Friday, April 19, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown -- 42 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

Note:  This is my tenth 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

Moscow Drops Plan to Kill Homeless Animals in Sochi.  In response to criticism from both Russian and international groups, Russian officials say that they will not carry out their plan to euthanize more than 2,000 homeless cats and dogs in Sochi prior to the Olympics, a reversal that suggests international pressure can be effective on other issues as well,,,, and

Kozak Says Moscow Won’t Increase Security Measures at Sochi in Wake of Boston Attack.  Russian officials initially said that they would increase security at Sochi following the terrorist attack in Boston ( and senior oficials of the International Olympic Committee said that “appropriate” security measures will be taken at the Sochi games and that the competition will take place in a completely safe manner ( But Dmitry Koak, the Russian vice prime minister who is overseeing the games said that there was no need for that because Moscow has already put in place all the security measures it needs to ensure safety ( 

Non-Olympic Construction in Sochi Banned until End of 2014.  In order to ensure that venues and facilities for the Olympics are ready in time, Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev has imposed a moratorium on all new construction in Sochi until the end of 2014 (, and

Zhirinovsky Calls for Arresting Olympic Officials and Sending Them to Magadan.  Corruption in Sochi is so great, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the head of the LDPR party, says that it has transformed that city into “a black hole” and that all those involved should be arrested and sent to Vorkuta or Magadan ( ).

Sochi Residents Circulate Petition Calling for Moscow to Observe Their Constitutional Rights.  Angry by the way in which Moscow officials have run roughshod over their rights and interests, a group of Sochi residents is circulating a petition demanding that the Russian Federation respect both and change the way it is conducting preparations for the competition next year (

Moscow Refuses to Say What Mobile Medical Complexes Will Contain.  Russian media are reporting that organizers of the Sochi game have classified the contents of special mobile medical complexes that they plan to use at the time of the Sochi Games, apparently concerned that what they are including in these vans would provide an indication o the problems they expect to face (

Sochi’s Physical and Psychological Climate Wrecked by Olympic Construction, Residents Say. One can easily see the extent to which preparations for the Sochi Olympics have destroyed much of the physical charm of Sochi, residents say, but just as serious has been the destruction of the relaxed and hospitable attitude of those residents toward visitors and each other (

Some Olympic Sites at Risk Because of Unstable Ground.  Experts say that some of the Olympic venues and support facilities may ultimately collapse even if they are ready for the Olympiad because they have been put up on earth that won’t be able to support them over the long haul (

Putin Friend Gets More Money to Repair Storm-Damaged Sites in Sochi.  A former judo sparring partner of Russian President Vladimir Putin will get more money to repair the damages from the recent storm that destroyed part of low-lying areas of Sochi (

Russian Weathermen Promise Accurate Forecasts for Sochi Games.  Roman Vilgand, the head of the Russian government’s meteorological service, says his staf will provide accurate weather forecasts for Sochi during the competition (

‘Almost Completed’ German Film on ‘Almost Ready’ Sochi Games Wins Prize at Cannes.   A German film that is almost completed about the Sochi Olympic facilities which are almost ready nonetheless won a price at the MIPTV competition in Cannes, an indication of the level of international interest in the Sochi games, according to a Russian newspaper (

If Sochi 2014 Weren’t to Happen, How about Sochi 2015 or even Sochi 2041? A Sochi blogger says that Moscow will likely be able to hold the competition next year, but even if it doesn’t, Moscow almost certainly will begin talking about other athletic competitions that could take place there the following year or even several decades hence (

Sochi’s Rivers Increasingly Polluted. Because of Olympiad-Related Construction, Sochi’s rivers are increasingly polluted, a development that can be seen with the unaided eye because they have changed color (

Some Construction Dust is Poisonous, Sochi Residents Told.  Construction for the Olympiad has stirred up a great deal of dust.  Some of it is harmless if unpleasant, but some of it, the result of the disturbing of mineral deposits and the use of chemicals during construction, is poisonous and threatens the health of residents (

Shapsugs Get Exhibit in Sochi Now But Not Next Year.  The Shapsugs, a subgroup of Circassians, have been allowed to organize an exhibit on Circassian culture in Sochi but this year rather than during the time of the Olympic competition (

Yerevan Commenetator Says Sochi Games Will Happen Just Like 1980 Moscow Games Did Because ‘Afghanistan was More Serious than the Circassians. An Armenian commentator says that the Olympic games will take place in Sochi in 2014 despite Circassian objections because Moscow was able to put them on in 1980 and the Afghan war at that time was a “more serious” challenge than the one the Circassians now present. At the same time, he acknowledged that Armenians are interested in the Circassian issues and that the Armenian media should devote more attention to it than they have up to now (

Russia Spending More than 100 Million US Dollars Per Kilometer of New Roads in Sochi. Moscow is spending some 4.9 billion US dollars to construct 41.6 new kilometers of roadways in Sochi (

Sochi Corruption Investigations Broaden.  Russian law enforcement personnel looking into corruption in the North Caucasus resorts case involving Akhmed Bilalov have broadened the focus of their investigations to others involved in related Sochi construction projects (,,,,   and

Sochi is ‘Practically’ Ready Just as Russia is ‘Practically’ a Democracy, Moscow Commentator Says. Everything in Russia is “practically” what it is supposed to be, including both the Sochi Olympiad and democracy, according to a Russian commentator. His article on has been taken down but it is still available at

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