch Route Shortened for Security in North Caucasus.  Because of security concerns, Olympic officials have announced that they have reduced the length of the route the Olympic torch will travel and the number of bearers who will carry it in Daghestan and North Osetia (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236679/ and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236739/).
Vandals Destroy Byzantine Church Ruins near Sochi.  As yet unidentified fortune hunters have destroyed much of the ruins of a ninth century Byzantine church near Sochi (http://9tv.ru/news/item/45079).
Sochi is ‘Not a Concentration Camp Of Course, But …’ The influx of security officers from across Russia is now so large that residents in Sochi are saying that their city isn’t a concentration camp but it is on the way to becoming one. That reflection is especially bitter now, they say, because some of the siloviki coming in are behaving badly, including appearing in public drunk and disorderly (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/40584.html).
Sochi Countdown Clock Unexpectedly Stops Three Weeks Before Opening Ceremony.  There has not been any official explanation, but the Olympiad countdown clock in the center of Sochi has stopped working 22 days before the competition is scheduled to open (sochinskie-novosti.com/2014/01/16/).
‘Sochi 2014’ Playwright Says Russians told Her ‘There are No Gays in Russia.’ Tess Berry-Hart, who wrote “Sochi 2014” about the travails of LGBTs in Russia, says that Russians friends told her as she prepared that there were no gay people in Russia or they were confined to St. Petersburg. Ultimately, however, mutual friends opened the way for the conversations that became the basis for her London play (howlround.com/sochi-2014-the-making-of).
Moscow has Time to Acknowledge Its ‘Bloody History’ in the Caucasus, Canadian Historian Says.  Carolyn Harris, a historian at the University of Toronto, says that despite the attention the international community has given to problems in Sochi, “President Vladimir Putin’s decision to downplay Sochi’s bloody history within the context of the Olympics has received less attention.” But “with the Opening Ceremonies a few weeks away, there is still time for the Olympics to serve as an opportunity for Russia to acknowledge its violent history in the region” (ottawacitizen.com/life/Sochi+bloody+history/9387206/story.html).
Sochi Officials Beginning ‘Mass Killing’ of Homeless Animals. Despite expression of outrage by animal rights groups in Russia and abroad and unkept promises by Russian officials that they would build a pound to house animals rather than kill them, these officials have launched what defenders of the animals say is “the mass cleansing” of Sochi from homeless animals. These activists are appealing for support so that they can get the dogs and cats off the street and prevent their euthanization (privetsochi.ru/blog/helpanimals/40496.html).
Russian Courts Reject LGBT Group’s Request for Permission to Demonstrate in Sochi.  A Krasnoyarsk kray court has left in place a Sochi court’s decision not to permit a demonstration by LGBT groups in Sochi on January 26, an indication of the problems such groups are likely to have despite Vladimir Putin’s recent promise that groups can organize demonstrations if they get FSB permission (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236669/).
Sochi Mayor Plagiarized Dissertation. Like some other Russian officials, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov has been exposed as having lifted large segments of his dissertation from the work of others. His violation of academic integrity, initially raised by Blogsochi.ru has now been taken up by Korruptsiya.net, “Novaya gazeta” and Kompromat.ru (blogsochi.ru/content/mer-sochi-anatolii-pakhomov-%E2%80%93-plagiator).
Pakhomov Blamed for Deforestation of Sochi.  Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhmov by his actions and inactions is responsible for the cutting down of “hundreds of thousands of trees” in the resort city and its surrounding territory.  For the construction of a single power facility in Kudepsta alone, he authorized the cutting down of more than 2,000 trees (blogsochi.ru/content/mer-lesorub).
For Poorer Sochi Residents, Authorities Redecorate a 1950s Barracks.  As they watch expensive new buildings going up arount them, some Sochi residents are expressing outrage that local officials are simply lightly redecorating half-century-old barracks as the housing for less well-off people. They describe one of these buildings as tuberculosis breeding grounds (privetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/40522.html).
Russia Experiencing ‘Represssion of Olympic Proportions,’ Freedom House Warns. The western human rights organization Freedom House has released a report detailing the ways in which “on the eve of Sochi,” residents of the Russian Federation are suffering “repression of Olympic proportions” (freedomhouse.org/russia-eve-sochi#.UtZ0GrRcUUN).
27 Nobel Prize Winners Call on Putin to Repeal Anti-Gay Law.  Twenty-seven winners of Nobel Prizes in an open letter published in London’s “Independent” call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to repeal the “repressive homophobic legislation” which has sparked denunciations and controversy around the world. Their letter has already drawn fire from Russian commentators who say that the Western scholars are both interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs and promoting immorality (independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/27-nobel-laureates-join-sir-ian-mckellen-to-protest-over-russias-gay-propaganda-ban-9057275.htmlandruskline.ru/news_rl/2014/01/14/oni_prizyvayut_ves_mir_k_sodomu_i_gomorre_te_k_vymiraniyu/).
West Said Using Gays as Frontline Troops for New Cold War Against Russia. Russian commentator Valery Panov says that Western governments are using LGBT activists as frontline troops in their reopened cold war against Russia (stoletie.ru/tekuschiiy_moment/holodnaja_gej-vojna_110.htm).
Despite Local Opposition, Putin Orders 2019 Universiade to Take Place in Krasnoyarsk.  Residents and some officials in Krasnoyarsk have opposed Moscow’s plans to have their city host the Universiade in 2019 because their city is already suffering from a deficit and many infrastructure problems. But despite that, President Vladimir Putin has signed an order that the competition will take place there (sobkorr.ru/news/52D5368749126.html).
NBC Co-Host Says She Feels ‘Good Enough’ about Sochi Security.  Meredith Vieira,who will co-host NBC’s coverage of the Games, told “The Hollywood Reporter” that”I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t [concerned about security]. But “I really believe the Russian government is going to do everything it can to avoid that situation. This is Putin’s baby and they don’t want anything to go wrong. But that doesn’t mean things won’t happen elsewhere in the country because I think those terrorists are given an opportunity and they will take it.” She concluded, “I’m basically assured that it will be fine. But it may not be. I know that. But I feel good enough about it that I’m going to be there for sure” (hollywoodreporter.com/news/sochi-meredith-vieira-security-concerns-670594).
Islamists Could Attack Sochi with Drones of Their Own.  Richard Lourie, who has written extensively about Russia, says that Russia’s Islamist insurgents may attack the Sochi Winter Olympics with drones. These will not be like the drones used by the Americans, armed with Hellfire missiles. Rather they will be jerry-rigged unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, of the sort easily available online for a few thousand dollars. Such remote-controlled UAVs are probably unstoppable at low altitudes and will not need much armament to cause mayhem.” He speculates that the most likely occasion will be the closing ceremony. That is because February 23rd “marks the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Chechens, Ingush and others from their homelands in the North Caucasus. That choice was either an act of colossal ignorance or colossal arrogance,” he says (themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/vengeance-in-sochi/492569.html).
Environmental Organizations Appeal to IOC about Russian Repression of Ecologists. Greenpeace Russia, World Wildlife – Russia, and the UN Environmental Program – have appealed to IOC President Thomas Bach to require Moscow to end the repression of Russian ecologists like Yevgeny Vitishko. If the IOC does not do so, the environmental organizations said they would appeal to other international organizations (ewnc.org/node/13432 http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236610/).
Circassian Leaders Denounce Terrorism. The leaders of major Circassian organizations in the North Caucasus and abroad have issued a statement denouncing terrorism and any other criminal actions some may take for political goals. They said that they remain committed to promoting the Circassian cause but would do so only within the law and the principles of democracy (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236624/ and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236613/).
Cossacks Double Their Sochi Contingent.  Russian officials had planned to use 410 Cossacksa as guards during the Sochi Games, but they have now announced plans to double that representation to 820, an increase that suggests Moscow is pulling out all the stops to ensure physical security in the Olympic venue (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236596/).
Sochi has Cost Every Russian Two Months Salary, Blogger Says.  President Vladimir Putin has spent on the Sochi Olympiad an amount equal to 70,000 rubles, more than two months salary, of every Russian man, woman and child, and one that could have been spent to buy military equipment or improve the lives of the people, according to a Russian blogger. And much of this money has been corruptly diverted, he says, pointing to the bankruptcy of 25 companies, some of which may have been only shell corporations, over the last 12 months (blogsochi.ru/content/kto-vam-navral-pro-beshenuyu-stoimost-olimpiady).
Russian Weather Forecasters Have Been Preparing for Sochi for Four Years.  Roman Vilfand, the director of Russia’s Hydrometeorological Center, says he and his colleagues have been preparing for four years to make the best forecasts possible for the Sochi Games. He says that there will be enough snow but notes that many competitors prefer artificial snow instead (vestikavkaza.ru/articles/Sinoptiki-obedinilis-pered-Olimpiadoy.html).
Petersburg Police Serving in Sochi Say They’re in Prison-Like Conditions.  Some members of the St. Petersburg police who have been transferred to Sochi in advance of the Olympics say that they are being treated as if they were in prison, with bad living conditions and extreme restrictions on their activities (nr2.ru/northwest/478826.html).
Sweden’s Sports Minister to Skip Sochi Opening Ceremony.  Lena Adelsohn Lijeroth, Sweden’s minister of sports, says she will go to Sochi to support her country’s athletes but will not take part in the opening ceremonies which she had had been politicized by Russian President Vladimir Putin (http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2014/01/13/swedish-minister-snubs-sochi-olympics-opening-ceremony-calls-it-putin/).
Human Rights Watch Fears Conditions in Russia Could Deteriorate After Sochi. Tanya Lokshina, HRW’s Russia program director and senior researcher, said in releasing an HRW guide to the Olympiad that “What happens if — God forbid — everyone forgets about Russia after the Olympics and all the eyes that are now focused on Russia as the host country of the Olympic Games will be turned the other way? We are seriously worried that, should such a situation occur, the offensive against civil society, freedom of opinion, and independent activists will be strongly advanced. The screws might be tightened exceptionally severely. The only way to prevent that from happening is to continue to keep our attention on Russia once the Olympic Games are over” (rferl.org/content/sochi-olympics-rights-hrw-report/25228434.html).
Many in Moscow Worried by Growing Criticism of Sochi.  Nikolay Petrov, a poessor at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, says that the many in Moscow’s expert community are concerned about “the growing wave of criticism abroad of Vladimir Putin’s Olympic policy and the dissatisfaction of Russians with the torch show and the enormous expenditures for the competition itself.”  This  development suggests that the Kremlin leader has made a miscalculation in how he has organized the games and that this may have political consequences for him in the coming months, including a possible challenge to his power (voboda.org/content/article/25228578.html).
FSB is Preparing to Block Protests More than to Prevent Terrorism, Soldatov Says. Andrey Soldatov, Russia’s leading independent expert on that country’s security agencies, says that the security program that the FSB has put in place in Sochi appears to be more about preventing protests rather than terrorist actions.  He also says that the games are providing “an excellent opportunity” for Russian counter-intelligence officers to gather “personal data on so many important people” (cbc.ca/news/world/russia-s-olympic-security-to-set-new-surveillance-standard-at-sochi-1.2492247).
Sochi Fan Passport Requires Much Personal Information.  The Sochi Olympiad organizers have now put up a website about the fan passport they have introduced in the name of security. It requires far more detailed information than visa applications (https://pass.sochi2014.com/sochi/?locale=ru#tab_info).
‘Almost All’ Illegal Buildings in Sochi Have Been Legalized or Torn Down.  Russian officials say that “almost all” of the many buildings erected in Sochi without permission or in violation of city rules have been legalized or torn down. In place of many of those torn down is new Olympics-related construction (maks-portal.ru/ekonomika-sochi/v-sochi-snesli-pochti-vse-nezakonnye-postroiki).
