Daily Archives: March 18, 2010

EDITORIAL: The Sochi 2014 Madness must end Now!


The Sochi 2014 Madness must end Now!

Once again, for Russia’s own good as much as its own, we call upon the world to divest Russia of the 2014 Olympic games.  If this cannot be accomplished, we call upon all civilized nations of good faith to boycott the games and hold their own alternative.

The Russian government spent nearly $120 million preparing its athletes to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Olympiad, over five times more than it had spent preparing for the 2006 games in Turin, Italy.

The result?  Russia’s medal count decreased substantially, not even placing it in the top 10 gold medal winners, and the head of the preparation effort was forced to resign.  Russia was absolutely humiliated before a slack-jawed world.  The head of Russia’s biathalon team, which experienced the most spectacular of all Russia’s team breakdowns, stated:  “We don’t produce skis, modern waxes and lubricants, and Russian rifles are 20 percent more inaccurate than German ones and do not correspond to international standards.”

What this means is simple:  Russia’s leaders in the Kremlin were totally unable to supervise the nation’s use of precious millions, which were squandered to shocking ill effects.  In their efforts to blame underlings, Russia’s prime minister and president did not accept one iota of blame for themselves, much less did either one resign.

And what about Sochi?  Even more vast sums are being spent by a country whose citizens don’t rank in the top 130 in the world for life expectancy.  And the Kremlin tells us that it is capable of managing that expenditure and bringing off the games successfully, just as it bragged that the $120 million spent on Vancouver would yield at least 30 medals.  The claims about Sochi are, of course, every bit as ludicrous and dishonest as were the claims about Vancouver.

As we document in today’s issue, Russia is seriously neglecting many public health issues and other public concerns, such as child smoking, as it diverts massive resources away from such projects to the games, and it is not even able to pay the workers who are building the games; in today’s issue we document their shocking deprivation and suffering.

If we consider on the appalling waste of desperately needed funds and the prospect of more national humiliation for Russia, both on the playing fields and as hosts, we do not think any more reasons are necessary to justify immediately stripping Russia of the hosting duties, for its own good.  We feel the argument makes itself.

But there are, of course, many other equally important reasons that cry out for divestment.

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EDITORIAL: Russian kids Smoke themselves into the Grave


Russian kids Smoke themselves into the Grave

In today’s special issue, we argue once again that Russia must be divested of the 2014 Olympic Games.  A jaw-dropping recent report in the Moscow Times newspaper highlights the innumerable social problems that plague Russia, problems from which the Olympics is diverting essential resources at the cost of Russian lives.

The mighty MT reports that Dr. Leonid Lazebni, the Russian Surgeon General, announced that Russian children face a “catastrophe” because, in Moscow at least, three out of four boys and two out of three girls smoke cigarettes.  This contrasts with an overall smoking rate in the capital city of 24.6%.

These figures are truly shocking, of course, but even more stunning was the Keystone Cops manner in which the utterly clueless Lazebni made his presentation and in which the assembled government officials responded.

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Toxic Russia, Destroying itself and the World

The United Nations and the IOC are both condemning Russia’s appalling environmental butchery of the Sochi region as it is raped in preparation for the Olympics.  Paul Goble reports:

Thursday, Russia’s Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak appealed to ecologists “not to block” the construction of facilities for the Sochi Olympic Games now planned for 2014, the latest indication of the way in which Moscow has found itself under pressure from environmental activists.

Kozak told a session of the inter-agency commission preparing for the games that UN experts had not found “major ecological problems” in their study of the environment around Sochi and that Russian ecologists should accept their conclusions rather than take steps to prevent construction from going forward

As Kommersant reported, environmentalists were not impressed by Kozak’s remarks. Igor Chestin, director of the World Wildlife Fund of Russia, said that he “does not understand how Russian ecologists can ‘block’ the Olympic project; we simply don’t have such power.”

But the situation in Sochi is a matter of deep concern, he continued, because “the ecology of the region has already suffered and now one can talk only about minimizing harm,” given that the government’s current approach, if it continues unchanged “will lead to a catastrophe with human victims.”

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Russia’s Sochi builders Starving, Living in Swill

The Moscow Times reports on the shocking living conditions of Sochi Olympics workers, or should we say saves? Robert Coalson points us to horrifying YouTube video from the scene, also embedded in the comments below.  The MT has all the details:

Hundreds of workers at an Olimpstroi-funded construction site in Sochi have not been paid in months, with some complaining that they are going hungry after giving up their passports as collateral to get food at grocery stores.

The scandal is the latest to hit Russia’s $13 billion effort to ready the Black Sea resort for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Residents displaced by construction for the games have complained that they are not being adequately compensated, while environmental activists say the work is blighting the region.

About 180 people were not working Friday, exasperated by months without pay and desperate for food, said Sergei Dykhalov, who was hired by general contractor Moskonversprom as the site’s crane operator for 36,000 rubles ($1,200) a month.

He said he hadn’t his salary since December.

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Postcard from the State of Insanity

The city of Sochi is a BEACH resort. It has PALM TREES.  What kind of maniac would decide to hold the WINTER OLYMPICS in such a place? Only a Russian could conceive of such a notion. This madness must end now.