Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Court ruling expected on Gabon's contested election results

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Clinton's Comedy Turn

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Sarkozy's Populist Pivot, Bahamas Leaks, Syria Truce, Rome Olympic Bid (Part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

US Police Shootings: Race relations and the race to the White House (Part 1)

Read more

#TECH 24

Breaking the wall between technology and people

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Rural France: Challenges and opportunities

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: In Burma, ex-political prisoners struggle to return to normal life

Read more

ENCORE!

Xavier Dolan: Wunderkind of Québecquois cinema

Read more

FOCUS

The battle for UK Labour’s leadership

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2014-02-07

The dark side of the Sochi Olympics

For the past five years, Sochi has lived at a frenetic pace of construction. The most expensive Olympic Winter Games in history will be held from February 7th in this small Russian seaside resort located between the Black Sea and the mountains of the Caucasus. Our reporter made the trip.

Sochi is a relatively young city, founded in 1838. At the time, the inhabitants lived mostly in the mountains, shunning the sea where mosquitoes and malaria made life impossible. It was not until the 1930s and particularly after World War II that it became a popular resort. Joseph Stalin had the marshes bordering the sea drained. He had hospitals and sanatoriums built, where the injured from World War II were treated, as well as hotels and villas where the elite spent their holidays.

At that point, Sochi became a city for VIPs. An eminently political place, its evolution was punctuated by edicts from Moscow.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the small seaside resort kept its status of the Russian elite’s favourite city. Vladimir Putin is no exception. The Kremlin strongman was personally involved in Sochi’s bid for the Winter Olympics. He has been the most ardent spokesman for its Games, rejecting all criticism. Corruption, exploitation of workers, abusive expropriations, an environmental disaster linked to the site… “No, none of that exists!” the Russian president insists.

On the ground, however, we discovered a quite different reality. We met Angela Zilberg, whose house was destroyed without proper expertise and without compensation. We also met Roman, the worker who sewed his lips together because his employer at the Olympic site refused to pay his salary. We also went to Akhsthyr, a dust-covered village where the suffering of the inhabitants is matched only by the indifference of the local authorities, who leave them with no running water, squeezed between two stone quarries...

Beyond the buildings and brand new hotels that have sprung up so that Sochi can be all ready to host the Winter Olympics on February 7, we discovered the darker side of the Olympic sites.

By Ksenia BOLCHAKOVA

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-09-23 Burma

Video: In Burma, ex-political prisoners struggle to return to normal life

During a half-century of dictatorship, nearly 10,000 Burmese citizens were imprisoned for their political views. Almost all of these political prisoners suffered physical and...

Read more

2016-09-15 football

Video: African football players dream of kickstarting career in Asia

Southeast Asia is awash with football fever. New leagues and new teams are springing up everywhere - even in countries where the sport was until recently a minority pastime. To...

Read more

2016-09-08 Niger

Video: Niger’s Agadez, gateway to exile

Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, has become one of the main transit points for illegal migrants from West Africa who dream of Europe. We bring you an exceptional...

Read more

2016-09-02 India

Video: In Indian Ocean, Jarawa tribe risks dying out

For their own protection, you are not allowed to meet them. For tens of thousands of years, the Jarawa have been self-sufficient hunter-gatherers, living in harmony with nature...

Read more

2012-06-14 Colombia

From the archives: Caught in the crossfire in Colombia

On April 28 a team of Colombian commandos set out to destroy a secret drugs lab in the jungle. FRANCE 24 reporter Romeo Langlois joined them to record the mission. The patrol was...

Read more