Sochi Locals Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Olympics

Locals suspend protests at construction dumped on their doorstep ... for now

  • Share
  • Read Later
David Goldman / AP

Local residents walk down a street separated by a security perimeter from the Iceberg Skating Palace, seen in the background, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi.

In early December, trucks loaded with industrial trash began driving through the quiet village of Vesyoloe—”Happy” in Russian—and dumping their load on the hillside that overlooks Russia‘s main Olympic venues in the nearby city of Sochi. It was mostly junk left over from Olympic construction sites, and as the trucks kept coming, it began piling up around the property of Olga Fisko, who had moved from Moscow to Happy in 2010, just a few years after Sochi won the rights to host the Winter Games.

Fisko and her neighbors called the police every time the trucks arrived, but their promises to investigate went nowhere. Letters to the local government and to the Kremlin also had no effect. So in January, a few weeks before Games, Fisko’s small community decided to take drastic measures. They planned to burn the trash on the night of Feb. 7, just as President Vladimir Putin would be presiding over the opening ceremony of the Games. “That would show them,” Fisko told me at the time. “They’ll be lighting fireworks, and in the background they’ll have big, black plumes of smoke. Maybe then they would start to pay attention.”

Yet when the time came, the villagers couldn’t bring themselves to do it. “We watched the fireworks instead,” Fisko says the day after the opening ceremony. The trash was still laying around her hillside property in giant heaps, but the beauty of the spectacle below seemed to infect her with the Olympic spirit. The next day, Feb. 8, she and her family went for a walk around the stadium complex, where the Olympic torch had been lit the night before. “We gave up and just decided to enjoy it,” she says.

(MORE: Game On: U.S. Takes First Gold On Day 1 of Sochi Olympics)

And with that, a truce of sorts took hold in the long-running battle between the organizers of the Games and the local residents who have been impacted by Russia’s grand Olympic project. The truce wasn’t universal. In Moscow, a group of activists were arrested staging a protest during the opening ceremony against Russia’s controversial law banning “homosexual propaganda” among minors. But on the whole, the brilliance of the spectacle changed the tone even among the Games’ harshest critics.

The Western media, which had spent days harping on all the many oversights and imperfections of the Olympic preparations, joined in a chorus of praise for the undeniable beauty of the ceremony. That was the goal of the official who oversaw its design, Konstantin Ernst, who said on Friday that he wanted to present “the real Russians, untainted by decades of propaganda and the cold war.” It seems he pulled it off, as Russian officials from Putin to the Sochi city council had hoped.

Eleonora Evrandyan, the councilwoman who represents the village of Happy in the local legislature, says she had no doubt that the locals would get into the spirit eventually. “The Olympics always require self-sacrifice,” she says. “It’s like when a bunch of guests come over to your house for a party. You have to open up your heart and accept that your usual routine may be disrupted.”

When the Games are over, Evrandyan says, the local authorities will continue trying to deal with the complaints of residents that went unanswered in the final weeks and months leading up to the Games. “There are administrative mechanisms in place for this,” she insists.

Fisko isn’t so sure. When the Games leave town, she fears that Happy’s trash problem will continue to be ignored, especially as the attention of the global media will move on along with the Olympic torch. But for the next two weeks, she plans to ease up on her activism and attend some of the events. She and her husband already have their tickets in hand.

19 comments
HochiminLebleau
HochiminLebleau

Sochi may have been part of Georgia, but now is in Russia, just as the Whole Crimean Peninsula was in Russia and now is in Ukraine,So if Sochi were to be returned to Georgia, don't you think it would be fair for Russia to get the Crimea back where 70 percent of the population speaks Russian... it is what it is!!!

Dito Kvatashidze
Dito Kvatashidze

Its a Shame that everyone thinks Sochi is in Russia. Sochi, was a part of the republic of Georgia. Georgia as we know was occupied/conquered by the Soviets. And when Georgian national Josef Stalin got the urge, he gifted Sochi, the land and the people to Russia, cos Russia didn't have any sub tropical seaside resorts. So, Russians moved to Sochi and kicked the Georgian folk out of their homes, and were generally not very nice . I personally think, the whole world should boycott this olympics, until Sochi is returned to Georgia

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

This post is for those foreign journalists who have already started shi...ing in the premises of the Olympic village in Sochi. Their photos organized and paid to the Western audience saw "dark side" of the Olympics.

And here is HOW "civilized West" in the face of "torch of democracy" USA personally met the 1980 Olympic games in lake placid. "Feel the difference", provocateurs!

In 1980 winter Olympics (second time - the first was in 1932) took the village of Lake Placid in New York state.

Infrastructure then erected in record time, that, of course, affected the conditions of life - even Soviet athletes called them «unspeakable». The Olympic village in the Adirondack Mountains built by prisoners for ... its future prison.

When the games start prisoners resettle, but not for long: in the fall of 1980, less than a year after the Olympic games, the hostel athletes officially became a penal colony.

On the pages of local media even appeared phrase «Olympic prison».

 


Juan Diaz
Juan Diaz

Finally TIME stop the b.s. now is time to focus in the games.

Stephen Truog
Stephen Truog

Now if only the press would do the same. OK, we get it. The conditions are not like those in the western world. And yeah, the fifth snowflake didn't open. Really, who cares? All the piling on in tweets and news reports is getting old and Ugly American like. Enjoy the Olympics and experience a different culture in a different location of the world. Focus on the games.

EdwardE
EdwardE

ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!
Anti-Whites say there should be no White Countries✓
Anti-Whites say there should be no White Towns✓
Anti-Whites say there should be no White Neighborhoods✓
Anti-Whites say there should be no White Anything✓
Anti-Whites say there should be no White People✓
Immigration = Colonization – “Diversity” = Fewer White Children
“Multiculturalism” = WHITE GENOCIDE
Anti-racist is a >codeword< for anti-White

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

I think, this poster reflects the horror for the near future, which threatens US.

They probably wanted to warn the Americans and the whole world that the US is slipping into an unusual form of dictatorship, described in the novel-dystopia of George Orwell's "1984", and they wanted to stop it.

Judge for yourself:

In 1972 the U.S. had less than 300 thousand prisoners. In 1990 it was 1 million. Today the United States, where there are more than 2.3 million inmates, tops the list of countries by number of people in custody. This is about 25% of all those serving time in the world (the U.S. share of world population is 5%). The figure of 754 prisoners per 100 thousand of population makes the United States the world leader in the ratio of the number of prisoners to total population. As the American specialist publication «California Prison Focus» said, in the history of mankind there has never before been a society which held so many of its own people in jail. More people are imprisoned In the U.S. than in any other country - half a million more than in China, even though the population of China is five times more than that of the United States. The Soviet Gulag system of the 1930`s was on a much smaller scale than is the American gulag at the beginning of the XXI century.