Environment Epic Fail Ethics Russia Sports

Sochi is a Horrorshow

Under different circumstances I would snark about unethical, unsavory, and possibly illegal behavior in Russia in light of the past year’s events, but I can’t do that today.

I usually watch the Olympics, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that this year because I cannot support what Sochi represents.

Gizmodo has a full rundown of the problems currently plaguing the Winter Olympics which formally begin this week

On “shady dealings”

One International Olympic Committee member recently reported that as much as a third of Sochi’s budget has been siphoned off in shady dealings.

Other deals seemed to verge on blackmail. “Participating in Sochi is a kind of tax for the oligarchs,” former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told Der Spiegel. “If you want to continue doing business in Russia, then you have to help Putin.” For example, the massive state-run oil company Gazprom is responsible for $3 billion worth of construction, from the cross-country skiing and biathlon center, to a third of the Olympic Village, to a massive power plant outside of Sochi.

Damage to the environment

Despite the fact that Russia claimed the Games would be “zero waste,” the impact on Sochi, a protected wildlife area, has been dramatic. Sections of the National Park have been destroyed. A massive quarry has caused wells to dry up and dust to coat entire villages. Contractors are accused of creating secret, illegal landfills to deal with the construction refuse.

Treatment of workers

And then there are the underpaid (or unpaid) migrant workers who are actually doing the work. Sochi has been flooded with workers from Central Asia over the past four years, and Human Rights Watch has documented millions in unpaid wages, horrific working conditions, and violent abuse.

Meanwhile, Serbian and Bosnian workers have been arrested and expelled without explanation. Workers who have spoken out have been brutally abused.

There’s much more.

The city of Sochi has reportedly hired a firm to capture and kill stray dogs.

The city has a contract with a “pest control firm” in the area for the express purpose of exterminating stray dogs throughout the Olympics, which begin this Friday. Alexei Sorokin, the company’s director general, said they’d be “catching and disposing” of the dogs, but would not elaborate on the part between the catching and the disposing. (The murdering).

Other highlights include the inability to flush toilet paper.

There’s also the twin toilets that are a real thing that exists.

And while some hotels are technically complete, they forgot to fasten the nuts and bolts.

And apparently Freedom Industries is operating inside Sochi.

And on and on.

“The outdoor area and floors/staircase/elevator inside were still under construction and completely dirty,” Reuter wrote, adding that the room he was shown “had no light in the main room, the water out of the tap was yellow/brown, the air conditioning, TV, kitchenware were all not working … Beside this the room was totally dirty and everywhere covered with dust.”

The next room was worse.

“In some rooms you actually saw that there are still the construction workers sleeping and living,” he wrote.

And to top it all off, Human Rights Watch released this video today documenting the assault and beating of gay persons in Russia where this sort of behavior is openly tolerated.

(Warning: graphic video)

This is an international embarrassment. Or at least it should be.

  • Badgerite

    But at least the journalists there have their privacy. Oh wait. No they don’t.

  • WiscoJoe

    Shady dealings, gross incompetence, pollution, animal cruelty, gay bashing, exploitation of laborers, malfunctioning infrastructure, billions of dollars wasted… It’s no wonder Republicans think Putin is the very model of a modern world leader. I mean, a superficial attempt to maintain a strongman image is all that really matters in terms of true authority, right?

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    Ironic timing on this post and the pic of the piss-colored water…about 30 minutes before I read this post the guy who sits next to me at work showed me a tub full of dirty tap water taken in a hotel in Russia. He visited the country for business just after it opened up in the 1980’s. So their water has been that way since the good old USSR days. In all that time and with all that money flowing around from the “free market” and they still don’t have drinkable, safe water. Funny how that works….

  • LTanya Spearman

    This is what the religion right, all MSM, emprogs, the U.S. senate/House, ACLU praise as their idol leader… I have no doubt that these reports will get a rude awaken..
    Tell me now, how does Putin look on that pedestal now.

    Putin will be surveilling journalists and this is why — http://canada.com/olympics/sochi

  • j hentai

    but has anyone else noticed that all the major world sports events for the immediate future are tainted. brazil- the world cup, the olympics: the people don’t want them (by the way 50% of the debt those spendthrift greeks are paying off is for the olympics). qatar- the world cup: bought & they’re using slave labour. japan: insert fukushima joke here. and finally russia: the world cup: see article.

  • gescove

    But, but… Bush looked Putin in the eye! He got a sense of his soul! He’s trustworthy! I’ve always thought a trip to the Olympics would be amazing. Sochi? Not so much.

  • gihaification .

    As an Englishman,

    I’m doubly offended that Mitt hasn’t piped up to condem these games!
    He was super quick to question if London would be ready!

    • Christopher Foxx

      Mitt who?

      Seriously, the guy’s fallen way off the radar. As he should.

      • gihaification .

        Well when is some republican going to either step up and condemn this or support it!

        It’s clear Obama isn’t a fan!

        Where are the presidential hopefuls on this topic!

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    Wait I thought Russia was a paragon of liberty? That’s what Snowden says…

    Seriously though, Russia has always had a fascistic streak and nihilistic elements …the kind that yearns for strong male leaders, even if they step over the line and violate people’s rights (aka, Stalin) and when they do, a good portion of the country says, “Eh, that’s life what can you do. Now open another bottle of vodka.” Before one gained power via position in the Communist party. Now they gain power via money (hence the rise of the Russian mafia) and/or via physical and social domination. Mix the people that say “Eh what can you do?” with the ones who crave power over others, i.e., the fascists, and stir in a deep disregard for the rule of law and this is what you get…a nightmare. All that being said, I fully expect the news media to only report on this kind of thing on Non-Olympic shows…you know the news casts that no one watches any more?

    • drspittle

      But…but…Russia is a bastion of human rights and stuff. And children don’t have the NSA listening to their every thought over there. Right?

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        LOL. No, but they do have former KGB agents orphaning them on behalf of the Russian Mafia. I can smell the freedom from here, can’t you?!

        • drspittle

          Indeed. But only because Edward Snowden “revealed” it.

    • Scopedog

      Good point about Snowden. Of course, he, GG, and many emoprogs will either be a) quiet as church mice or b) playing a ridiculous game of false-equivalence by claiming–via one handy sentence–


      I wouldn’t put it past them. The fact that they can turn a blind eye to what the hell is really going on in Russia while performing verbal fellatio on Snowden and Greenwald just proves how low they really are.

  • Christopher Foxx

    It isn’t “going Godwin” when it’s an accurate statement. And the speaker in the video is exactly right: these are exactly Nazi tactics.

    – Define someone as inhuman.
    – Claim they are causing harm to you (despite the exact opposite being the truth)
    – Make it clear that it’s OK to beat, abuse and kill them because, after all, they aren’t human. Not just OK, but expected.

    And you end up with a population so morally bankrupt that it never occurs to them that there is anything wrong about beating a person and forcing them to rape themselves with a breakable bottle. Indeed, they come to believe it would be wrong not to.

    How is this not Berlin 1936? (Where, by the way, there was an Olympics going on…)