Disrupted water supplies, damaged homes (sometimes with no government compensation), and forced evictions. The Sochi Olympics are already making life worse for locals.
Is it possible to be jealous of an inanimate object? If so, then I am jealous of an inanimate object. Specifically, of the Sochi 2014 Olympic flame. Which has spent the past month—and will spend another three months—taking an envy-inducingly epic tour of Earth.
Before it makes its way to the shores of southern Russia in early February, the Olympic torch, with its symbolic flame, will have traveled to the North Pole (on a high-speed, nuclear-powered icebreaker). It will have summited Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak. It will have descended to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. It will have been transported by plane, train, car, icebreaker, and, yes, reindeer sleigh to more than 130 cities and towns in Russia. It will have traveled nearly 40,000 miles—the longest route in Olympic history—carried by some 14,000 people. It will have gotten to witness some of the most amazing places on Earth.
And also! Some of the most amazing places outside of Earth. Because the Sochi 2014 torch, on top of everything else, is going on a spacewalk.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
MOSCOW—Critics say a new law designed to quell the insurgency in Russia’s restive North Caucasus region revives the Stalin-era principles of collective guilt and collective justice.
President Vladimir Putin signed the legislation on November 3, requiring “close relatives and acquaintances” of those who commit acts of “terrorism” to pay damages—both material and moral—resulting from those acts. It also empowers authorities to seize property from friends and relatives of suspected militants and provides for prison sentences of up to 10 years for those convicted of receiving training “aimed at carrying out terrorist activity.”
"This is absolutely not normal. It’s a return to the 1930s, when Stalin advocated collective responsibility for crimes which were carried out," Mairbek Vatchagayev, a North Caucasus analyst for the Jamestown Foundation and head of the Paris-based Center for Caucasus Research, says. "Once again, we’ve ended up there when Putin regards himself a supporter of Stalin and the Stalin period."
Read more. [Image: Kazbek Basayev/Reuters]
For one speed skater, making a statement means wearing a rainbow pin as he darts across the ice. For one figure skater, it means just being himself, flamboyant costumes and all, and having his husband there to cheer him on.
But both athletes, who will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, know they may be arrested under Russia’s vaguely defined ban on so-called gay “propaganda.”
But the speed skater, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup, and the figure skater, American Johnny Weir, are defying calls by some activists and athletes to boycott February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. They are among the competitors and supporters who say the best place to take a stand against homophobia is at the Olympics themselves.
Read more. [Image: Grigory Dukor/Reuters]
In just over one year, the small Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russia, will host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi won its bid to host the games back in 2007, and has been preparing ever since - upgrading telecommunications, transportation, and other infrastructure, and constructing many huge new venues in two main locations: the Coastal Cluster along the Black Sea shore in the Imeretinskaya Valley and the Mountain Cluster in Krasnaya Polyana. With construction deadlines approaching next summer, here is a look at the progress so far in Sochi.
See more. [Images: Reuters, Getty, AP]