Friday, February 22, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown -- 50 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

Note:  This is my second 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 of 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  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble

Russians Focusing on What Sochi Spending is Really Costing Them.  Moscow news outlets are telling their readers and viewers that for what Moscow is spending on the Sochi Games, the Russian could have built sports facilities for all Russians and 31 million square meters or housing, something that would have allowed 1.5 million Russians to have completely new homes (

Firing of North Caucasian Who Led Tourism Effort for Sochi Slows Progress. The ouster of Akhmed Bilalov as the official in charge of tourism development near Sochi may have been part of a Kremlin power play – Bilalov is reputedly a Medvedev man – but it has  offended many in the North Caucasus because he is the latest North Caucasian to be pushed aside by Moscow and worried Sochi backers because it may further delay tourism construction (, and

Someone is Killing Homeless Animals in Sochi. Someone, possibly someone who wants to clean up Sochi in advance of the games, is putting out poison to kill homeless animals, an approach that placards there say threatens children who may ingest the poisons instead (

Olympic Projects Destroying Green Areas in and around Sochi. Green zones in Sochi and surrounding areas are being destroyed by Olympic construction, angering local residents and forcing local police to launch an investigation ( and

Sochi Organizers Hiding, Not Disposing Trash. In their rush to complete work, those building the Olympic sites and supporting facilities are hiding their trash rather than disposing of it according to Russian laws and international standards (

Sochi Residents Think They Will Suffer Even AFTER the Games. Their hopes that the Olympics would improve their lives having been dashed, Sochi residents now fear that things will be even worse for them after the games are completed and wealthy Muscovites move in to the resorts (

Some Olympic Buildings Not Connected to Sewers. One measure of the shortcuts some builders have taken, local Sochi residents say, is that those involved in construction of Olympic venues and support facilities have not bothered to connect some of these buildings to the sewer system ( ).

Sochi Olympics May Save North Caucasus Republics But Not Their Leaders. The Kremlin’s overarching concern that the North Caucasus at least appear stable in advance of the Sochi Games probably has saved the republics of that region from being amalgamated but won’t save the leaders of any of them who fail to deliver (,, and

A Model for Sochi? Kazan Activists Plan to Tell Sports Visitors About Political Problems There. Democratic activists in Kazan have announced plans to tell visitors to upcoming sporting events there about political repression in Tatarstan and other Middle Volga republics, a model for what some in Sochi may do at the Olympics there ( and

More People Asking Why Moscow is Holding a Winter Olympics in the Subtropics. Ever more people in the Russian Federation are asking what Moscow was thinking when it decided that the best place in that country to hold a winter Olympiad would be in a subtropical zone (  and

Sochi Court Rules Against Those Protesting Against Olympic Construction. A Russian court has ordered local workers to cease and desist any protest actions at Olympic sites (

Forty-Nine Olympics Projects Behind Schedule, Russian Officials Concede.  Most Russian assessments of construction for the Sochi games has been upbeat, but the growing discrepancy between such conclusions and the facts on the ground has forced one television program to acknowledge that 49 sites are behind schedule (

Sochi Olympics will be “a Catastrophe” for Putin, Kasparov Says. Russian opposition figure Gari Kasparov says that Russia is “still not prepared for this Olympiad” despite massive spending and that as a result, and despite official claims, “the Sochi Olympics are becoming “a catastrophe for Russian President Putin (

Sochi Games Certain to Set One Olympic Record – For Corruption, Moscow Media Outlets Say. A chorus of Moscow commentators are saying that the Sochi Olympics will set the Olympic record for corruption whatever happens when the competition begins (  and Sochi residents add that in their opinion, more of the money Moscow has allocated is going for corruption rather than construction (
Georgian Athletes Likely to Take Part in Sochi Olympics But Abkhazian and South Osetian Ones Won’t.  Unless a new effort by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili succeeds, Georgian athletes are likely to take part in the Sochi Games, but those from Abkhazia and South Osetia won’t be there, a problem for Moscow progandists ( , and

Sochi Venue Road Cost Three Times What NASA Spent to Send Probe to Mars. Moscow is spending 7.5 billion US dollars for the construction of a 48 kilometer road linking two venues, Adler and Krasnaya Polyana, an amount three times as much as NASA spent to send its latest probe to Mars, according to a Tatar activist (
Memorial Distributes Human Rights Guides for Gastarbeiters in Sochi. The Memorial Human Rights Organization has distributed a brochure to gastarbeiters in Sochi explaining their rights and obligations under Russian law (

Moscow Plans to Carefully Filter Muslim Guides for Sochi Games. Russian officials say that Sochi Muslims will work as volunteers at the Olympiad but only after receiving special training and vetting (

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