Tag Archives: sochi

EDITORIAL: Red Russian Blood on the White Sochi Snows


Red Russian Blood on the White Sochi Snows

If the Russian speed-skating team wins a medal at the Sochi Olympiad in 2014, Italy will bend its neck and be decorated, because the coach of the Russian team is Italian.  Russia’s curling medal, if any, will go the team’s Canadian coach, its short-track medal, should there be one, will go to the Korean coach, and any biathalon medal will go to a German.

So even before Russian athletes step into the cold in 2014, they’ll already have admitted they at they can’t win without massive foreign assistance.  But the chances that Russia will win in Sochi — or even make the top 10 — are remote indeed.

Not all Russian teams will be led by non-Russians.  For instance the men’s hockey team is not — and at the recent world championships that squad was denied any medal and was crushed in two games in the medal rounds by tiny countries whose resources are not remotely comparable to those of Russia.

So it’s clear why Russia has so many foreign coaches.

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EDITORIAL: A Thousand days to Apocalypse in Russia


A Thousand days to Apocalypse in Russia

On May 14, 2011, Russia switched on a countdown timer in the city of Sochi to tick off the days remaining until the 2014 Winter Olympiad unfolds there.  The clock should have been in the shape of a ticking time bomb, in order to do justice to horror of anticipating what may be the bloodiest sports contest in modern memory.

Just the day before, Russia had gone down to utterly humiliating defeat to tiny Finland, getting blanked 0-3, at the semi-finals of the world ice hockey championships in Slovakia (Russia then promptly surrendered seven goals to Czech Republic and lost the bronze medal as well) .  The world was reminded that Russia is inviting it to gape upon the spectacle of Russian failure in 2014; if Russians are unable to meet the high expectations for gold medals the whole country will be forced to bow its head in shame.

But even if Russians manage to reap a fistful of gold in Sochi, they still must face the horrifying specter of terrorism.

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In Russia, they can’t even Pick a Mascot on the Up and Up

Mascot of the Monarch’s Will
Russia has one voter 
February 28, 2011
Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

The nationally televised election for mascot of the Winter Olympics in Sochi became a telling model for Russian elections in general and a possible repetition in the upcoming Duma and presidential elections.

The elections aired on Channel One for Russians to choose the mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi bore an entirely predictable result, albeit one that directly contradicted the population’s opinion. The winner was the snow leopard, with 28% of the vote. This only happened because Vladimir Putin, while in Sochi, spoke out in favor of the snow leopard right on the day of voting. It’s true that the Olympics had to be split between three mascots, since not one received more than half of the vote – the polar bear (18%) and bunny (16%) were added to the leopard.

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EDITORIAL: Blood on the White Russian Snows


Blood on the White Russian Snows

Last week Russia suffered what may well be, pound for pound, the most terrifying act of separatist violence in its history.

In a gesture of unmistakable menace towards the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the Caucasian rebels launched an all-out assault on winter sportsmen.  Three skiers from Moscow were shot dead on the road to the slopes in Kabarino-Balkaria (two other members of their party were wounded), and at nearby Mt. Elbrus another force of rebels blew up a ski lift, bringing down dozens of cable cars.  The attacks were timed to coincide with the staging of the first test events for the Sochi games.

The response of the Putin regime was truly terrifying. It openly admitted that it could not control the separatist violence, and helplessly warned Russian sportsmen to simply stay out of the area. Today Kabarino-Balkaria, tomorrow Sochi.

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The world must stop the Sochi 2014 madness. Now. 34 dead and 170 injured Russians today, tomorrow they will be foreign athletes and sports fans unless the world acts now. (Note:  The blast occurred at 4:30 pm on Monday January 24th.  As of 7 pm, two and a half hours later, state-sponsored Russian TV had reported nothing about the blast.  This is how the Russian government responds to risks to public safety, and how it will continue to respond.)

EDITORIAL: Blood on the Olympic Snows of Sochi?


