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Sochi before the Olympics

Mikhail Mordasov

Published on 30/01/14

© Mikhail Mordasov

Situ­ated on the Black Sea, the city of Sochi has long been one of the country’s most pop­u­lar resorts, an elite vaca­tion des­tin­a­tion for Soviet and present-day Rus­sian leaders.

In Feb­ru­ary and March 2014, the city of Sochi will host the Winter Olympic and Para­lympic Games.
For the Krem­lin the Olympics are an oppor­tun­ity to demon­strate their abil­ity to organ­ize major events and burn­ish the country’s inter­na­tional image. “It’s a once in a life­time oppor­tun­ity” Rus­sian offi­cials say, “We’re build­ing not just an inter­na­tional winter sports des­tin­a­tion and year-round resort, we are build­ing new stand­ards for the coun­try as a whole”. Work con­tin­ues 24 hours a day to fin­ish con­struc­tion with glazed new Olympic ven­ues being built both in Sochi and the nearby Cau­casus Mountains.

But this trans­form­a­tion has also come at a cost to many Sochi res­id­ents. Some fam­il­ies dis­placed for Olympic con­struc­tion have lost their homes without com­pens­a­tion. In some vil­lages, land­slides threaten res­id­ents’ health and safety.
Envir­on­mental experts warn that the con­struc­tion is dam­aging the fra­gile local eco­sys­tem of the sur­round­ing Sochi National Park. Inter­na­tional Human rights organ­iz­a­tions keep report­ing ser­i­ous human rights abuses linked to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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