Friday, March 15, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown -- 47 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

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

Jordan’s Circassians Ask National Olympic Committee to Reconsider Having Games in Sochi. The Circassians of Jordan have sent letters to national Olympic committees around the world detailing their view that the games should not be conducted on the site of their national tragedy and asking the committees to reconsider their support for the Olympiad in Sochi (

Sochi Presents a Test for Circassians, Russian Expert Says. Valery Khomyakov, the director of the Moscow Council for National Strategy, says that “the Sochi Olympiad is a maor test for certain peoples of the North Caucasus and especially for those who consider themselves Circassians.” That is because “it is well known the Krasnaya Polyana” was the site of their expulsion from the Russian Empire and the deaths of many of them (

Russian Court Rubber Stamps Unconstitutional Land Seizures in Sochi. Sochi residents whose houses have been seized to make way for the construction of Olympic facilities and who were promised compensation went to court to seek the enforcement of Russian law on that point, but the courts have rejected their appeals (

Russian Authorities Tighten Control over Sochi Residents. Apparently as part of a broader effort to ensure security in Sochi, officials in that city have demanded that pupils produce the residence permits of their parents in order to stay in school (

Development Decisions for Sochi and Environs Political and Corrupt, Experts Say. The Kavkaz-Uzel news agency surveyed experts on the region, and all said that politics and outright bribery played the predominant role in decisions over what was built and where it was built (

Sochi Development Doesn’t Include Recreation Spots for Ordinary Russians. Both local residents and Russians from elsewhere in the country are upset that the Olympic building program has not provided any recreation facilities for ordinary Russians but only for members of the elite (

Sochi is Too Warm for a Winter Games. Temperatures in and around Sochi during the time of year when the games are scheduled are too high to allow an ordinary “winter” Olympics to be staged. And several Russian observers have suggested that perhaps the competition in Sochi will be the first “spring” Olympiad. They have also pointed to other weather-related problems including heavy rains and fog (,

Massive Flooding Hits Venues, Dam Collapses, Hundreds Evacuated. Following heavy rains, several venues were flooded, dams and bridges collapsed and more than 500 people were evacuated.  After the water receded, most of the damage was quickly repaired, but the rains have delayed some construction projects (,,, and

Olympic Construction Denies Responsibility for Cost Overruns. Olimpstroy, the organization charged with constructing most venues and support facilities in and around Sochi, says that it is not responsible for cost overruns (

Foreign Athletes Complain about Their Reception in Sochi. Mari Dorin, a French biathlon competitor, said that she was not impressed with either the Sochi Olympic sites or the reception she and other foreign athletes received. The facilities, she said, “do not correspond to the Olympic games” and appear to be only “an enormous waste of money,” and Russian officials were anything but helpful. She said she had to show her passport 13 times. (

Belarusian Worker Dies at Sochi Construction Site, Prompting Questions on Why He was There. A Belarusian construction worker fell to his death in Sochi, prompting some Belarusians to ask why one of their own was working there ( and

Nemtsov Says Sochi Olympics Face a Variety of Risks. Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Russian opposition, says that the Sochi games face seven major risks: energy problems, the wrong climate, logistical support bottlenecks, terrorist threats, the possibility of boycotts, and problems with hospitality in the area (

Olympic Construction Has Parts of Sochi Looking Like Stalingrad. published pictures of several construction sites in Sochi that it suggests have left parts of that city looking like the bombed out ruins of Stalingrad (

Journalist Says ‘Not One Olympic Object’ Really Ready… A Moscow journalist says that “not a single Olympic object” has been handed over complete and ready for use and that it is difficult to determine just how far from completion many are because officials are keeping independent journalists away from them (

…While Officials Claim “Majority” Are But Need Modifications ...  Alesandr Zhukov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee, says that most Olympic facilities are ready although he acknowledges that some of them need to be rebuilt, including most prominently, the biathlon facility which those who have used it say is too dangerous (,,, and

… And Russia’s Kozak Concedes Some Sites Won’t Be Finished in Time for Games. Dmitry Kozak, the Russian deputy prime minister who is overseeing preparations for the games, says that despite all the efforts being made, “there are risks that several objects will not be finished in time for the Olympics”  (

Russian Platform Says Billions Have Been Wasted in Sochi. The Russian Platform political movement, which presents itself as a spokesman for the ethnic Russians of the country, says that billions have been wasted in Sochi and that these funds should have been spent on projects that would help the country’s hard-pressed population (

Sochi Sets Another Record – Most Medals Ever for a Winter Games.  In addition to being the most expensive and most corrupt Olympiad in history, the Sochi Games have already claimed yet another Olympic victory: More medals, some 1300, will be handed out in the competition (

Moscow Wants to Restrain Prices for Air and Train Tickets for Those Going to the Games. In an indication that ticket sales may not be going as well as officials say or in an effort to liit popular anger about the expensive games, Moscow officials have indicated that they will try to hold down the prices for air and train tickets to and fro Sochi (

Sochi Resident, Fed Up With Olympic Projects, Paints an SOS on His Roof. One Sochi resident, upset with what has happened to his city and having concluded that there is nothing else he can do, has pained an SOS message on the roof of his house (

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