Friday, March 1, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown -- 49 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus

Note:  This is my third special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region.  These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments.  I would like to invite anyone with special knowledge or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved.  My email address is  Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble

Campaign to Boycott Sochi Games Launches Petition Drive.  The many people around the world who believe that the planned games in Sochi should be boycotted for historical, moral and ecological issues have launched an online petition campaign ( and

Youtube Features Film on Circassians and Their Concerns. A ten-minute film about the Circassians who were deported from the Russian Empire via Sochi in 1864 is now available on Youtube ( Meanwhile, plans for the Olympics are highlighting both the plight and concerns of the Circassians in media coverage (  and

Russian Nationalists Question Value of Sochi Games. Russian nationalist commentators are expressing concerns as to whether the Sochi Games are worth the enormous amount of money Moscow is spending on them (,

Moscow’s Plans to Purge North Caucasus Republics Seen Destabilzing Region. Even though the Russian government has shown that it will do almost anything to stabilize the area around Sochi, its current plans to conduct a sweeping purge in the republics there is seen by some commentators a likely to have just the opposite effect (

Sochi Residents Upset at Power Shut-Offs, Lac of Inexpensive Goods, and Building Delays. Residents of Sochi are upset about the ways in which construction projects for the Olympics are affecting their lives (, and have brought suit in Russian courts to try to change things (

Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund Say Moscow Not Keeping Its Promises to Protect Sochi Environment. Complaints in this regard by the two international ecology groups have been seconded by Russian and local environmental protection groups (,

Sochi Builders Cut Down Forest along Road to Putin’s Estate.  One place where environmental rules seem to have been ignored completely is along the road to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s country estate near Sochi. There, workers have simply cut down the entire forest to make way for him and his entourage (

Speeding Up Construction in Sochi Leads to Accidents, Injuries.  Construction firms working in Sochi, in order to try to catch up with planned completion dates, have taken some shortcuts which some believe are the product of that Kremli-driven speed-up ( and

Russian Spetsnaz Troops to Guard Approaches to Sochi During Games.  Moscow has announced that it will dispatch special spetsnaz troop units to provide security around the Sochi games region (

Circassians Fear They Will Be Shut Out of Medal Competition in Sochi.  Circassian athletes who have won numerous Olympic medals in the past are concerned that this year, they will take home any from Sochi (

Olympic Torch to Travel throughout Russia Before Reaching Sochi.  Organizers are seeing Russians to carry the Olympic torch along a route that will reach many parts of the Russian Federation ( and

Struggles Among Moscow Clans, Massive Corruption Seen Slowing Construction for Sochi Games. Struggles between powerful clans in Moscow and growing not slowing corruption on the site are behind many of the delays in preparations for the Olympiad (,

Daghestani Champion Returns Gold Medal to Protest Dropping of Boxing from Olympics. Sagid Murtazaliyev, a Daghestani who won a gold medal at the Sydney games, has returned that honor to the IOC, the latest expression of anger in the Russian Federation and the North Caucasus about the IOC decision to drop boxing from Olympic competitions in the future (

Map Shows Where North Caucasian Ski Resorts Are and Where They Might Appear.   A new map has been posted online showing both existing North Caucasian ski resorts and those officials dream of getting ready by the time of the Sochi games (

Fewer Europeans Travelling to Russia This Year—An Omen for Sochi?  Moscow officials say that fewer Europeans have come to Russia this year than last, raising a question they do not ask: will as many Europeans come to the Sochi games as the Russian government hopes? (

Russian Officials Pocketing Money Promised to Sochi Residents as Compensation.  Sochi residents who had to give up their homes to make way for Olympic construction were promised compensation, but Russian officials have pocketed much of it. Residents say that Russian courts are doing little to help them get these funds (

Presidential Plenipotentiary to Add North Caucasus Resorts to His Duties.  Aleksandr Khloponin, presidential plenipotentiary for the North Caucasus Federal District, may be handed responsibility for building North Caucasus resorts, a duty that some observers say is a kind of punishment for his failure to supervise the previous head of that effort who was recently fired (

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