Thursday, August 21, 2014

Window on Eurasia: A 50 Billion Dollar Ghost Town – Sochi Six Months After Putin Games

Paul Goble


            Staunton, August 21 – Photographer Aleksandr Belensky has documented what many observers feared: despite spending more than 50 billion US dollars on the Sochi Olympics, Vladimir Putin has left Sochi not the vital place he promised but a ghost town where there are almost no tourists and where much of the infrastructure is already decaying.


            On his Livejournal page, Belensky has posted more than 30 pictures to back up his description of Sochi six months after the games concluded, a place which he suggests was “simply condemned to become a Ghost” now that Putin, Russia and the world have moved on to other things (


            Belensky’s pictures tell his story, but he provides brief commentaries for each of them, and they too are instructive.  He notes that it isn’t the case that there is no one about. One can sometimes see three or even as many as five people if one looks closely. “But the place is lifeless and isn’t working at even five percent of capacity.”


            In the places built for the Olympics, he notes, “there is simply nothing to do.” And there are no people doing anything. In one five-story parking garage, “there wasn’t even a single car … the only thing being parked there are broken toilets.” And the people who are in evidence are clearly locals: they are doing crossword puzzles rather than looking at guide books.


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