Russian Actor Who Said Gays Should be Put in Ovens Calls for Ban on Homosexuality.  Ivan Okhlobystin, a Rusian actor who earlier called for gays to be put in ovens has now called on President Vladimir Putin to restore the Soviet-era ban on homosexuality. His comments have infuriated many but received support from others (pinknews.co.uk/2014/01/08/russian-actor-who-called-for-gays-to-be-put-in-ovens-urges-putin-to-ban-homosexuality/).
Heritage Report Says US Should Help Moscow with Sochi Security. A  report on security and counter-terrorism at Sochi prepared by Heritage researchers Cassandra Lucaccioni and Ariel Cohen says that the United States should provide “the Russian leadership and Olympic council to put in place comprehensive counterterrorism measures to protect the city of Sochi, the athletes, and the spectators while allowing an exciting and competitive global event to take place” (www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/01/sochi-security-and-counterterrorism-at-the-2014-winter-olympics).
Putin’s Sochi Spending May Scare Off Future Olympic Bids.  One of the consequences of the enormous price of the Sochi Games, Simon Jenkiins of “The Guardian” says, is that many countries which might have been interested in hosting the games in the future will decide against doing so. “In Rio, the poor (and not so poor) are already rioting against the extravagance,” he says. “In Sochi, Putin’s gamble with international terrorism is already proving lethal. As so far planned, Qatar will have footballers dying of heat and stadiums left decaying in the desert like Ozymandias’s ruins. It will one day go horribly wrong. Perhaps then a brave ruler will have the guts to walk away from this nonsense” (theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/10/sochi-winter-olympics-gods-of-sport).
‘A Caucasian Olympics without Caucasians.’  Russia’s decision to place the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic on the other side of its national security perimeter and the orders officials reportedly have issued to residents of Daghestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia not to travel to Krasnodar kray without special permission until after the Sochi Games may mean that they will prove to be “a Caucasian Olympics without Caucasians” (timur-kuashev.livejournal.com/171856.html and kavpolit.com/olimpiada-na-kavkaze-bez-kavkazcev/).
High Winds Knock over Sochi City New Year’s Tree.  High winds have knocked down the Sochi city new year’s tree, and residents note that no one has yet tried to put it back up (blogsochi.ru/content/upala-elka-i-davai-valyatsya).
Sochi Games Have Poisoned Abkhazia’s Relations with Russia.  According to a “Newsweek” account, Abkhazians are outraged that they have been prevented from competing as a separate country at Sochi or from earning money by working on Olympic construction or even from attending the competitions.  As one Abkhazian told the American news weeksly, “you have to be careful with Russians. If you put your finger in their mouth, they’ll bite off your arm right up to the shoulder” (mag.newsweek.com/2014/01/10/abkhazia-russia-olympics-sochi.html).
Circassians Begin Commemoration of 150th Anniversary of 1864 Genocide. Circassians in Adygeya have held the first memorial events to mark the 150th anniversary of the genocide carried out against their ancestors by Russian forces. They say that they will hold such events throughout the year and announced that whatever happens in Sochi – and most Circassians oppose the games because they take place on the site where many of their nation were killed — the Circassians “will not forget about the tragedy of their own people for a minute” (maykopkhase.blogspot.ru/2014/01/blog-post.html).
Security Gaps on Rail Lines Confirmed.  Experts have confirmed a report by Kuban television last week that there are serious security gaps on the rail lines leading into Sochi, gaps that could allow a terrorist to enter the city with little risk of being stopped or even challenged (kavpolit.com/kak-by-chego-iz-sochi-ne-vyvezli/).
Low Public Trust in Russian Media and Officials Allows Rumors to Spread. Many Russians particularly in the North Caucasus do not trust what the largely state-controlled media and officials tell them, something that is reflected both in suggestions that Russian officials themselves may be behind recent terrorist outrages, an unwillingness to believe the confessions of those arrested for the Volgograd attacks, and the rapid spread of panicky rumors, independent journalists say (kavpolit.com/panikery-raskachivayut-kavkaz/).
Competitors and Fans at Risk of Ammonia Poisoning at Sochi Bobsled Track. According to Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus, shoddy construction means that in the event of even a small accident on the Sochi bobsled track, many competitors and fans could be at risk of ammonia poisoning.  The EWNC said that contractors could have eliminated such a risk with proper planning but that they had not done so and that the health of many could now be endangered (ewnc.org/node/13413).
Belgian Senate Rejects Call for Sochi Boycott.  The Belgian senate approved a resolution rejecting a boycott of the Sochi Games that representatives of the country’s Green Party had called for (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236423/).
Sochi Schoolboy Says Pakhomov Should Go to Antarctica and Herd Penguins.  Asked what he would like to tell Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, a schoolboy in the Olympic city said that he would like to tell him to move to Antarctica and herd penguins, a measure of just how unpopular Pakhomov now is (privetsochi.ru/blog/school_sochi/40325.html).
Metal Thefts on the Rise in Sochi.  Thieves are stealing copper and other metals from construction sites in order to make money, a crime very common in the Russian Federation in the 1990s but relatively rare now.  Apparently, many construction sites are not well-guarded and thieves have found it easy to make off with large amounts of the valuable metals (privetsochi.ru/blog/warning/40285.html).
Novosibirsk Residents Make a Sochi Out of Snow – Including Icy Palm Trees. In honor of the Winter Olympiad in the subtropics, residents of the capital of Siberia have build a model of Sochi out of snow, including palm trees! (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/22209-v-stolice-sibiri-pojavilsja-ledovyj-olimpijskij-gorodok-s-palmami).
Circassians Lumped with ‘Many Others’ in Cultural Plans for Sochi.  According to a report posted on the Circassian Voices webpage, there will be Circassian performers taking part in the cultural programs in Sochi, but unlike Rusians, Cossacks, and Udmurts, there is as yet no specific reference to them in Olympic planning documents that have been made public. Instead, it is assumed they are being lumped together with “many others.” “It is not clear whether this omission is intentional or not. It is perhaps that we are not looking in the right place, or missed something. Be that as it may, it seems that although a substantive Circassian cultural component is scheduled during the games, at the meta-level,” the report concludes, “the Circassians are being ignored” (circasvoices.blogspot.com/2014/01/report-on-circassian-component-of_3.html).
Sochi Games have ‘Nothing to Do’ with Patriotism, Prestige or Health, Russian Blogger Says. Despite the Kremlin’s claims to the contrary, the holding of an Olympic games in Sochi has “nothing to do” with patriotism, prestige or promoting public health, a blogger says.Consequently, there is no justification for the enormous sums of money being spent on them (zakon.mirtesen.ru/blog/43249974000/zachem-nam-olimpiada?utm_campaign=transit&utm_source=main&utm_medium=page_0&pad=1).
Russian Economy Likely to Suffer Post-Olympic Recession. Western and Russian experts say that following the Sochi Games and the infusion of money into the economy that that competition has represented, the Russian economy as a whole is likely to suffer, although perhaps not as much as those of other Olympic hosts in the past (svpressa.ru/society/article/80341/).
Moscow Seen Preparing Anti-Georgian ‘Provocation’ at Sochi.Paata Davitaya, the leader of Georgia’s European Democrats, says that Moscow is currently preparing “a serious provocation against Georgia” to take place at the time of the Sochi Games and likely involving the Abkhazians (abkhazeti.info/abkhazia/2014/1389376547.php).
Sochi Cartoons Increasingly Sharp. Russian cartoonists have had a field day with Sochi, but in recent days, their drawings have become ever more significant as a form of public commentary. One cartoon showed a man selling snacks and Sochi license plates to people trying to drive into the city (blogsochi.ru/content/churchkhela-pakhlava-sochinskie-nomera). Another showed rabbits being asked to vote for a fox as the only choice for their leader (blogsochi.ru/content/o-vyborakh-v-sochi). A third showed Putin using “smoke” from the Olympic torch to try to hide repression (twitter.com/FaraPussyRiot/status/421651057807093760/photo/1). A fourth showed an Olympic torchbearer being blocked from entering Sochi by siloviki (twitter.com/ninaivanovna/status/421868916265058304/photo/1). And a fifth showed the four horse of the apocalypse riding into Sochi, one of whom looked like a security officer and another like Moscow Patriarch Kirill (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40371.html).
Duma Preparing New Anti-Terrorist Laws. In the wake of the Volgograd terrorist attacks and in defense of Sochi, the Russian parliament is considering a package of new laws that will increase penalties for terrorist actions, expand government control over the Internet, and block anonymous funds transfer (sova-center.ru/misuse/news/lawmaking/2014/01/d28799/ and kavpolit.com/informacionnoe-pole-dolzhno-byt-nedostupnym-dlya-terroristov/).
Russian Energy Minister Promises Sochi Electric Grid Will Be Ready by January 25. Pressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and at a time when more than 20,000 Sochi residents are suffering power outages on a daily basis, some planned and many as the result of construction accidents, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that his ministry will finish “all work” on the grid by January 20 and have it cleared for public access by January 25 (http://blogsochi.ru/content/vstrecha-vputina-s-ministrom-energetiki-anovakom and latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-2014-sochi-olympics-power-boost-20140110,0,7523849.story#axzz2q5KajCcP).
Fraudulent Poll on Sochi Pulled Off the Internet. A poll that gave those who responded few choices but to say they were awaiting the Sochi Games with enthusiasm unless they put other was pulled after bloggers noted that, like many other North Caucasus enumeration, the numbers listed totaled more than 100 percent. One blogger noted that this finding makes Sochi only slightly less popular than the ruling United Russia Party which received 146 percent in one election (echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/1235866-echo/privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40306.htmland privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40317.html).I\
Italian Olympic Committee Member Criticizes US for Including Gay Athletes on Its Delegation.  Mario Pescante, a member of the Italian Olympic Committee, said that it was “absurd” that the US was sending “four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights [have been established].” Pescante said he is not against gays but only against the politicization of the Olympiad (abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/senior-ioc-member-criticizes-us-choices-sochi-21546112).
Moscow to Monitor Sochi from Space if Need Be.  Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the Russian government would monitor Sochi from space if need be. Other officials noted that responsibility for controlling the airspace over Sochi would be divided among four different agencies, including the FSB and the Interior Ministry (ria.ru/incidents/20140110/988605097.html#ixzz2qC0p4fqu and
Sewage Leaks and Trash Remain Problems. Despite official promises and some efforts, Sochi residents continue to find new sewage leaks in public places and trash heaps where they are not supposed to be (blogsochi.ru/content/kanalizatsiya-u-moremolla,kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236518/privetsochi.ru/blog/eco-sochi/40507.htmlprivetsochi.ru/blog/eco-sochi/40489.html and http://blogsochi.ru/content/eshche-odin-olimpiiskii-vorovskoi-karer-sochi).
Sochi Residents Continue to Struggle with Water and Power Outages, TV Cutoffs, Enhanced Security, and Rising Prices. Sochi residents are increasingly angry that their power, water and heat is anything but reliable, that their television service has been cut off for several days, that the enhanced security measures Moscow has imposed are making their lives more complicated, and that they face rising prices, including what looks like price gouging by utilities seeking to recover their own rising costs or to make a profit (privetsochi.ru/blog/Wailing_wall/40352.html,
Two Million People Have Viewed Film on Sochi Moscow Didn’t Want Shown. Because of the Internet, two million people have viewed a film that the Kremlin tried to block nine months ago.  Many have also viewed other films and film clips critical of the Sochi games (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40471.htmlblogsochi.ru/content/olimpiada-vne-igry andhttp://svobodu-narodam.livejournal.com/682704.html).
Sochi Still has Still Not Created a Barrier-Free Environment.  Russian Paralymic organizers have made serious strides in creating a barrier-free environment in Sochi given the place from which they started, but there are still many places where people with physical handicaps will find it difficult or impossible to gain access (sochinskie-novosti.com/%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%B2%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%8F-%D1%81%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%B0/).
Share Button

