A new report from the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society highlights widespread abuses by Russia in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics and urges the UK delegation to speak out during the Games.
Russia’s Olympic Shame argues that while President Putin has framed Russia’s hosting of the Winter Olympics as proof of the country’s return to ‘great power’ status, a myriad of issues surrounding the Games, from alleged rampant corruption and extensive environmental damage to the repression of human rights and well-publicised crackdown on the country’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, show exactly why the opposite is true. The report also details how the Games have become a target for insurgents based in the North Caucasus region, where Russia has been conducting anti-terrorist operations for over a decade.
Key findings of the report include:
- ‘Sochi 2014’ is the most expensive Olympic Games of all time. The official cost has more than doubled from US$12 billion in 2006 to US$27 million in 2012, though the final cost has not been announced and is likely to be far higher. Much of this increase is due to rampant corruption. Private investment has been negligible, with most of this cost accounted for by the Russian state budget.
- Human rights abuses in Sochi are prevalent, including: the forced eviction of citizens from their land and properties for the construction of Olympic infrastructure; the exploitation of migrant workers on Olympic construction sites; the harassment and arbitrary detention of journalists and activists working in Sochi or on Olympic-related issues and stories; and, a draconian crackdown on the country’s LGBT community.
- The threats facing ‘Sochi 2014’ are unparalleled in Olympic history. Though Russia’s security preparations for the Games have been comprehensive, the threat of terrorism remains. The Caucasus Emirate (Imirate Kavkaz), the main source of Russia’s domestic insurgency, declared, in July 2013, its intention to attack the Games. This may already have begun, with a series of deadly attacks in southern Russia in late 2013.
Russia’s Olympic Shame: Corruption, Human Rights and Security at ‘Sochi 2014’ is available to download here.