Friday, March 8, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown -- 48 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

Note:  This is my fourth 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

Sochi Corruption Threatens to Spark Widespread Protest in Moscow, Analyst Says.  Vladimir Titov of “Osobaya bukhva” says that the drumbeat of reports about massive corruption in Olympic construction in Sochi may provoke protests that could threaten the regime (

Foreign Athletes Appalled by What They See in Sochi.  Some potential Olympic competitors are appalled by the way in which venue construction threatens Sochi, and others are horrified by conditions at the venues themselves (,,  and

Remember Reagan, Boycott Sochi, Russian Political Refugee Says. Yury Melnichuk, a Russian political refugee, says the international community should remember what President Ronald Reagon said and boycott the Sochi games (

Opponents of Sochi Games Come Up with Alternative Olympic Hymn.  Activists who believe that the Sochi games should not take place have come up with alternative lyrics that make fun of the official version and call attention to the destruction of the environment around Sochi (

“A Secret Road to a Secret Resort.” Activists in Sochi have discovered the latest way that Russian money intended to support the construction of facilities for the games have diverted it to other purposes: they have found “a secret road to a secret resort” (

BlogSochi Marks Its Third Anniversary on Line., a site that provides a wealth of information on events in and around the city and the Olympic construction sites, has now been posting articles on line for three years (

Former Deputy Head of Russian Olympic Committee May Face Criminal Charges.  Russia’s prosecutor general has asked his staff to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Ahmed Bilalov, who before his recent resignation had also been responsible for developing ski resorts across the North Caucasus (

FSB Official Says Russian Laws Will Be Enforced in Sochi So That ‘Everyone Will Be Comfortable. Vladimir Kuleshov, deputy chief of the FSB, says that Moscow will not employ “extraordinary” measures in Sochi but simply ensure the enforcement of Russian laws there and thus “allow everyone to feel comfortable” (

Costs, Corruption in Sochi Continue to Rise…  Russian spending on preparations has continued to rise, the Russian media says, and officials now acknowledge that at least 500 million US dollars of that spending has been embezzled (,,, and

…And Petersburgers Up a Meter to Show Just How High They Are. People in the northern capital have erected a meter to show how much is being spent on the Sochi competition and how much of it is going to corruption ( ).

Circassians Offended Not Only by Plans for the Games but also by Construction for Them.  Circassians have long been upset by Moscow’s decision to hold an athletic competition on the site where exactly 150 years ago many of their ancestors died in the process of their expulsion from their historical homeland ( they are now increasingly angry about the way in which Moscow is destroying the environment of their ancestral homeland.  (
Reporters Sans Frontiers Launches Sochi Campaign.  The French media organization has launched a campaign for the period leading up to the 2014 winter games to call attention to journalists who have lost their lives in Russia in recent years (,44154.html).

Construction Problems, Property Seizures Increase as Sochi Gets Its Own Leaning Tower.  The push to finish Olympic projects on time has led to some shortcuts, and these have left buildings without adequate foundations, forced officials to seize more property, spend even more money, and have given the Olympic city an analogue to Pisa’s leaning tower ((,,,,,, and

Power Problems in Sochi Leads Some to Say Sochi Games Should Be Lit by Candlelight. Sochi residents fed up with continuing power shut offs and aware that the power grid in the region may be inadequate for the games have suggested that perhaps officials should consider illuminated the competition by candlelight (

Russian Army Restores Soviet-Style Sports Units to Prepare Competitors.  In an indication that Moscow will do what it can to boost Russia’s medal count in Society, the Russian armed forces are setting up special units to train competitors for the games (

Sochi Games Will Smell of Mimosa.  The first winter Olympics ever held in a subtropical zone will feature the smell of mimosa wafting over the competition (

Sochi Preparations Highlight Difference Between Ordinary Russians and Ruling Elite.  Sochi residents are increasingly being made aware of the differences between the way they are treated and the way members of the Russian elite are, something that is intensifying anti-games anger among many of the former against the latter (

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