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 4 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 4 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 46th 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 Gets Credit for Relaxing Restrictions on Protests … Having earlier issued a ban on all demonstrations in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin received praise from the International Olympic Committee, some Russian commentators and much of the Western media for modifying that ban to allow protests at special sites in Sochi during the Olympiad if the demonstrations are not connected with the Games themselves and if organizers receive permissionfrom the interior ministry, the FSB and the local authorities, effectively shifting the responsibility for rejecting such applications from the Kremlin to the bureaucracy rather than respecting Russian constitutional guarantees for such meetings (kremlin.ru/acts/20026espn.go.com/olympics/story/_/id/10241783/vladimir-putin-backs-ban-demonstrations-2014-sochi-olympicsria.ru/sochi2014_news/20140104/987901056.htmlforum-msk.org/material/news/10183106.htmlkavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236203/,sochi2014.rsport.ru/sochi2014/20140104/712604345.html,and blogsochi.ru/content/putin-razreshil-mitingi-v-sochi-vo-vremya-olimpiady).
… But Activists and Analysts Say His New Rules Won’t Allow Real Ones … Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Russian opposition, Nikolay Alekseyev, an LGBT  activist, and Lev Levinson, an expert at the Moscow Institute of Human Rights, among others, say that Putin’s latest move effectively  bans all meeetings but allows the Russian president to escape personal responsibility for prohibiting them. And Jane Buchanan, associate director of Human Rights Watch, says that Russia’s move to create protest zones represents “an assault on free speech” rather than a defense of it and should be evaluated as a public relations stunt rather than a change of heart by Vladimir Putin (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236217/  andpolicyreview.eu/despite-prisoner-amnesty-oppressive-russia-escalating-harassment-of-dissenters/).
… And Russian Commentator Lampoons Putin’s Announcement. In a blog post on Kasparov.ru, Sergey Lunin lampoons Putin’s latest move a “a big step forward,” noting that the inmates of Hitler’s concentration camps could never “even dream” of having such spaces to express their grievances against the Nazis. Creating special zones for permitted protests thus demonstrates “how much humanity has improved” since then, Lunin says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=52C8564A2DB21).
Putin Promises ‘Total Annihilation’ of Terrorists. In his New Year’s message to the Russian people, President Vladimir Putin promised as he has in the past to “strongly and decisively continue the battle against terrorists until their total annihilation.”  Shortly thereafter, he arrived in Sochi to inspect, among other things, security arrangements that some are calling “a ring of steel” around the Olympic city.  Accompanying him, among others, was Federal Migration Service director Konstantin Romodanovsky who has taken the lead in expelling illegal gastarbeiters and tightening registration requirements for workers from other parts of the North Caucasus and Central Asia (news.nationalpost.com/2014/01/04/can-russia-make-the-olympic-games-in-sochi-safe-from-terrorists/, telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/10550712/Vladimir-Putin-makes-final-inspection-of-Sochis-ring-of-steel-security.htmland  vz.ru/news/2014/1/7/667047.html).
Sochi Becomes a ‘Closed City’ on Russian Christmas.  Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree ordering unprecedentedly tight security for the Sochi Olympiad went into effect on January 7, a “Christmas present” that “killed the holiday spirit” not only in Sochi but throughout the region, according to Vladimir Kimayev, head of the YABLOKO party organization in that city. Many said they agreed with the need for enhanced security but expressed concern that officials were exceeding their briefs, jumping the gun to enforce the decree, over-conscientiously checking documents,and violating the Russian constitution. Some suggested that fences and locks had become the symbol of the resort city, and others complained that restrictions on cars and streets were getting in the way of normal activities for an absurdly long period. Some of these excesses may be ended after a shakedown period, but others are likely to endure.  It certainly did nothing to calm the situation when a senior Russian official said that “all divisions responsible for ensuring the security of guests at the games are being put on combat alert,” a statement many see as pointing to a long siege of the city. At the same time, there have been some lighter moments: One policeman tried to prevent a Soch resident from entering a restroom simply because the man could not produce his documents (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/40000.html).
Russian Security Efforts Unlikely to Be Totally Effective, Soldatov Says … Andrey Soldatov, Russia’s leading independent expert on that country’s security services, says Moscow is using a combination of old-style Soviet control methods and new technologies to defend against terrorism but has done little or nothing to promote what are the most important means of doing so: the collection of significant intelligence about the opposition and the sharing of information among the various government offices involved.  Those are areas in which “the Russian special services have always had problems.”  As a result, security at the time of the games cannot be taken as guaranteed and discussion of the Sochi Olympics has shifted from a focus on sports to one on security.  Soldatov added that he is far from certain whether he personally would go to Sochi under the circumstanes (svoboda.org/content/article/25221821.html).
… Other Experts Concur.  Russian and Western experts generally concur with Soldatov’s conclusion, with most suggesting that Moscow may be able to prevent a terrorist attack at the Olympic venues but not block one in outlying areas. Among those taking that view are Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation who says that “Moscow-run security services provide … poor intelligence work against terrorist targets,” Masha Gessen, a Russina journalist, who says that “the Soviet combination of powerlessness and pretence has been recreated, and Mark Galeotti of New York Univeersity who says that Moscow’s two billion US dollar investment in Sochi security won’t block attacks outside of Sochi.  But he added, as do most, that “insurgents and terrorists have been able to get through what was meant to be impenetrable security by paying bribes or just taking advantage of human weaknesses” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236279/,
Counter-Terrorist Regime Introduced in Stavropol after Bodies Found. Moscow has launched a counter-terrorism operation in Stavropol kray after six bodies were found in parked cars and an explosive device was discovered nearby. Russia’s Investigative Committee and the FSB are conducting a security sweep of the region to try to identify those responsible. Some observers suspect terrorists from the nearby North Caucasus and link this action to the attempts of militants to disrupt the Olympics (stavregion.ru/news/2014/01/09/na-territoriyah-predgornogo-i-kirovskogo-rajonov-s/  and bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-09/russia-places-region-near-sochi-on-alert-as-6-found-dead-in-cars.html).
Kuban TV Shows How Easy It Would Be for Terrorists to Take the Train to Sochi.  A six-minute segment on Sovetsky Kuban television shows how easy it would be for anyone, including a terrorist, to circumvent the minimal security arrangements at some railway stations (blogsochi.ru/content/sovetskaya-kuban-olimpiiskii-sochi-dostupen-dlya-terroristov).
410 Kuban Cossacks to Help with Sochi Security. The Kuban Cossack Army says it is sending 410 of its community to help provide security (en.rsport.ru/olympics/20140109/713711586.html and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236374/).
US, United Kingdom Offer Moscow Counter-Terrorism Help.  US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel telephoned his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu to offer counter-terorrism assistnace to help make the Sochi games safe, if such assistance is requested.  Meanwhile, British PrimeMinnsiter David Cameron directed MI-6 to share with Moscow any information it had that could help prevent terrorist attacks against Sochi or during the Sochi Games (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236231/rt.com/news/pentagon-russia-help-sochi-192/ and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236277/).
FBI to Send Agents to Help Russia with Sochi Security.  James B. Comey, director of the FBI, said his organization is sending special agents and support personnel to provide security at the Sochi Games. Approximately 25 will be based in Moscow while a dozen others will be in Sochi itself  (washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-sending-security-help-to-sochi-olympics/2014/01/09/f56f7d5e-7960-11e3-b1c5-739e63e9c9a7_story.html).
No Flights ‘from Outside the FSU’ Except for Charters or Private Planes Now Allowed to Land at Sochi. Among the security arrangements that have now gone into place is a ban on all flights from outside the former Soviet Union to the Olympic city. Instead, all regular passengers from the “far” abroad will have to go via Moscow or St. Petersburg (guardianlv.com/2014/01/sochi-why-the-olympics-will-be-safe/).
Russians Urged to Defend Their Rights But Not If Facing Police Alone.  A Sochi legal affairs expert says that Russians should defend their rights when they think they are being violated but not take the risk of doing so when they are facing the police alone.  That is necessary to overcome among both the police and the population the widespread “presumption of guilt” that many operate under. Any “heroism,” however, should be avoided because it carries with it great personal risks (privetsochi.ru/blog/grazhdannskoe_obhestvo_goroda_sochi/40135.html).
Tight Security at Cathedral Where Putin Went Forces Most Residents to Go Elsewhere.  Security around the new Sochi cathedral where Russian President Vladimir Putin attended Russian Christmas services was so tight that, in the words of Kavka-uzel.ru, “many believersin Sochi preferred to visit” one of the 34 older Orthodox churches in the city or not attend any (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236314/).
FSB to Retain Meta-Data from Sochi Meta-Data for Three Years.  Andrey Soldatov and Irina Borogan, Russia’s leading independent specialists on that country’s security services, says that the meta-data that is being collected by Rostelekom for conversations in and around Sochi will be retained for three years by the FSB in its database (ej.ru/?a=note&id=24044).
New Ban on Liquids on Russian Aircraft Outrages Some.  In the name of security for the Sochi Olympics, the Russian government has banned air travelers inside the country from carrying anything liquid, including medicines, a move that has outraged some Russians.  One commentator, who said he had been a supporter of the Sochi Games, says that this ban may change his mind.  “Perhaps for [others] there exists another Olympics, but for me,” he said, the games are all about my need and right to carry my medicines with me (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236331/ and echo.msk.ru/blog/ganapolsky/1234126-echo/).
US Readies Plan for Mass Evacuation of Athletes from Sochi. USA Today reports that the US government has prepared a plan for the evacuation of American athletes from Sochi in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack and has signed a contract with Global Rescue which calls for, among other things, the preparation of five jets to implement (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236350/).
Putin Implicitly Admits Not All Olympic Sites are Fully Ready.  At the start of President Vladimir Putin’s latest visit to Sochi and despite the insistence of Russian Olympic Committee officials that Sochi is ready for guests, aides to the Kremlin leader said he would be focusing his attention on those sites where more remains to be done. One sector that Putin appears to be especially concerned about is the electrical network. He directed the energy ministry to take control of the problem-plagued branch  (mk.ru/politics/russia/news/2014/01/09/968163-putin-poruchil-minenergo-zhestko-kontrolirovat-energosistemu-v-sochi.html  and vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/22093-putin-proverit-olimpijskie-obekty-gde-est-nedorabotki).
Ufa Paper Attacks ‘Liberal Rats’ for Opposing Sochi Olympics.  According to an article in the main newspaper of the Bashkortostan capital, Russian “liberals are competing with each other as to who can spit the most on the approaching Olympics” in Sochi.  These “liberals,” the paper says, ignore the fact that “the Sochi billions work for [Russia’s] economy,” because “the incomes of citizens and the expenditures of the state are one and the same thing.”  Moreover, the paper says, they forget that Russia’s prestigeis on the line as well (ufvrem.ru/jce/stati/352-olimpijskij-korabl-i-liberalnye-krysy).
Sochi ‘Tough Sell’ for US Fans Even Before Volgograd.  Tour firms in the United States say that the Sochi Olympiad was “a tough sell” even before the Volgograd violence, with one in Chicago saying it was sending only 50 to Sochi compared to the 350 she organized visits for the Beijing Games.  The location and the possibility of terrorist violence are only part of the problem, she continued. Sochi has problems with local transportation and suffers from the lack of high-end hotels. According to another tour firm in Austin, Texas, Sochi is becoming “more of an event that people are really happy to watch on TV” rather than to attend. Bookings for Sochi are also below expectations, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia says, because of the country’s economic problems. But it suggests there may be a last-minute burst because Russian travelers increasingly have been scheduling their holidays not far in advance but shortly before they go (travelweekly.com/Europe-Travel/Sochi-Olympics-a-tough-sell-even-before-Volgograd-bombings/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TravelWeeklysTopStories+%28Travel+Weekly%27s+Top+Stories%29 and  vestikavkaza.ru/articles/2013-god-turoperatory-nazvali-predkrizisnym.html).
Olympiad Loses Another Star to Injury.  Despite “tough security measures,” “a vastmedia center,” and a highly orchestrated “torch relay extravaganza,” Russian Sport says, “Sochi’s Olympic organizers found themselves upstaged by a skier’s knee Tuesday, with just one month to go until the Games.Lindsay Vonn, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist and one of the Winter Games’ most recognizable faces, will not compete in Sochi after succumbing to a knee problem that has dogged her since at least 2007.Other prominent athletes have withdrawn from Sochi in recent months, including French downhill and giant slalom world champions Marion Rolland and Tessa Worley, but none of them has the name recognition and marketability of Vonn, a big name in her own right who has gained extra exposure through her ongoing relationship with golf star Tiger Woods.” With each such absence, the Games will likely lose some of television audience advertisers are counting on (en.rsport.ru/olympics/20140107/713461889.html).
Putin Seeks Gold in Anti-Terrorist Effort, US Commentator Says.  Writing in Nashville’sTennessean, Rachel Marsden says that terrorist threats against Sochi, combine with the Syrian conflict and Islamist violence, “give Russia the chance to assume a leadership role in the struggle againt terrorism” and suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to win the gold in that struggle (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236344/).
Anti-Gay Policies and Attitudes Leading Many Russian LGBTs to Emigrate. Russian LGBTs say that anti-gay attitudes and policies are now so strong that Russia has become “an even tougher place to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual” and that as a result ever more of them are emigrating. Those who remain say that violence against the LGBT community has those who remain thinking “a lot” about doing the same thing (theglobeandmail.com/news/world/gay-russias-choice-back-to-the-closet-or-pack-it-in/article16191888/  andbuzzfeed.com/davidtuller/far-from-russias-biggest-cities-being-gay-means-being-always).
