Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'Where is the solidarity for Somalia?'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Liberia's presidential election: Results trickle in as observers give thumbs-up

Read more

THE DEBATE

France's Weinsteins: Watershed moment in fight against sexual abuse?

Read more

FOCUS

A shield and a target: France's anti-terrorism operation 'Sentinelle'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc expose extent of sexual harassment

Read more

ENCORE!

Musical maestro Philippe Jordan on bringing passion to the Paris Opera

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Black day for democracy': Malta in mourning after top journalist is murdered

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Has the Weinstein scandal 'freed' women from their silence?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Europe’s newest face: Kurz’s election win indicates rightward shift for Austria

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

2017-10-13 Europe

Video: Ghosts of 1917 revolution still haunt Russians

What remains of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia? FRANCE 24 brings you a special documentary on how Russians are living with this cumbersome legacy, as the Kremlin keeps a...

Read more

2017-10-06 Middle East

Video: After the war, life slowly returns to Mosul

FRANCE 24's reporters went back to Mosul, almost three months after Iraqi forces liberated the country’s second city from the grip of the Islamic State (IS) group. The scene of...

Read more

2017-09-29 Africa

Video: Beauty queens to the rescue in Sierra Leone

In January 2016, Sierra Leone, a small West African country torn apart by war and ranked among the poorest in the world, created a sensation at the Miss Universe event. For the...

Read more

2017-06-30 Saudi Arabia

Women in Saudi Arabia: A long road to equality

In Saudi Arabia, women are considered second-class citizens. They cannot drive or travel without the authorisation of a male guardian: a brother, father, cousin or even a son....

Read more

2017-09-22 Middle East

The torment of Christians living in Syria’s Khabur valley

In the last few years, Syria’s Christians have been subjected to violent attacks and kidnappings by the Islamic State group. Churches have been burnt and entire villages in the...

Read more