Olympic Games Displace Russians

The slogan and logo are set, but now the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are trying to prepare the infrastructure and venues needed for the games. This task is proving to be more challenging than previously expected and is causing as many as 1,5000 Russians to be evicted from their homes in some cases with no compensation. This blatant mistreatment of people is causing many to take to social media to voice their concerns.

One Facebook group was made called “No Sochi 2014.”  As of today there are 5,600 members and many members of the group live in the Sochi area. Here are some comments on a post of a news article talking about the forced evictions.

 

Comments from Facebook group “No Sochi 2014.”

The Human Rights Watch sent letters dating back until 2009 to the Sochi Olympic Committee calling for better treatment of the Russia people. It has documented countless families losing their homes. Here is an excerpt from one story it told.

                        “Aleksei Kravets, 39, has been living in a three-story home he built himself in Sochi on the shore of the Black Sea for nine years, together with his thirteen-year-old son. The Sochi authorities claim that Kravets has no right to compensation for the house and are threatening to evict the family and demolish the home in the coming days. Guards on the road construction site have threatened Kravets with beatings and destruction of his property.”

Alexei Kravets in front of his home on the Black Sea in Sochi.
Credit: Mikhail Mordasov, Sochinskie Novosti

Kravets has paid property taxes to the Russian government the entire time while living inthe home.  His story is like countless other Russians, who like Kravets, are left helpless against the Russian government and Olympic committee.

So how is this happening?

During Soviet Russia land deeds and property records were not kept up to date.  Kravets got his piece of land in the 60’s from his parents and just went on like a normal person. He improved his home, paid his taxes, and raised a son. In 2003 and 2010 Kravets tried to privatize or legalize his home.  Both attempts failed. In 2011 Kravets had his house assessed to make sure it was up to the local building codes and it was. In May 2012 Kravets requested local authorities to legally recognize his house, but his property rights were refused.

Kravet’s home is destroyed to make way for new road for Olympic games.
Credit: 2012 Mikhail Mordasov

Like so many other Russian families Kravets was forced to watch his house be destroyed. Currently there are 180 cases in court concerning wrongful evictions. Most of these cases are dealing with improper compensation.

This problem of not having enough room to build the infrastructure for the Olympic games is not unique to Russia. China displaced 1.5 million people to make way for the 2008 games. London evicted people as well for the 2012 games.

Currently Brazil is preparing for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and like its predecessors are evicting people from their homes.  Brazil is clearing out a slum area and is evicting around 170,000 people.

I believe these evictions are a result of poor planning by the host countries and the International Olympic Committee.  The host countries need to have a more realistic understanding of the amount of space and resources needed to hold such large sporting events.  The stories coming out of Brazil and Russia are tragic and will continue unless the IOC and host countries change the way they do business.

I think the IOC should start to examine possible Olympic cities more carefully and really investigate if the city has the resources to provide a safe environment for the games.  Construction and planning for the 2018 games in South Korea should be in place to displace as few Koreans as possible.  I hope the evictions of good citizens factors into the IOC’s decision where to hold the 2020 summer Olympics.

The Sochi games will be here before we know it and more than likely all the infrastructure and venues will be complete and unfortunately these evictions will be forgot about when the games start….

Links:

http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/37647-russia-halt-forced-eviction-for-olympics-road.html

 

http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/12/09/letter-international-olympic-committee-update-human-rights-concerns-related-sochi-ga

 

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/17/russia-olympics-launch-sochi-abuses-loom

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/04/sochi-olympics-2014_n_2070784.html

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