IOC Member Says One-Third of Money Spent on Sochi has Gone Missing.  Gian-Franco Casper, a member of the International Olympic Committee, says that about a third of the 50 billion plus US dollars spent on the Sochi Olympiad has disappeared instead of being spent as nominally intended. (That would be some 16 billion US dollars, only slightly less than Boris Nemtsov estimated had been corruptly diverted in his book on Sochi.) He also says that Russian President Vladimir Putin views the games as a matter ofhis prestige, that Putin’s recent amnesties and pardons were taken for public relations reasons, and that there will be 50,000 security personnel guarding the games (rusplt.ru/news/chlen-mok-razvorovana-tret-potrachennyih-na-olimpiadu-v-sochi-deneg-77230.html).
Romney Says Russia Should Not Have Been Selected to Host Olympiad.  Saying that if it were his choice, Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate, says, he would never have awarded Russia an Olympics because its leaders have not been “particularly collaborative” internationally.  “But it’s not my choice,” he continued. “They are a player on the global stage … but they do strain the view of people like myself as to their leadership and their characterization of the Olympic spirit.” He said that he had no doubt about Vladimir Putin’s “ability to turn the Black Sea resort of Sochi into a fortress” but that “it’s really the intelligence work that goes into the Olympics months and years before the games” that blocks terrorism.  Romney added that it is his “guess that the Russians have done a pretty good job on the intelligence side of things to keep the most dangerous people away” (bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/01/romney_i_wouldnt_have_given_russia_the_winter_gamesespn.go.com/olympics/story/_/id/10246382/mitt-romney-olympic-spirit-threatened-via-sochi-gamesvz.ru/news/2014/1/7/667027.html and itar-tass.com/politika/872627).
Australian Olympians Told Not to Use Social Networks.  Members of Australia’s Olympic team who have already been told not to travel outside of the route between their residences and places of competition in Sochi have now been directed by officials of their national Olympic committee not to make use of social networks when they are in the southern Russian city.  The latter decision appears to reflect both a desire to avoid the problems some Australian competitors got into with social networks at the London Games and concerns about Russian plans to monitor social networks more intensively than ever before (vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/22109-olimpijcam-iz-avstralii-zapretili-v-sochi-polzovatsja-socsetjami and latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-australia-sochi-olympics-safety-20131231,0,4025327.story#axzz2pKdqRwA9).
Volgograd Explosions Challenge Russian Assumptions about Sochi Security.  Russian officials have expected terrorist acts involving the Sochi Games to take place in or near that city and to be carried out by North Caucasians. Instead, the first major actions directed against the games took place in Volgograd and were implemented by an ethnic Russian, thus calling into question the assumptions underlying most of Moscow’s security planning.  The Volgograd bombings, however, did confirm one assumption Moscow has made: any attacks anywhere in Russia in this period will be linked to Sochi no matter whether they are or not (newia.info/12670  andrusi.org/analysis/commentary/ref:C52C6F2B741F18/#.UscDarRcUUO).
Nearly 3,000 Russian Citizens have Died from Terrorism Since Putin Came to Power. Despite Vladimir Putin’s claims that he has brought stability to Russia, at least 2964 Russian citizens have died in approximately 100 terrorist attacks since he became president, according to the Global Terrorism Database, numbers far higher than under his predecessor (aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/fighters-blow-hole-russia-security-plan-20141172210773226.html).
Volgograd Bombings had Three Goals, Turkish Analyst Says. Kerim Has, an expert at the USAK Center for Eurasian Studies, says that the Volgograd bombings had at least three goals: to force a cancellation of the Sochi Olympics or at least make those thinking about attending nervous, to show that Vladimir Putin’s “security concept” is incorrect and inadequate and therefore unlikely to be able to prevent future attack, and to promote ethnic Russian flight from the North Caucasus so that non-Russian and predominantly Muslim nations there will become more predominant (turkishweekly.net/columnist/3833/sochi-olympics-and-terrorism-in-russia.html).
Russia Today Says Sochi is Ready for Visitors; Photographs Show It Isn’t.  The Russia Today television channel continues to insist that Sochi is “ready to receive guests” for the Olympiad, but photographs taken by residents and posted online show that there are many facilities that are not yet finished and others that have been incompletely or only shoddily completed (blogsochi.ru/content/russia-today-sochi-gotov-prinimat-gostei andprivetsochi.ru/blog/auto_sochi/40168.html).
Russian Authorities Continue Harassment of Sochi Environmentalists.  Even as protests in support of Yevgeny Vitishko, the environmental activist who has been sentenced to three years in jail, continue in many Russian cities, the authorities in Krasnoyarsk continue to harass his colleagues by conducting an illegal search of the apartment of Natalnya Kainovskaya, who like Vitishko, has called attention to the illegal actions of Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev (blogsochi.ru/content/svobodu-evgeniyu-vitishko-detalnoe-razbiratelstvo-po-delu-o-%22dache-tkacheva%22 and  blogsochi.ru/content/obyski-u-natali-kalinovskoi-ili-kak-vlast-presleduet-ekologicheskikh-aktivistov-i-pravozashc).
Environmentalists Win One Case, Appear to Have Lost Another.  Residents of Shapsug auls near Sochi have won their case in court, supported by Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus, against the excavation of gravel from a river that flows through their region. They won it, however, only after Olympic contractors had pulled so much gravel out of the riverbed that it has affected the ecosystem and at a time when construction is nearly over.  Meanwhile, officials continue to stall through obfuscation another case involving the destruction of areas in the national park there (ewnc.org/node/13400blogsochi.ru/content/pamyatniki-prirody-opyat-v-opasnosti and blogsochi.ru/content/ushcherb-svyshe-194-000-000-rublei-administrativnoe-pravonarushenie).
Public Meeting in Sochi Calls for Mayor’s Ouster, Improved City Services.  Two hundred Sochi residents assembled at a public meeting, which was organized by the Law and Ordeer NGO and the Social Reform Party, at which they called for the ouster of the city’s mayor, Anatoly Pakhmov, for his continuing failure to protect them against Olympic construction and demanded that city officials improve the provision of basic services like electricity, water, sewage disposal, and housing (blogsochi.ru/content/massovyi-miting-v-tsentre-goroda-sochiprivetsochi.ru/blog/politics_sochi/40076.html,blogsochi.ru/content/rezolyutsiya-mitinga-5-yanvarya-2014-goda-sochi,http://ewnc.org/node/13387  and http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236245/).
Many Sochi Residents Continue to Be Without Electricity, Heat, and Water. Unplanned outages of electricity, heat and water, in addition to all those announced in advance, continue to be the bane of existence not only for many Sochi residents in their apartments but also of local hospitals, kindergartens and other public institutions.  And ever more rather than fewer have to confront torn up streets and sidewalks as Olympic contractors race to put in infrastructure that they did not do earlier.  Some streets have been torn up multiple times, and many sidewalks are dangerous for pedestrians (blogsochi.ru/content/pochemu-net-sveta-v-nashikh-domakhsochinskie-novosti.com/2014/01/03/ andprivetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/39980.html).
More Travails of the Olympic Torch.  The Olympic torch continues to be carried across Russia in what was intended to mobilize the population for the Games, but instead, its passage has only highlighted problems. Not only did the torch continue to go out when it wasn’t supposed to, but officials blocked an ambulance to allow it to pass, prompting some to ask “what is more important: the torch or the life of an individual?”  Elsewhere, people put up signs complaining about mafia-control of the courts, hopeful that doing so might attract broader attention because of media coverage of the torch, or about the enormous sums of money being spent on Sochi when basic needs of the Russian population continue to go unmet. In Kirov, one man voiced his frustration by shouting “Go to hell with your torch and take the Olympics with you!” (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40080.htmltriboona.ru/posts/view/465, and forum-msk.org/material/news/10185668.html).
Sochi Residents Warned about Wild Dogs, Con Artists.  Anyone walking through Sochi at night should be wary of being attacked by a band of wild dogs, and all Sochi residents and visitors should beware of the increasing number of con artists who are now plaguing the city, residents warn (privetsochi.ru/blog/extreme_sochi/40185.html and privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40158.html).
Sochi Policemen on the Beat Shouldn’t Be Blamed for Excesses, Resident Says. Residents and bloggers should stop criticizing low-ranking policemen on the beat for the excesses their bosses have ordered, one resident says.  They  “are also people who are suffering from the Olympics.  Just imaine someonewho for four onths has been called away from his home and family and forced to spend New Year’s and Christmas in a barracks.” The resident adds that “yes, there are various kinds of people in the police … but that’s to be expected as the police are a slice of society and as society is, soo too is the police. Let’s be kind to one another” (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/40182.html).
May Sochi Residents Suffer as Little as Possible During the Games.  According to a man with relatives in Sochi, residents there are having a hard time.  “Undoubtedly, not everything [in Sochi] is bad.  A great deal good and necessary has been done,” he says, but only at a high cost to the residents of “the Olympic reservation.”  He adds that he “wants to wish all of them  the ability to survive [the Olympics] and not lose their sense of humor … In comparison with the years of Olympic insanity behind them, [the time ahead] is a small thing indeed. But they have to be lived through a well” (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/40130.html).
Public Protest Prompts Sochi Authorities to Cart Away One Trash Heap.  Sochi residents have long been infuriated by the willingness of Olympic contractors to ignore the law and dump trash wherever they like. Over the past six months, there have been more protests about this than about almost any other issue. Now, for almost the first time, Sochi residents can claim a small victory: Officials have responded and carted away one trash heap, although they have done nothing about the many other and some suspect that contractors will again dump their construction waste in the same spot that has been cleared (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236103/).
More Bad Weather Threatens Sochi’s Power Lines.  High winds and cold weather in the coming days is likely to harm Sochi’s electricity network, according to city officials. In addition, it is likely to slow construction as well (http://sochiadm.ru/press-sluzhba/25331/).
German Skier Say Russia Should Never Have Been Awarded the Games.  German skier Felix Neureuther says that “Russia should not have been chosen as the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics because of its poor human rights record,” according to GaystarNews. “It’s not right,” he said after winning a World Cup slalom competition in Italy. “The guys from the IOC should think about where to put the Olympic Games. It’s not right to give the Olympic Games to places where they are giving the most money. It should be about the sport, in nations where there is passion” (gaystarnews.com/article/german-skier-felix-neureuther-latest-criticize-russian-gay-propaganda-ban070114).
Circassians Release Two Feature Films about Genocide in Advance of Sochi. Circassians in the United States and Turkey have produced two full-length feature films about the history of their nation, including the genocide their ancestors suffered at the hands of the Russian military in Sochi in 1864. In addition, they have stepped up their campaign to call attention to the disrespect that holding the Olympiad on the site of mass graves represents (pdl.vimeocdn.com/72817/595/197982263.mp4?token=1389121906_b5d30feb3c599157fabc7bdb101021a0 and youtube.com/watch?v=4CYb-Y01GqM&feature=youtube_gdata_player).
Circassian Says World Leaders Should Not Go to Sochi Because of Genocide. Abubekir Murzakanov, the president of the Adyge Khekuh Circassian National Movement, has issued a public appeal to the leaders of the world calling on them to refuse to go to Sochi because of the genocide that Russians committed there against the Circassians in 1864. Genocide, he notes, is “a crime against humanity” far more serious than any other form of discrimination (facebook.com/groups/antisochi/permalink/652228411486573/).
Circassians Angry about Russian Failure to Acknowledge Their History in Sochi. Circassian activists in the North Caucasus and the diaspora say Russian organizers have almost completely ignored the history of the Circassian nation in Sochi, despite simple justice and the requirements of the Olympic Charter. Some say that organizers have devoted far less than one percent of their propaganda about the cultural background of the region to the Circassians whose capital Sochi once was (facebook.com/naima.neflyasheva?hc_location=timeline, January 3).
Russian Journalist Implicitly Recognizes Circassian Genocide.  Russian journalist Yuliya Latynina’s statement that “Russians are genetically predisposed ot genocide” represents an implicit recognition of the genocide Russians conducted against the Circassians in 1864, according to Murat Pshikanov, a Circassian activist (www.facebook.com/pshikanov).
Western Headlines about Olympiad Increasingly Critical.  Headlines like “Are Olympic Visitors Walking iinto a War Zone” and “The Sochi Olympics – the Next Benghazi” reflect increasing criticism in the West of the Sochi Olympiad and especially the security environment of that North Caucasus venue. Such headlines are likely to reduce the number of people likely to travel to the games and may affect how Western governments will react to what is taking place there (news.uk.msn.com/comment-and-analysis/sochi-2014-are-olympic-visitors-walking-into-a-war-zone and video.foxnews.com/v/3019364355001/sochi-olympics-the-next-benghazi/#sp=show-clips).
Bomb Scare Empties Sochi Shopping Mall. When a package labeled “bomb” was found in Sochi’s Sea Mall, the authorities ordered an evacuation, but they determined that the supposed bomb was a fake. No charges against anyone have yet been filed. This event, however, did have the effect of increasing public fears in Sochi and leading many residents to celebrate the New Year’s either at home or outside other enclosed spaces (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236183/,newsru.com/russia/03jan2014/sochi.html and blogsochi.ru/content/srochnaya-evakuatsiya-iz-trts-moremoll).
Will New Security Rules Allow Russian Postal Workers to Steal More? The introduction of a requirement that all packages addressed to Krasnodar kray during the Olympic period be opened by postal authorities is likely to lead to more theft by employees of that agency.  According to some Russian residents, Russian Post is “a branch of the Bermuda triangle on the territory of Russia,” and the new rules will only make that black hole larger (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi2014/40029.html).

