Russia: Silencing Activists, Journalists ahead of Sochi Games
Local authorities have harassed numerous activists and journalists who criticized or expressed concerns about preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The six-month countdown to the Sochi Games opening ceremony is this week.
Human Rights Watch has documented government efforts to intimidate several organizations and individuals who have investigated or spoken out against abuse of migrant workers, the impact of the construction of Olympics venues and infrastructure on the environment and health of residents, and unfair compensation for people forcibly evicted from their homes. HRW also documented how authorities harassed and pursued criminal charges against journalists, apparently in retaliation for their legitimate reporting.
“Trying to bully activists and journalists into silence is wrong and only further tarnishes the image of the Olympics,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “One of the non-negotiable requirements of hosting the Olympics is to allow press freedom, and the authorities’ attempts to silence critics are in clear violation of that principle.”
Photo: The iridescent blue Iceberg Skating Palace and the Central Olympic Stadium (Fisht Stadium) will host world-class events during the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. © 2012 Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for Human Rights Watch