Blood on the Olympic Snows of Sochi?

Last week in the city of Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia and just 250 short miles from Sochi where the 2014 Winter Olympics are to be held, a bomb exploded in a marketplace, injuring at least 173 people.  Seventeen people, and the suicide bomber who triggered the blast, were killed.  Rioting followed, and even more were killed.

If it can happen in Vladikavkaz, it can happen in Sochi. If it does, world leaders who send their athletes to the Russian games will have blood on their hands.

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EDITORIAL: Putin’s Failure in Chechnya and the 2014 Olympics


Putin’s Failure in Chechnya and the 2014 Olympics

Worry is rising over the risk of terrorism at Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics. Last week’s deadly attack on a hydroelectric station in Russia’s deep south only added to the concern. The number of attacks in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus was up 57 percent last year, and unlike the Chechen wars of 1994–2001, these killings have been the work of a bewildering array of rebel groups, some motivated by radical Islam but others by separatism or clan warfare.

The Kremlin keeps pouring money and firepower into the region, and it’s backfiring. In Chechnya and Dagestan, the human-rights group Memorial has reported a sickening history of nighttime kidnappings, rapes, and extrajudicial killings by -government-backed death squads. A senior police source in Dagestan says local clans, many of them linked to law enforcement, are encouraging the violence, seeking to bring down more chaos on rival clans. Somehow Moscow needs to break the cycle of violence—or face the possibility of trouble at the 2014 Games in Sochi, less than 200 miles from last week’s attack, in the foothills of the Caucasus.

Newsweek magazine, 7/24/10

The Caucasus rebels grow bolder and bolder, the failure of Vladimir Putin’s policies in the region grows ever clearer and more complete. And the world, finally, is getting wise to the insanity of allowing the 2014 games to push forward in this environment.

Just two weeks ago, we reported on a sensational direct attack on Ramzan Kadyrov in broad daylight in the capital of Chechnya.

Then last week, for the first time the Kremlin was forced to admit that an electric power station had been bombed and critically damaged by rebel fighters.   Instead of declining as Vladimir Putin promised it would, violence in the Caucasus region is escalating dramatically with every passings day.  And the threat to the games grows ever more dire.

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EDITORIAL: Finally, Russia admits the Sochi Horror


Finally, Russia admits the Sochi Horror

Now, not even the professional liars who rule the Russian Kremlin can deny it:  the world’s athletes will be risking their lives in 2014 if they are foolish enough to attend the Sochi Olympiad.

Last week, it was reported that Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB, had “warned that terrorists intend to disrupt preparations for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.”

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Cracks in Putin’s Corrupt Foundation in Russia

The Times of London‘s ace Russia reporter Mark Franchetti reports on the second high-profile refugee from the Sochi disaster in as many months (remember Sergei Volkov back in April?).  Those cracks in the foundation are getting pretty nasty, and it’s early yet.  How soon before this edifice comes crashing down?

A wealthy businessman involved in preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics has blown the whistle on corruption at the heart of the Kremlin.

Valery Morozov, 56, a Russian construction entrepreneur, says he paid £4m in bribes to a senior official to secure a lucrative state contract for the games. His claims raise questions about Russia’s efforts to compete with England to host the football World Cup in 2018. Critics say that awarding the tournament to Russia would expose it to the country’s endemic corruption.

Morozov revealed that he had taken part in a police sting operation to expose the official. He later arranged for one of his employees personally to hand a letter of complaint to Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president. Documents show that prosecutors in Moscow are now examining his claims. However, the Kremlin bureaucrat remains in place, raising concerns about a cover-up.

To protect his evidence, Morozov came to Britain earlier this year to lodge documents with his British lawyers and make a statement to this newspaper. “I turned to The Sunday Times because I understand that if the information I have stays only in Russia I am running a serious risk,” he said this weekend.