Sochi Games Media Center Twice as Large as Moscow’s Red Square.  Reflecting what matters most, the Russian Olympic Committee has opened a 158,000 square meter media ceneter that has space for more than 6500 Russian and foreign journalists (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236295/).

Will Sochi Become St. Vladimirsburg or VladCity?  American analyst John Brown argues that just as St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin’s native city, was built “in part to be a bulwark against the Swedes int eh 18th century, Sochi can be seen as a possibly misguided realpolitik ‘defense’ against separatism in the Caucasus,” a challenge htat “could spark the flame of the dissolution of the Russian Federaiton.”  Given those parallels, he says, Russian officials might well consider renaming Sochi St. Vladimirsburg or VladCity (huffingtonpost.com/john-brown/sochi-vladimirsburg_b_4550761.html).
Sochi Leads Russia in Exploitation of Workers, Labor Activists Say.  The mistreatment of workers, including abuses like non-payment of wages earned, in recent months has been worse in Sochi than anywhere else in the Russian Federation, according to labor activists.  And despite suggestions to the contrary, Central Asian gastarbeiters have not been the only victims. Many Russian workers have also been mistreated, and the complaints of both have beenignored by corporations and officials (south-worker.com/obman-rabochix-na-olimpijskix-strojkax-v-sochi-stal-sistemoj/).
Krasnodar Officials Said Keeping Out Residents of Daghestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia. Kaoly Akhilgov a lawyer and activist, says that Krasnodar kray officials have begun to prevent residents of Daghestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, three unstable regions in the North Caucasus, from entering that region without special permission and say they will continue to do so until the Olympics are over. He also says that Ingush officials are advising residents not to travel to Krasnodar without the approval of their own government (habar.org/?p=27432 and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236361/).
Manezh Demonstrators Unfurl “No Sochi” Sign at Moscow Demonstration.  A Moscow protest in support of those arrested for the May 6 demonstration I the Russian capital included a banner with the slogan “No to the Olympiad.” Police arrested 28 of those taking part (echo.msk.ru/blog/photo_nikita/1233088-echo/ andgrani.ru/Politics/Russia/activism/m.223143.html).
Old Believers’ Cemetery Survives in Sochi Olympic Complex.  Although Russian officials have never expressed concern that Olympic construction may disturb the graves of thousands of Circassians who died in Sochi and environs in 1864, they thankfully have not destroyed an Old Believers’ Cemetery that is now surrounded by Olympic venues but remains intact (ru-nsn.livejournal.com/3997626.html).
Sewage Leaks in Sochi Too Widespread and Serious for Local Officials to Correct. Local officials have turned to Moscow for help in blocking the leaks in Sochi’s sewage system that continue to cause smells and spark complaints from local residents. According to officials, there has not been any serious effort to upgrade the sewage sytem since the end of the Soviet Union (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236226/).
Old Sochi Sign Says ‘Rossiisky;’ New One Says ‘Russky.’  A non-Russian has called attention to the fact that the original sign for Sochi’s Japanese garden uses the word “rossiisky,” which is a political rather than ethnic term for Russians, while the new sign put up by Olympic organizers uses the term “russky” which is an ethnic rather than political one. “So are we non-ethnic Russians or ethnic ones?!  I had thought we had a multi-national country!” (vk.com/blogsochi_ru?w=wall-5042747_41462).
Putin and Lukashenka Play Ice Hockey at Sochi Venue.  Russian President Vladimir Putin teamed up with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, to play ice hockey against a group of Russian all-stars. Putin and Lukashenka were in red; the all-stars, in white (blogsochi.ru/content/putin-i-lukashenko-sygrali-v-khokkei-v-sochi).
Moscow Made Promises about Sochi But Things Turned Out Like Always, Blogger Says.  According to Sochi blogger Valeriy Suchkov, Moscow pledged to liveup to the principles of the Olympic Charter and promote “the harmonious development” of the city, “but in the execution of [the Russian] bureaucrac, any good deed is transformed into its opposite.” So far, the Russian bureaucracy has violated the rights of the city’s residents, destroyed their city,  and deprived them of the right to run their own affairs” (blogsochi.ru/content/sochi-demonstratsiya-styda).
Krasnoyarsk Procuracy Opens Hotline for Reports of Rights Abuses.  The procuracy of Krasoyarsk kray has set up a hotline for residents and visitors to report abuses of civil and human rights during the Olympics and Paralympics (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236261/
Sochi Blogger Detained for Writing Down Police Names and ID Numbers. Police in Sochi detained Aleksey Kuzmin, a Sochi blogger, for writing down the names and identification numbers of some of their colleagues.  They did so even before the imposition of new stricter security rules on January 7 when in Kuzmin’s words, they were given “carte blanche” to harass everyone and anyone in the region (grani.ru/tags/sochi/m.223126.html).
Moscow has Allowed Most Facilities from 1980 Olympiad to Decay.  Given that Moscow has repeatedly insisted that the facilities it has built in Sochi for the Olympiad will be maintained and used for decades to come, several Russians decided to visit the facilities that Moscow built for the 1980 games and see what has happened to those.  Their photographs which have been posted on the Internet reveal “a sad picture” of neglect, disuse and decay and suggest that whatever the Russian authorities say, the situation in Sochi a decade from now will be equally “sad” (skif-tag.livejournal.com/1092874.html).
US Olympians Worried about Security at Sochi. In the wake of the Volgograd bombings, US  speedskater Tucker Fredericks says that he is “just going to stay in the bubble … go to the oval,and go back to my room. And that’s it.” His teammate Jilleanne Rookard says she hopes that Russia’s desire to avoid “national embarrassment” will provide some protection but told the Associated Press that she is worried about the likelihood that spectators will not hav similar protection.  “We worry about our parents, our family, our friends. They’re going to be normal tourists. I’m scared for them” (newsday.com/putin-s-games-could-still-be-compliment-or-curse-1.6734852).
Russian Athletes ‘Trying to Figure Out’ How Best to Use Sochi’s Four Kinds of Snow.  Aleksandr Schastnkh, a Russian Olympic skier, says he and his colleagues are studying the four different kinds of snow that will be on the runs in Sochi – incuding 16 million cubic feet of snow saved from last year – so as to have “maximum acceleration” and give Russian athletes the best chance at the games (rt.com/news/sochi-olympic-games-snow-187/).
Moscow Spending 520 Million US Dollars per Event at Sochi, Four Times as Much as Beijing Did. Sports exports say that the two best measures of the cost of the Sochi Olympiad are the one that indicates that the Russian government is spending on average 520 million US dollars on each event, four times as much as the Chinese government did and the other that shows that there has been a cost overrun of 500 percent in the Russian case, almost three times as much as the Olympic average of 180 percent.  Such figures compensate, as some others do not, for changes in the number of sports represented in the competitions (deadspin.com/how-the-sochi-olympics-became-a-51-billion-quagmire-1493890966).
Islamist Hacker Group Threatens a Cyber War Against Sochi Games.  Anonymous Caucasus, a radical Islamist hacker group that has already broken into the sites of Sberbank and the Bank of Russia, says it will launch a cyber attack on Sochi as part of a broader “Pay-Back for Sochi” campaign to disrupt the competition (backpagelead.com.au/index.php/olympics/11944-the-trouble-with-putins-five-ringed-circus).
LGBT Group Urges German Olympians to Identify Themselves as Members of Sexual Minorities. The Union of Lesbians and Gays of Germany has appealed to members of the German Olympic team to declare themselves to be members of sexual minorities as a way of protesting Moscow’s anti-gay laws and policies (vz.ru/news/2014/1/5/666879.html).
Overstretched, Moscow Using Military for Police Work in North Caucasus. To cope with security challenges that have stretched its police resources to the limit, the Russian government is now using uniformed soldiers as police in Stavropol kray (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236172/  as discussed in windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/01/window-on-eurasia-overstretched-and.html).
Putin’s Constant Visits to Sochi Part of His Effort to Create ‘Simulacrum of a Big Russia.’  Citing Ilf and Petrov’s observation that “parallel to the big worl in which live big people and big things there exists a small world with small people and small things,” commentator Ilya Konstantinov says that President Vladimir Putin’s constant visits to Sochi, visits that are not strictly necessary given that other officials could condct such inspections, are part of the Russian president’s efforts to create “a simulacrum of a Great Russia” (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/80094/).
Snow Leopard, Symbol of Sochi Games, Near Extinction in Russia Because of Poaching. President Vladimir Putin says that the Russian people chose the snow leopard as the mascot for the Sochi Games because it is “strong, powerful, fast and beautiful,” but experts say that there are probably only about 40 of them living in Russia where they have been pushed toward extinction by poachers who sell their skins for 20-30,000 US dollars” in Moscow and Beijing (pri.org/stories/2014-01-02/snow-leopard-sochi-olympics-symbol-near-extinction).
Sochi City Government Alienating Small Business. Despite the fact that small businesses provide 50 percent of the jobs and half of the income of the city, the Sochi city government under Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov has failed to support them, members of the business community say. Worse, he has taken steps that give all the advantages to big firms in advance of the Olympiad.  As a result, some small businessmen say, they want him to leave office as soon as possible and are totally alienated from the Olympic effort.  One said that  “even if [he] were in Sochi during the Olympiad, [he] would watch it only on television” rather than attend any of the competitions (arch-sochi.ru/2012/05/musornaya-politika-sochi-provalena/ andsochinskie-novosti.com/).
Cartoonists Having Field Day with Sochi Games.  At the date of the start of the Olympiad approaches, cartoonists both in the Russian Federation and abroad are increasingly focusing on Sochi and in a highly critical manner.  For some examples, see the collection of cariacatures atblogsochi.ru/content/karikatury-narisovannye-k-olimpiade-v-sochi and also th cartoon aatfacebook.com/photo.php?fbid=557960370961898&set=a.200485616709377.46743.156326144458658&type=3&theater).
After Olympiad, Sochi to Be Left With Bills It Can’t Pay and Facilities It Can’t Support.  Even as many Sochi residents say they will be glad when the Olympiad is over, officials and analysts are pointing to the fact that Sochi faces a horrible future after that: enormous investment requirements in infrastructure like water, electricity and sewer lines which haven’t been fully updated despite the games and which broke down more than 1,000 times last year, the end of tax revenues from Olympic construction firms that will be departing, rapidly falling real estate values and tax revenues, the likelihood of numerous bankruptcies and the tearing down of hotels and other buildings constructed for the Olympics, and the city’s limited ability to expand given its location.  As a result, many have concluded that Sochi will decay and relatively rapidly unless it can somehow attract a continuing flow of major international events and competitions to attract outside investment, a flow Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to promote but may not be able to sustain (svpressa.ru/society/article/80205/  and /ru.znatock.com/docs/index-38991.html).
Share Button

