The Continuing Crisis in Sochi
Last week Sergei Volkov, a senior Russian scientist who had been working as a consultant for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, fled Russia after warning there could be a series of disasters because of the way the facilities are being built. Russia is constructing the Sochi venues on land that is routinely plagued by massive landslides and often experiences building collapses.
Now, Volkov fears he’ll be arrested after receiving threats from the Russian authorities, who want him to pipe down.
Volkov’s concerns are just the latest in a long line of horrific warnings being sounded about the proposed 2014 Olympiad in Sochi.
There is the terrifying risk of violence, both because of Russia’s atrocities in Chechnya and throughout the nearby Caucasus region and because the games themselves are being constructed on what many in the region consider sacred ground. The recent subway bombings in Moscow underline the very real risk of mass fatalities if the games go foward.
There is appalling destruction of the local ecology, as Russia ham-handedly bludgeons the region in order to erect the venues, heedless of the harm to endangered species and wetlands.
There is shocking callousness of the regime to the local property owners, whom it routinely divests of their legal rights and property without due process of law.
There is sickening prospect of Russian athletes humiliating themselves and their country before the eyes of a slack-jawed world in a manner even more stunning than what occurred this year at the Vancouver Olympiad.
There is the even more nauseating expense of the construction efforts, which when magnified by predictable Russian waste and corruption place an unbearable burden on the national economy at the precise moment when an economic downturn has made public assistance to citizens the key priority, one which the Kremlin is recklessly ignoring in the vain hope of international prestige and glory.
And there is, of course, the vile specter of the KGB regime that has liquidated every democratic institution and value in the country preening before the world and using the Olympics as a propaganda weapon against its own people.
Any one of these factors, much less all of them combined, ought to be enough to make any responsible person see the need to divest Russia of these games.