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EDITORIAL: Say “NO”! to Sochi 2014


Say “NO”! to Sochi 2014

Abkhazia is a part of sovereign Georgian territory according to every country in the world except Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru.  Attending the 2014 Olympics under today’s circumstances would make all of us complicit in cementing in practice Russia’s changing European borders by force, even if we reject those changes in principle.

Those were the words of former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, one of the highest-ranking diplomats to have spoken out so far against the Sochi 2014 winter Olympiad in Russia.  Currently the managing director of the Center on Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University and a senior adviser at the Atlantic Council of the United States, Volker clearly understands that “if the United States and Europe do nothing, we will surely face an untenable situation in 2014.”

At last, while there is still time, the world is turning against the Russian atrocity in Sochi!

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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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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.

Putin’s Russia, Putin’s Sochi: They just Don’t Work

In a brutally frank essay Alexei Bayer, writing in the Moscow Times, exposes the fundamental fraud that is the Sochi games, and the possible silver lining of holding the Olympics in Russia:  That Russia may be finally, totally, exposed before the slack-jawed world:

The Olympic flame in Vancouver has barely gone out and four years remain until the opening day of the next Winter Olympics in Sochi. But the first, most important race is already under way. From now until the closing ceremony on Feb. 23, 2014, the world will be on the edge of its seat, wondering whether Russia can pull it off.

The stakes for the Kremlin are huge. The Sochi Olympics are already different from most previous Winter Games, which were largely organized by local or regional authorities with only limited input from federal governments. Sochi, on the other hand, has always been a federal undertaking, driven by Vladimir Putin and controlled directly from Moscow. It is a national priority meant to showcase Russia’s accomplishments. In this respect, it is part of a long line of “propaganda Olympics,” which began in 1936 in Berlin and continued in Moscow in 1980, Seoul in 1988 and, most recently, Beijing two years ago.

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EDITORIAL: The Looming Sochi Disaster


The Looming Sochi Disaster

Russia has begun the Winter Olympiad with truly epic and humiliating failure.

First, as we previously reported, it was sternly reprimanded by the IOC for being the worst cheater at the games.  Then it was totally excluded from the medals platform at its most prized event, pairs figure skating, for the first time in the history of the event.  By Monday night, when Russians watched Chinese skaters claim both gold and silver in pairs, Russia had taken only one medal, a lowly bronze, while the US had eight, Germany five, France & Canada had four apiece and eight other countries held more than one medal, placing Russia well outside the top ten on the medal count platform in the early going.  Then for the capper, the US women’s hockey team brutally crushed the Russian side, blasting them off the ice in a 13-0 spanking.  Ouch.

Yet, four years from now, Russia not only plans to compete in but to host the Winter Olympics. When one reflects on the serious difficulties already experienced by Canada while playing host this year, one cannot help but think Russia is engaged in a fool’s errand.

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Russians on Russia

Julia Ioffe reports from Moscow:

I’ve just spent the last couple of days holed up inside Moscow’s World Trade Center for the Troika Dialog Russia 2010 Forum, an economic conference where I was surprised to hear some refreshing honesty from the Russian political elite who made appearances there.

Anatoly Chubais, who heads up the state nanotech corporation and was an influential reformer in the 1990s, said, “We have to admit that we have fallen very far behind.” And by “far” he means about 30 to 40 years. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov was equally harsh. “We need to change our behavior, drive safely and not, as is customary in Russia, haphazardly,” he said. He admitted, too, that the Russian bureaucracy — “an unfriendly administrative system” — is a stultifying force that even the elite has to do battle with, and that social protection is not a public good here. “Even if you have money, you have no sense that the security services will protect your rights,” he said.

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EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Insanity II


Annals of Russian Insanity II

Russia is in the process of constructing its largest aquarium in the city of Sochi at a cost of over $25 million. Scheduled to open later this month, Sochi Discovery World is supposed to be one of the chief attactions for visitors to the 2014 Olympic Games.

As if. 