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 5 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

WINDOW ON EURASIA: SOCHI COUNTDOWN – 5 WEEKS TO THE OLYMPIAD IN THE NORTH CAUCASUS

Note:  This is my 45th 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

Volgograd Terrorist Acts Seen Helping Putin Change Focus of Sochi Coverage … “The Volgograd bombings won’t ruin Russia’s Sochi Olympics,”according to commentator Peter Weber. “In fact, [they] may help Vladimir Putin” by allowing him to refocus Western coverge of the games.  Up to now, he writes, “Western coverage of the Games has been mixed with protests over Russia’s anti-gay laws. President Obama is pointedly sending over a delegation with two openly gay athletes, for example. Russia is already calling for international solidarity, and if the focus of the Games shifts to thwarting terrorism, history tells us that terrorism threats trump just about every other issue. After all, fighting Islamist terrorists is one of the few things Putin’s Russia and Obama’s America have in common” (theweek.com/article/index/254593/why-the-volgograd-bombings-wont-ruin-russias-sochi-olympics).
… Winning Him Additional Support among Russian Nationalists … In the “Berliner Zeitung,” commentator Ulrich Krökel says that the Volgograd explosions will work to Putin’s advantage inanother way: they will allow him to play up the nationalist themes he has been using in recent months and win more support from ethnic Russians against others. But he notes that “despite and perhaps maybe because Putin is a anatic about security, [Russia] is not a stable country.” Instead, “Russia’s multi-national society is held in check exclusively by the power apparatus and raw  materials wealth” (inopressa.ru/article/30Dec2013/inotheme/volgograd_obzor.html).
… And Setting Stage for Moscow to Denounce Domestic Opponents as Backers of Terrorism and Those Foreign Leaders Who Don’t Come as Cowards. In “Yezhednevny zhurnal,” Russian commentator Aleksandr Ryklin says that the Kremlin will use the Volgograd violence both domestically and internationally. It will “call those who refuse to come to our Games cowards … and label the internal opposition which has called for one or another kind of boycott of the Olympic Games in Sochi as accomplices of the terrorists” (ej.ru/?a=note&id=24114).
Volgograd Bombings Highlight Terrorist Risks and Shortcomings in Russian Approach.  Commentators in Russia and abroad said that the Volgograd bombings not only had undercut Putin’s charm offensive against the West but called attention both to the difficulties of combatting terrorist actions by small groups of people and shortcomings in the Russian effort.  Several observers suggested that the terrorists were clearly more “professional” in their actions than the Russian security services, that the FSB had lost too many good people to retirement in recent years, that Russian officials had been slow to introduce effective security checks at transportation facilities,and that, as a result, more attacks can be expected in the future.  At the same time, there was general agreement in both Russia and the West that the attacks were linked to the North Caucasus and timed to affect Sochi (tbo.com/ap/russian-suicide-bombings-raise-concern-over-sochi-olympics-20131230/, kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236053/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236053/washingtonpost.com/world/second-bombing-in-two-days-hits-volgograd-in-southern-russia-32-dead-in-the-two-attacks/2013/12/30/69ae1c1c-7140-11e3-8def-a33011492df2_story.html?wprss=rss_world,   rferl.org/content/terrorism-olympics-russia-sochi/25215761.htmlhttp://izvestia.ru/news/563135).
Recent Security Exercise in Sochi Far From Successful, MVD Sources Say. The recent security exerecise in Sochi failed to stop 25 of the 48 people posing as terrorists from carrying out their missions, according to Sergey Ogurtsov, deputy head of the Sochi interior ministry administration. That failure, according to a local journalist, highlighted how relatively easy it would be for someone to carry out a terrorist attack, despite everything that Moscow has done. The one thing the security exercise did do, that journalist said, was to expel many of the migrant workers who had been in the city. Indeed, Semen Simonov, coordinator of the Migration and Law network in Sochi, “many of the measures taken are not very effective for capturing terrorists but they do harm the interests, rights, and freedoms of citizens” (kavpolit.com/antiterror-i-olimpiada-gde-slaboe-zveno/).
Moscow has Already Spent 2.5 Billion US Dollars on Sochi Security  As of June 2013, Russian analyst Sergey Markedonov says, the Russian government had spent 2.5 billion US dollars on security in Sochi. Before the games are over, it will undoubtedly spend even more, with this line item alone being as large or larger than the total amount spent for most past winter Olympiads. At the same time, Markedonov adds, Moscow has been constrained somewhat in the security area lest its measures in this area become the story of the Sochi games (caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=21229).
Volgograd Attacks Point to Mistake of Awarding Olympics to Sochi, Satter Says.David Satter, an expert on Russia, says that “the terrorist attacks in Volgograd on December 29 and 30 are an ominous sign that the decision to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi may lead to one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the Olympics. The first danger is from the terrorists.     In addition to the danger from terrorists, however, there is also a danger from the Russian forces. As past experience shows, in a hostage situation, the Russians will make no effort to spare innocent lives. Because of the irresponsibility of the Olympic Committee in indulging Putin’s desire for a propaganda spectacular, the stage may now be set for there to be many more” (edition.cnn.com/2013/12/31/opinion/opinion-russia-terror-sochi/index.html?hpt=hp_t2).
Russian Olympic Committee Sees No Need for More Security at Sochi.  Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov says that despite the terrorist attacks in Volgograd, Moscow has already taken “all necessary security measures” in Sochi and that “extra security measures … will not be taken.”  He mentioned that the new fan passports will allow for both security and convenience (interfax.ru/sport/news/349666,en.rsport.ru/olympics/20131230/711762565.htmlng.ru/news/453960.html  anden.rsport.ru/olympics/20131230/711762565.html).

IOC’s Bach Condemns Volgograd Attacks, Expresses Confidence in Sochi Security.  In a statement released after the two bombings in Volgograd, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, expressed his “condolences to the Russian people,” adding that he is “certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games … This is a despicable attack on innocent people and the entire Olympic movement joins me in utterly condemning this cowardly act. Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims” (en.rsport.ru/olympics/20131230/711831447.html,usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/12/30/sochi-winter-games-bombings-russia-putin-security-ioc/4248745/  and craveonline.com/sports/articles/623711-sochi-olympics-2014-bombings-question-safety).

