Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

What is green finance?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is This Bear a Victim of Climate Change? Maybe, But Maybe Not

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

One Planet Summit: Hop on that green bike, Emmanuel!

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

France's Cathar region: Relics of the Middle Ages in the Pyrenees

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

AU warns 6,000 jihadists could return to Africa

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump's accusers say #MeToo... again

Read more

THE DEBATE

Game changer? Middle East diplomacy after Trump's Jerusalem move

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Niger's president warns Malian state 'could collapse'

Read more

FOCUS

USA: Voters speak out ahead of high-stakes Alabama Senate race

Read more

REPORTERS

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

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

2017-12-08 Libya

Video: Trapped in Libya, migrants face torture and slavery

In the past few months, the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has shrunk drastically on the back of new migrant policies in Libya and Italy alike. Instead,...

Read more

2017-11-30 Americas

Video: Barbuda, an island paradise wiped out by Hurricane Irma

Three months ago, life on the Caribbean island of Barbuda, in the French West Indies, morphed into nothing short of a nightmare as Hurricane Irma swept in over its shores,...

Read more

2017-11-24 Americas

Video: Is Trump slamming door on Muslims' American Dream?

Since US President Donald Trump came to power, Muslim Americans say they feel increasingly unwelcome in their own country. According to critics, Trump’s executive orders banning...

Read more

2017-11-17 Middle East

Exclusive: From Tehran to Najaf, a pilgrimage fraught with danger

It’s one of the most dangerous pilgrimages in the world. Every year, despite the deadly menace of the Islamic State group, millions of Shiites make a pilgrimage to southern Iraq,...

Read more

2017-11-09 Europe

Full circle: The second life of old clothes abroad

Our reporters investigated what happens to old clothes thrown out by Westerners. For several months, our team followed the trail of recycled clothes - from initial collection...

Read more