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Russia’s Olympiad will Despoil the Natural World

OpEdNews.com reports:

Ordinarily, I look forward to the Winter Olympics. I find it thrilling to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes perform on ski slopes and skating rinks in gorgeous mountain settings. But I don’t think I will be able to enjoy the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Planned for Russia’s Black Sea resort town of Sochi and the nearby Caucasus Mountains, the Games are shaping up to be an environmental disaster.

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A Question for Vladimir Putin

We’d like to ask Vladimir Putin:  If you can’t protect supreme court  judges and cabinet ministers in the Caucasus from lethal acts of terrorism, how in the world do you imagine you’ll be able to protect Olympic athletes in Sochi?

EDITORIAL: Stormclouds over Sochi


Stormclouds over Sochi

A few weeks ago, we reported that the Olympic organizing committee was shocked at a recent inspection of Sochi to see how little progress the Putin regime had made in constructing the basic facilities that will be necessay to host the 2014 Olympics there.  As always, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin gave assurances that everything was fine.

As always, Putin was lying.

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Russia Extinguishes the Olympic Flame in Sochi

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Writing in the Wall Street Journal Jane Buchanan of Human Rights Watch condemns Russia’s assault on freedom of speech and property rights in Sochi:

“We are not against the Olympics, but why should the Olympics violate our rights? Can you tell the International Olympic Committee that I am Russian, I am not against the Olympics? They are taking our property for a temporary parking lot. There is no information. No one will answer us. We wait for answers and we worry.”

— A Sochi resident facing Olympics-driven eviction from her home,

April 24, 2009

MOSCOW — A delegation of the International Olympic Committee has just visited Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort town and future Olympic host city, to assess the status of preparations for the 2014 Winter Games. Jean-Claude Killy, the three-time Olympic skiing champion who chairs the International Olympic Committee’s coordination for the Sochi Games, spoke glowingly of the Sochi authorities’ “open and constructive” attitude. “The Russian diamond is shining more and more with each passing day,” Mr. Killy gushed.

Many Sochi residents would disagree.

{Click the link to read the rest, showing how the Russian government is violating the very principles of the Olympic movement as it builds the Sochi site for the 2014 games in total disregard of the civil rights of the local residents}

Kasparov on the Sochi Charade

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Garry Kasparov, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

It has become fashionable to speak of change and liberalization in Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev. May 7 marked his one-year anniversary in office. He has recently granted an interview with an opposition newspaper, allowed a few human-rights activists to criticize Russia’s regime, and even started a blog. There is also a new administration in Washington that wants a fresh start with foreign powers.

However, Mr. Medvedev’s gestures have not been matched by policy. It is more appropriate to think of Russia as living under Vladimir Putin’s ninth year in power. Mr. Putin is now prime minister but still in charge. His agenda of oppression and plunder is still the course in Russia. The Kremlin’s willingness to install its candidates in office and persecute its opponents remains undiminished.

Last month, the Putin government inserted itself into the mayoral election in Sochi, a resort town on the Black Sea that has been selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

{Click the link to read the rest of Kasparov’s condemnation of the IOC’s decision to vest Sochi with the games}

EDITORIAL: Putin’s Sochi Charade


Putin’s Sochi Charade

With the Russian economy in freefall, it’s looking more and more every day like Russia’s effort to host the 2014 Olympics will bankrupt the nation, leading either to total Russian humiliation before the world or to draconian, Soviet-like privation and suffering for the sake of a Potemkin sham.

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EDITORIAL: The Kremlin’s Sochi Lies Risk Lives

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The Kremlin’s Sochi Lies Risk Lives

Here’s what Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of security for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, told Reuters last week:  “Sochi is the summer residence of our president and prime minister, that says everything.  This is one of the safest and most secure places in Russia and it’s the state with the highest security level.”

It was one of the most sensational and outrageous lies yet told by the malignant regime of Vladimir Putin, placing the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world in jeopardy and showing the absolute contempt with which Putin views basic values of honesty and integrity.

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