US Government and Olympic Committee Offer ‘Full Support’ to Moscow After Volgograd Bombings. American officials and the US Olympic Committee offered their “full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games” and said they “would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants.” US officials said that they have had “extensive contacts” with their Russian counterparts over Sochi security, adding that Washington has taken “lots of security precautions” of its own regarding the games(usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/12/30/sochi-winter-games-bombings-russia-putin-security-ioc/4248745/kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236071/ andreuters.com/article/2013/12/30/us-usa-russia-olympics-idUSBRE9BT0KL20131230).
Moscow ‘Not Really Concerned’ US President Isn’t Coming to Sochi.  Aleksandr Zhurkov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee, said that his group is “not really concerned” that President Barack Obama has decided not to attend the Sochi Olympiad.  The Olympics, Zhukov said, “are the competition of outstanding sportmen and this is the main reason why they are interesting. It’s not a summit which only the country leaders attend. So we’re not really concerned about it” (worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/26/22060000-russia-not-really-concerned-about-obamas-absence-from-sochi-olympics?lite).
More than 20 European Leaders Will Be at Sochi, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Says.  Vladimir Titov, Russia’s first deputy foreign minister, says that “it is already clear that more than 20 European countries will be represented in [Sochi] at the level of chief of state or head of government as well as royalty.” He added that plans for bilateral meetings are still being “formulated” (ria.ru/interview/20131231/987383131.html).
Everything is ‘Ready’ for Olympiad and Security is ‘Guaranteed,’ Russia Today Says. Those who rely on the Russia Today television channel were told on New Year’s Day that “everything is ready for the Olympic Games in Sochi” and  that “security will be guaranteed for all athletes and guests” who attend (blogsochi.ru/content/russia-today-v-sochi-vse-gotovo-k-olimpiiskim-igram and
Russian Prime Minister ‘Not Sure’ Olympics will Go Smoothly.  Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medveev says that he is certain that everything will in fact be ready for the opening of the Sochi Olympiad on February 7, but he added that “to tell you the truth, I’m not sure that everything will be ideal and smooth.” At the same time, he suggested that he doesn’t “think we’ll have the worst variant” and that he doesn’t “have any concerns about the Olympics” (en.ria.ru/sochi2014/20131228/185992398/Medvedev-Not-Sure-of-Smooth-Sochi-Olympics.html).
‘Overly Tight’ Security at Sochi Leading Terrorists to Attack Elsewhere, British Expert Says.  Matthew Clements, an analyst at HIS Country Risk in London, says that Moscow has devoted so much attention to increasing security at Sochi that it has lessened its control over other regions  As a result, as the attacks in Volgograd show, terrorists are exploiting that situation and launching attacks elsewhere (vedomosti.ru/politics/news/20996311/ft-terakty-v-volgograde-podorvali-doverie-k-obespecheniyu#ixzz2pBJ7J9Gg).
With Sochi, Putin Trying but Failing to Re-Brand Russia and Himself, US Paper Says. The Chicago Tribune says in an editorial that “Putin may have thought hosting the Olympics would boost his stature in Russia and elsewhere. The actual effect, though, has been to focus more attention on his thin skin, contempt for Western values and unquenchable need for control. So even his gesture of charity toward the prisoners he freed merely underscored the arbitrary, secretive nature of his rule, while reminding everyone that those people should never have been jailed in the first place.The Winter Olympics could have been Putin’s opportunity to show the world a country far more humane, democratic and open than it was when the Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. Instead, he is likely to face protests, overt or oblique, by athletes and spectators. He will find foreign news media examining how he steered Russia off the democratic path it took after the collapse of communism.Unlike the regime that held power in 1980, Putin has avoided a mass boycott of the festivities by other nations. But he won’t avoid a spotlight that reminds the world of his abuses” (chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-russia-putin-olympics-0102-20140102,0,2986892.story ).
Don’t Cancel Sochi Games but Move the Competitions Elsewhere, US Columnist Urges.  Philip Hersh, a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune, offers a creative solution for getting around “the problem of having the Winter Games in a hard-to-reach locale with a subtropical climate, repression of gay rights, obscene spending (and related corruption), environmental despoilment and human rights abuses of its residents. And, oh yes, apparently serious threats to disrupt the Games by nationalist insurgents — aka terrorists — from nearby Chechnya. (Not to mention Dagestan, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.)” The answer, he says, “isn’t to cancel the Olympics. And it’s too late to move them en masse. I have another idea: Stage them — and the Paralympics — over the regularly scheduled time period in manageable pieces at some of the cities or countries that have been previous Winter Olympic hosts, many of which have World Cup competitions every year. Because 99 percent of the world consumes the Olympics via television, some people may not even notice the difference …  To those who say this would be giving in to terrorists, my reply simply would be that it is, rather, an 11th-hour return to sanity after the misguided International Olympic Committee decision in 2007 to indulge Putin’s folly. This is how my 2014 Olympics would play out: The opening and closing ceremonies can stay in Sochi. In lieu of athletes, the thousands of military who would be on hand can march into the stadium, which will be filled with all the friends of Putin who have gotten rich off the Games.Is this a joke? No less so than the idea to give the 2014 Winter Olympics to Sochi in the first place” (chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-a-lesson-plan-to-spare-the-olympics-from-sochi-20140101,0,3859512.column).
FSB Approach to Sochi Security, ‘Questionable at Best,’ Soldatov Says. Andrey Soldatov, editor of Agentura.ru and Russia’s leading independent analyst on that country’s security services, “the way in which the Russian secret services [are] responding to the threat looks questionable at the very least.”  Instead of putting counter-terrorist experts in charge of the effort, the FSB has put its “main spy hunter.” Moreover, Soldatov says, “it seems the Russian secret services do not understand that maintaining control over everyone and everything (essentially the idea inherited from the Soviet past) and preventing a terrorist attack are far from being the same thing” (telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10544470/Russia-terror-analysis-Volgograd-and-an-Olympics-under-threat.html).
Businessweek Documents ‘Waste and Corruption’ of Putin’s Games.  In the current issue of
“Businessweek,” Joshua Yaffa documents what he calls “the waste and corruption of Vladimir Putin’s 2014 Winter Olympics,” including paying off Putin’s friends, massive kickbacks, poor planning and mafia-like interactions of the players, government and non-government alike.  At the same time, he concludes that Sochi is, in the words of one of those he interviewed, hardly unique. “You will see the same thing, maybe even more,” elsewhere in Putin’s Russia. Indeed, his interlocutor said, “Sochi is just what is happening in Russia everywhere” (businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-02/the-2014-winter-olympics-in-sochi-cost-51-billion).

Russian Officials Collecting Detailed Information from and about Activists. Activists in Sochi and adjoining parts of the North Caucasus have been complaining for the last several weeks that security officials, working from a list, are forcing anyone that the Russian government deems unreliable to provide detailed information about themselves and their activities between now and the end of the Sochi Games.  This week, more information about the list became available in a report by Olga Loginova in “Nezavisimaya gazeta.”  She writes that “criminal investigation departments have required those considered inclined to engage in extremist activities to provide detailed information and subject themselves to official supervision” To aid the authorities, such people are required to show up at police stations and provide information about any special physical characteristics, information on drug use, and data about their organizational affiliations (ng.ru/regions/2013-12-27/1_sochi.html and sobkorr.ru/news/2/52BD2F6BB5724.html).

Olympic Torch has a Better Week.  Only one serious incident involving the Olympic torch was reported this holiday week. In Samara, after one torch would not light the next one, a man lit the new torch with a lighter and then the torch burned out of control.  It was thrown to the ground, smothered by a blanket of some kind, and a replacement torch was found and ignited by a lighter. Meanwhile, prices for a torch on Internet sites continued to rise, reaching 300,000 rubles (10,000 US dollars) in some cases, and officials along the route took the opportunity to buy torches for 12,800 rubles (400 US dollars), perhaps in the hopes of making a quick profit (http://www.echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/1226655-echo/privetsochi.ru/blog/humor/39830.html and vesti-sochi.tv/olimpiada/22025-glava-chuvashii-vykupil-svoj-olimpijskij-fakel).

