Russian organisations say No to Olympic Games at any cost!
Environmental and human rights communities of Russia oppose the hosting of Olympic Games in their country fearing nature destruction and Sochi citizens rights infringements. - In the run-up to the IOC decision to select Sochi as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Russian state authorities have been eager to turn the course of events to their favour and launched an intensive propaganda campaign aimed at demonstrating wide popular support for the idea to host the Games, writes Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC).
- Every effort was made to camouflage information about the enormous damage to the unique wild nature of West Caucasus as a result of Games and about the many Sochi inhabitants who will suffer in the course of the Games preparation. The fact that hosting the Olympic Games at such cost is actively opposed by many environmental and human rights NGOs in Russia is being fogged, EWNC continues.
Before IOC made its decision, representatives of 47 public organisations of Russia sent a strong appeal titled "No to Olympics at the cost of Nature Destruction and Infringement of Sochi Citizens Rights!
" This was to inform the IOC once more about their concern with the Olympic plans in the protected areas of the West Caucasus accompanied by infringements of human rights.
Read the appeal in full below:
To the International Olympic Committee
No to Olympics at the cost of nature destruction and infringement of Sochis citizens’ rights!
Appeal by the Russian Non-Governmental Organizations
In connection with the decision making due on July 4, 2007 for nomination of the 2014 Olympic Games Host City, the Russian NGO's appeal to the International Olympic Committee with the request to decline the bid of Sochi.
The reason for this appeal is not the absence of patriotism, but the legal and ethical abuse of power which takes place in preparations to the games conduct. It manifests itself in gross infringements committed by the Russian state authorities of legitimacy and constitutional rights of Sochi inhabitants to favourable environment and housing, neglect of such worldwide values as conservation of the World Natural Heritage and the unique biological diversity of the West Caucasus, spending of enormous federal funds under the cover of the Olympics preparation for the sake of securing valuable considerations of separate interested government officials and the companies.
We welcome the idea of conducting the Olympic Games in Russia, but not at this cost.
No example like this has ever been recorded in the Olympic Movement history when ALL Olympic facilities are planned to be built on the valuable natural tracts. Seven Olympic venues are scheduled to be located within the territory of the Sochi National Park, with three of them (Bobsleigh/Luge Track, Mountain Olympic Village and the Biathlon Complex) being constructed in the area of the buffer zone to the West Caucasus Heritage Site.
The location of yet another Olympic venue – the Ski Complex is closely adjacent to the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site. The complex infrastructure, without which its functioning is impossible, would also be affecting the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site.
All of the remaining objects are planned to be located in the Imeretinskaya Lowland – the sole area in Russia to have preserved the landscapes of the Colchis wetlands being - characterized by unique biological diversity. Playing an extremely important role in the life of migratory birds, the Imeretinskaya Lowland has the status of the important bird area (IBA) of international significance.
The damage to the valuable natural territories and biological diversity of the Caucasus to be caused by the preparations for hosting the Olympic Games and with subsequent long-term operation of constructed facilities, would be irreplaceable and cannot be justified by whatever benefit.
Besides the environmental damage, the idea of Sochi hosting the Olympic Games is connected with prejudicing the rights and interests of Sochi's people. Many inhabitants of Imeretinskaya Lowland are threatened by the demolition of their homes and involuntary resettlement. Their interests, just like the interests of Krasnaya Polyana Settlement inhabitants are infringed for the sake of satisfying the needs of investors and officials who unfold dynamic activities in the run-up to eventual hosting of the Olympics.
In the meantime, the alarmed Russian environmental community aware of the importance of hosting the Olympic Games in Russia, has been open to negotiations and search for the mutually acceptable solutions, which would actually reduce environmental threats with compensation of damage.
However, the bodies lobbying for the conduct of Olympic Games, such as the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development of Russia, Sochi-2014 Bid Committee, the Directorate of the Federal Target Program "Development of Sochi" and others proved to be incapable of any constructive dialogue with the involved stakeholders and real search for the methods of solving the existing problems.
The negotiating process started on the IOC initiative in the spring of 2007 between the above entities and concerned environmental NGOs turned to be a farce and ended up in nothing.
Those organizations proved to be incapable of any compromises aimed at reduction of environmental damage from the implementation of the idea to host the Olympic Games in Sochi.
Moreover, EVERY concerned Russian NGO, including the Socio-Ecological Union - Russia's largest environmental NGO - has been virtually excluded from any negotiating process since March 2007.
Due to the above, we are compelled to request the International Olympic Committee to act responsibly when selecting the Olympic host and decline any decisions which would cause an irreparable damage not only to the environment and human rights but to the ublic image of the entire Olympic Movement, too.
July 2, 2007