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Sochi: let's hope it doesn't become a word connoting tragedy

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014 Ukraine Putin

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#1 Spectacles

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 09:20 AM

This is also related to Omega's thread on the unrest in the Ukraine.

Putin is an ass. Russia has made tons of enemies who physically surround it with its heavy-handed abuse of its relative power in the region.

There is serious concern that those enemies will succeed in penetrating Putin's vaunted "circle of iron" around the Olympics and launching some sort of spectacular attack.

I heard a reporter interviewed on NPR yesterday who said that if it weren't his job to cover Sochi, he would not be there. Some of the athletes are reluctant for their families to go there. Most just want to get in, compete, get out in one piece.

Contributing to this sense of impending doom has been the uptick in assorted terrorist attacks in the region. Clearly, Putin's enemies are itching to leave a nasty mark.


http://www.washingto...7aaf_story.html

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Let’s be clear about something: The people most at risk in Sochi are ordinary Russians. They’re the ones being drained and even impoverished by these crooked $50 billion Games, and who are at greater risk of being killed because nationalist insurgents in the North Caucasus have promised to add blood to the tab. Scare stories about “black widows” infiltrating the village, and warships on alert, aren’t the half of it. Insurgents from Chechnya, Dagestan and Abkhazia have vowed to strike the Olympics, and they have the capacity to do it. In 2013 there were 375 deaths from attacks in the region. In 2012 Russian forces found a cache of ammunition just 24 miles from Sochi meant for attacks on the Games, including homemade bombs, land mines, mortars and grenade launchers. Then there are infuriated Syrian fighters seeking revenge for Putin’s support of President Bashar al-Assad. To put it plainly, Putin and the IOC have chosen to host an Olympics on the edge of a war zone.

“I must admit it certainly wouldn’t have been my choice,” said Russia expert Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, who is currently in Moscow. “And I can’t help wondering if you got Putin thoroughly drunk whether he’d admit it might be a mistake too.”

IOC officials have long collaborated with plunderers, and treated human rights abuses as acceptable if it meant good commerce, regardless of the harm: In Beijing, dissidents were arrested and tortured for refusing to support the Games. But the IOC’s amoral stupidity and avarice may have finally have peaked in Sochi. Activists have been jailed; homeowners evicted without compensation; 25 construction workers have died at stadium sites; illegal dumps of toxic construction waste have ruined local drinking water and caused homes to sink; and Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister, alleges up to $30 billion has been stolen in preparing for the Games. Now we can add $3 billion in security costs to the price of hosting this festival of malevolence and greed.

It may well be that Putin can secure the area with 60,000 police and special troops, and a cyber-dome of electronic spying and drone patrols. But Sochi is undeniably an inviting target, and so are areas outside of the security zone that will be stripped of police. In Volgograd, a major rail hub en route to Sochi, bombers killed 34 people last month.

“First, they have to foot this ridiculous bill for the Games; second, in order to provide all those security personnel, they have to come from somewhere else; and third, it galvanizes the insurgency,” Galeotti said. “This is a chance to really take advantage of the international spotlight. Let’s face it: There are terrorist attacks every week in the North Caucasus. Now they can do something on a platform.”

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“The interesting thing is that Putin has made these Olympics so important to himself, and how they fit into his sporty image,” Galeotti said. “He has given them his weight. And if the insurgents don’t keep up the pressure, with threats to overshadow his achievements, then they will seem to have failed. Either side has the potential to be severely damaged by the outcome.”

So the staging of the Sochi Games has become a contest of wills between Putin and the insurgents, with innocents squarely in the crossfire. The IOC is wholly responsible for this: It should have denied Putin the internal prestige he craves, while depriving the insurgents of a major target, by removing the Games when it was still politically and logistically possible. Now they will have to hope Putin can avert a disaster and make the Games safe, “insofar as you can be safe holding an Olympics inside a country fighting a serious insurgency,” Galeotti said.

Edited by Spectacles, 23 January 2014 - 09:22 AM.

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#2 Nonny

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 11:26 AM

We can hope.   :unsure:
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