Many in North Caucasus Expect Crackdown, Even New War, After Sochi.  People in the North Caucasus say that they fear Moscow will become even more repressive after the Olympiad when international attention will shift away from their region and that the Russian government may even launch a new war (vz.ru/columns/2013/12/27/666377.html,svpressa.ru/blogs/article/79845/ and http://svpressa.ru/politic/article/79817/).
‘YMCA’ Writer Won’t Object to Use of Song at Sochi  Victor Willis, the original lead singer of Village People and author of the lyrics for its 1978 hit, says that although it was not “written as a song for the gay community,” if that community “want to use the song that way, go right ahead,” although he said that he would not perform it himself. Some LGBT activists have called for using it as a protest anthem at the Sochi Games (insidethegames.biz/olympics/winter-olympics/2014/1017652-y-m-c-a-writer-does-not-want-song-to-become-anti-gay-protest-anthem-of-sochi-2014).
Olympic Athletes Concerned about Sochi Security After Volgograd.  US speedskater Jilleanne Rookard said that she is “scared [Russia’s] security may be involved [in the violence]. I don’t know if Inecessarily trust their security forces I’m sure they want to save their image and their pride”  Swedish hockey player Johan Franzen said that now “the security will be higher [in Sochi] than they intended from the start” (thetranscript.com/localsports/ci_24825233/2014-sochi-games-athletes-wary-threats).
Australia May Not Send Its Athletes to Sochi Because of Security Threats.  Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, says that Canberra may not allow its Olympic team to go to Sochi because of its concerns about security there. The Australian Olympic Committee has already announced that because of security concerns, “None of [Australia’s] athletes will be traveling to or from Sochi by car, bus or train (all will be traveling by air); none will be training or competing outside of Sochi in Russia; and none will be holidaying elsewhere in Russia after the Games” (latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-australia-sochi-olympics-safety-20131231,0,4025327.story#axzz2pKdqRwA9theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/chance-of-travel-ban-for-sochi-says-julie-bishop/story-fn59nm2j-1226792220281#mm-premium andkavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/12/30/102542.shtml).
Amnesties All about Improving Russia’s Image Before Sochi, Russian Commentators Say. Moscow’s recent amnesties do not represent any “thaw” in Russian politics but are all part of a broader effort to improve Russia’s image in advance of the Sochi Olympiad, according to three leading Russian commentators with whom the Nakanune.ru news agency spoke (nakanune.ru/articles/18481/ ).
Sochi is ‘Opposite of What an Olympic City Should Be,’ Italian Athlete Says. Federica Brignone, an Italian skier, says that Sochi is “the opposite of what an Olympic city should be,” that it “lacks the Olympic spirit,” and that security measures have put a damper on the way in which athletes and fans interact.  “To put it in simplest terms,” she said, one can say that as an athletic venue, “Sochi … is a ghost city built in an empty space, ugly and without residents, memory or freedom” (inopress.ru/article/31Dec2013/repubblica/sochi.html).
‘Welcome to Sochi’ Artist Now Preparing Olympic Calendar ‘with Erotic Subtext.’ Vasily Slonov, who attracted international attention for his “Welcometo Sochi-2014” series of posters, now says he is preparing an Olympic calendar “with an erotic subtext” as a way to attract even more attention and to criticize Moscow’s anti-gay policies (globalsib.com/19115/).
Olympic Spending Now Affecting Russia’s Banking Sector.  The amount of money Moscow has been spending in preparation for the Sochi Olympics is affecting ever more sectors of Russian life, according to a Russian analyst, forcing cutbacks in spending on a variety of projects and now hitting the banking sector, both directly and as a result of concerns that Russian banks may face even larger problems ahead if Sochi’s costs go up and the Russian economy continues to stagnate or deteriorate (apn.ru/publications/article30829.htm).
Sovkhoz ‘Rossiya’ a Metonym for the Problems of Sochi and Russia.  The residents of Sovkhoz “Rossiya,” the last population point before the Olympic Park, face a concentration of all the problems that other residents of the Olympic city and indeed much of Russia now face: bad roads and sidewalks, regular power and water outages, many the result of Olympic construction, sewage lines that are either badly connected or not connected at all, terrible smells, the destruction of much of the beach and green spaces, and a sense that officials are totally uninterested in doing anything about the problems of the people (kavpolit.com/chto-poluchila-rossiya-ot-olimpiady/).
Illegal Construction Waste Sites Grow and Multiply in Sochi.  Sochi residents continue to find new trash heaps, all of them illegal and a threat to public health, the result of illegal dumping by Olympic contractors and the failure of the authorities to enforce the law. Several groups of citizens have organized protests and officials have promised to help but so far there is little evidence of any improvement (blogsochi.ru/content/svalka-imeni-morisa-torezakavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236103/ and blogsochi.ru/content/pensionery-poobeshchali-perekryt-ulitsu-trebuya-ot-mestnykh-vlastei-ubrat-musor).
Olympic Construction Leads to Massive Power Outages in Sochi. Some  2,000 Sochi residents were left without power after Olympic contractors mistakenly cut through a major electric line, the latest  example of such accidents and a problem that seems to be increasing as the contractors cut corners to try to finish the construction that Moscow officials insist is already finished (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235979/  and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235896/).
Olympic Contractors Repeatedly Tear Up Roads and Sidewalks.  Sochi residents have watched as contractors dig up roads and highways, then repave them,and then dig them up again because there does not seem to be any plan to install infrastructure all at once and then pave once and for all. As a result, the roads are poorly installed, leading to the formation of huge sinkholes dangerous for cars and people alike, dust and mud are regular features of life in the city, and many residents cannot get to school or work because the roads are obstacles rather than pathways (privetsochi.ru/blog/sitiproblem/39876.html,privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/39824.html
Raw Sewage Flowing into Streets, Rivers and Black Sea.  Because sewage lines have either been improperly installed or not installed at all, raw sewage with all the smells and dangers to health and the environment it involves is flowing into the streets, rivers, and even the Black Sea in the Sochi region. The situation appears to have gotten worse as construction has been speeded up in recent weeks (blogsochi.ru/content/kanalizatsiya-po-ulitse-krasnaya and
Sochi Officials Close Public Markets Before Opening Promised New One.  Officials have closed several publc markets, possibly to enhance security but leaving Sochi residents with few choices to buy food, long before the new and more modern market the officials have promised to open later this year (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/39817.html).
No Insulin Available for Sochi Residents.  Sochi pharmacies have run out of insulin, leaving the city’s numerous diabetics at high risk of illness or even death.  Some of them are asking who is responsible but so far have received no answer.  In general, health care facilities for residents have deteriorated even as officials have promised world-class medical care for Olympic visitors (privetsochi.ru/blog/Wailing_wall/39761.html andprivetsochi.ru/blog/med_sochi/39772.html).
Situation of Sochi Residents So Dire that Human Rights Watch Speaks in Their Defense. As a result of Olympic construction, Sochi residents have been left without power, heat, water, road access, and sanitation but with massive and illegal trash heaps and impassable streets and roads, a situation that has prompted Human Rights Watch to speak out on their behalf.  The organization’s Jane Buchanan said she was doing so because local officials were either ignoring the problem altogether or taking steps to suppress those who were calling attention to it (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236054/).
Sochi Mayor Admits to Being Involved with ‘Catastrophically Great Work’… Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov who has angered city residents for his failures to protect them against the depradatios of Olympic construction admits that over the past five years he has been involved in “catastrophically great work,” an admission that says more than he perhaps intended. He says road problems have been solved but that difficulties with electricity, water and heat remain (sochinskie-novosti.com/ /).
… Says He’ll Run for Re-Election … Despite polls showing that two out of three Sochi residents don’t trust him, Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov says he will run for another term – or as Blogsochi.ru put it, “threatens” residents with more of the same (blogsochi.ru/content/zhitelyam-sochi-grozit-vtoroi-srok-anatoliya-pakhomova and kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235837/).
… But Dismantles Much-Criticized New Year’s Tree. After the city New Year’s tree, an artificial one covered with pictures of real flowers, became the object of ridicule, Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov for once has backed down and removed the pictures, putting up more normal lights. But the mayor may have made the situation worse by saying at a press conference “how difficult” he found it to take this decision (blogsochi.ru/content/anatolii-pakhomov-o-%C2%ABchudo-yudo%C2%BB-elke-vozle-ofisa-gk-%C2%ABolimpstroi%C2%BB).
Sochi Resident Wants to Know If He Can Have Foreigners in His Home. One Sochi resident has asked Privetsochi.ru whether it is possible to have “foreigners (not from the near abroad) in their homes.”  The blog responded that one must “temporarily register” the foreigner as being at your address and keep the registration certificate (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/39908.html).
PrivetSochi Says New Law Makes It Impossible for Blog to Announce Some Meetings.  A new measure signed into law by President Vladimir Putin imposing criminal penalties not only on those who submit a news item about an upcoming meeting that may have goals the authorities do not approve of but also on the site itself means that the blog will be far more cautious than it has in publishing such announcements (privetsochi.ru/blog/sochi_site/39903.html).
Demolition of Caucasus Riviera Complex Won’t Be Completed Before Olympiad. The demolition of the Caucasus Rivier complex will be suspended during the Olympics because work crews will not be able to finish the job before the games begin. (http://www.sochinskie-novosti.com/).
For Security, Russian Post Announces Restrictions on Mail to Sochi. From now until March 31, the Russian postal authorities will require that anyone sending a package to Sochi, the surrounding Krasnodar kray, and the Aygey Republic bring it unopened to a post office. The authorities have also published a new list of banned items, including among other things firearms, explosives, and cash(russianpost.ru/rp/press/ru/home/newscompany/item?newsid=8156 and  russianpost.ru/rp/servise/ru/home/postuslug/goodslist).
Russian Efforts to Suppress Environmentalists in Sochi Diverse and Longstanding. Russian officials have devoted particular attention to blocking the work of Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus in large part it appears because the group has not only exposed massive violations of environmental laws and commitments during Olympic construction but also reported on the ways that officials from Vladimir Putin on down have done whatever they want to make their own vacation residences there meet their needs.  This official campaign to “neutralize” EWNC is chronicled in the organization’s annual report at ewnc.org/node/13366.
Vitishko Appeals Three-Year Sentence, Gains More Suppport.  Yevgeny Vitishko, an EWNC activist, has appealed his three-year sentence and remains out of jail while the appeal proceeds. There have been demonstrations on his behalf in numerous Russian cities and abroad. In Sochi itself, he gave a press conference,which had to be kept secret until the last minute to prevent the Russian security services from blocking it that attracted a large group of journalists from other countries (ewnc.org/node/13362 http://ewnc.org/node/13347ewnc.org/node/13342  and newizv.ru/society/2013-12-27/194926-ot-olimpiady-podalshe.html).
Four EWNC Activists Detained but Released Unbowed.  Four Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus activists, Aleksey Mandrigelya, Anna Mikhailova, Tatyana Borisova, and Valentina Borisova, were arrested and held for 24 hours apparently because they were continuing the group’s investigation of an illegal fence that Governor Aleksandr Tkachev has had erected around his property on public land.  They were kept in horrific conditions but on their release on January 1 were unbowed and carried a sign indicating that for the environment 2014 is already 1937 (facebook.com/notes/environmental-watch-on-north-caucasus/four-more-activists-victims-of-governors-illegal-fence/10152193277163833 http://ewnc.org/node/13352  and
Berlin Protesters Call for Recognition of Circassian Genocide and Boycott of Sochi Games.  Members of the Circassian-Russian Union for Justice, joined by Kurdish, Israeli, Daghestani and Turkish activists, organzed a demonstration in front of Berlin’s Russian House of Science and Culture to demand the right of return for Circassians, international recognition of the Circassian genocide, the restoration of a Circassian state in the North Caucasus, and an end of racism and xenophobia in the Russian Federation.  Some of those taking part carried signs calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympiad (kwas-1972.livejournal.com/708775.htmland   facebook.com/groups/CircassiansGenocideSurvivors/permalink/564224573657327/).
FSB May Stage Terrorist Provocation at Sochi, Circassian National Movement Warns.  The Circassian National Movement says that it fears the FSB will carry out a “mega-terrorist action in Sochi” in order to place the blame on the Circassians and thus justify in the eyes of some further repression of the Circassian nation.  It says Circassians oppose all such violence and support only “civilized methods of struggle” (freecircassia.ucoz.com/news/oficialnoe_zajavlenie_cherkesskogo_nacionalnogo_dvizhenija/2013-12-17-352).
Coca-Cola Puts Up, Then Takes Down Pictures of Those Protesting Its Sochi Sponsorship.  LGBT activists were surprised when Coca-Cola posted pictures of some of those who have staged protests against the company for its sponsorship of the Olympics given Moscow’s anti-gay policies, but they were equally surprised when they discovered that “the photographs have now disappeared” from the company’s website (pinknews.co.uk/2013/12/30/coca-cola-deletes-photos-of-gay-rights-protest-against-its-sochi-2014-sponsorship/).
Volgograd Blasts Latest of 32 Terrorist Incidents Involving Fatalities in 2013.  The Kavkaz-Uzel.ru news agency says that the two terrorist incidents in Volgograd bring to 32 the number of such incidents involving one or more deaths in the North Caucasus over the last year. It notes that “many experts have more than once spoken about the danger of possible terrorist acts of extremists directed at guests and participants of the 2014 Games” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235965/).
Memorial Issues Special Report on Instability in the North Caucasus. The Memorial Human Rights Center has issued a new book assembling its quarterly reports on the North Caucasus since 2009. Prepared by Memorial’s OlegOrlov, the book, entitled “Three Years of ‘Stability,’” in fact highlights the continuing instability in the region.  According to Memorial’s head, Aleksandr Cherkashov, there are now “two ‘authors’” of what is taking place there: “the armed underground and the Russian federal authorities which are carrying out a policy of struggle with the band formations” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/235973/).
Bookings at Sochi Hotels Lag Behind Predictions, Officials Say.  The Sochi Organizing Committee was expected to rent 3,000 rooms at hotels in Sochi for the events, but to date, it has reserved only 613, just one of the reasons why overall bookings at many but far from all hotels in the Olympic city currently lag what had been projected  As a result, at least some hotel owners are considering converting their rooms to condominiums and offering them for sale while attention is focused on the city.  (bfm.ru/news/240247?doctype=article).
Blogger Suggests Olympic Torch in Sochi is Giving the World the Finger.  In a post on Blogsochi.ru, one writer says that whatever Moscow intended, the Olympic torch that will stay lit during the games represents in his mind what can only be “our response to the world according to Freud” (blogsochi.ru/content/nash-otvet-miru-po-freidu).
FMS Office Open Only One Hour Each Work Day for Migrants to Register.  In yet another move clearly intended to force gastarbeiters to leave Sochi, the Federal Migration Service has opened the office  such workers must visit to gain registration only one hour each working day.  According to Blogsochi.ru, the lines are long and many of those in them are extremely frustrated (blogsochi.ru/content/ufms-%E2%80%93-khozhdenie-po-mukam-prodolzhaetsya).
Handicapped Face Dangers in Sochi. Despite Moscow’s pledge to ensure that the Olympics will be accessible to all persons with physical handicaps, a requirement of getting the Games, activists in Sochi have documented that in many places, the special strips designed to warn the blind that they are at the edge of a road or rail line are so poorly attached that they are coming off.  According to one, “if someone without good eyesight tries to rely on them, he could become an invalid confined to a wheelchair” (blogsochi.ru/content/taktilnye-polosy-v-olimpiiskom-sochi and http://blogsochi.ru/content/dostupnaya-sreda%E2%80%A6-otkleilas).
After the Games, Sochi Makes Plan for Becoming a ‘Resort without Tourists.” Because its projected income will fall faster than its projected expenses, the Sochi city government is planning to sell off some of its property beginning as early as later this year.  In addition, in looking to the future, the city is planning to fundamentally revise its current general plan given that it is going to be, in the words of officials, “a resort without tourists” (sochinskie-novosti.com/  and sochinskie-novosti.com/).
Unpaid for Two Months, Sochi Workers Take to the Streets. A group of workers who have been preparing Sochi for the Olympics has gone into the streets to demand that their corporate employers pay them what they are owed. Many have not been paid for two months.  Others have appealed to prosecutors and the police, but the latter refused to accept their declarations (blogsochi.ru/content/v-sochi-rabochim-gotovivshim-gorod-k-olimpiade-2-mesyatsa-ne-platyat-zarplatu  and  www.sochinskie-novosti.com/ ).
Circassian Genocide of 1864 Recounted in National Geographic.  The January issue of “National Geographic” provides a chilling retelling of the Circassian genocide of 1864.  “The Circassians made their last stand in the small canyon that is now called Krasnaya Polyana,” one of the Sochi Olympiad venues.  “After their surrender in 1864 the Circassians were expelled, and refugees died by the thousands on their way to Sochi. Survivors were shipped to various corners of the Ottoman Empire. Some of them died aboard the Turkish vessels, cast overboard into the Black Sea” (ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/sochi-russia/forrest-text?rptregcta=reg_free_np&rptregcampaign=20131016_rw_membership_n1p_intl_ot_w#).
Sochi Ethnographic Museum Focuses on Circassians and Those Who Displaced Them.  The museum contains some 1,000 items on the Shapsugs, a sub-group of the Circassian nation and its millennia in the region, but also on the history of the culture of the various nationalities who arrived after the Circassians were expelled from the region in 1864. It is possible that Russian officials will point to the existence of this museum as evidence that they are not ignoring the Circassian issue during the games, although Circassians say that the museum itself is more about anthropology than history and contains little or nothing about the tragedies their nation has suffered over the last two hundred years at the hands of Russian forces (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=691450694232531&id=192171867493752).
Share Button

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.

…………………………………………………………….

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,

………………………………………………………..

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)

…………………………………………………………

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

…………………………………………………………

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.

…………………………………………………………

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.

https://www.facebook.com/Countdown150Days

Share Button

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

892372

/permalink/186041661594551/, justicefornorthcaucasus.info/?p=1251671846,freecircassia.ucoz.com/news/moskva_usilila_repressii_protiv_cherkesov_v_

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).
Share Button