We're just two months away from the Sochi winter Olympics and activists, environmentalists and journalists are claiming that Russian officials are attacking their rights to expose the negative underbelly of the Games.
A Human Rights Watch report as detailed in a recent Associated Press piece explained that authorities are putting mounting pressure on critics of Putin.
“Authorities in the Krasnodar region are harassing the environmentalists and activists who dare to speak critically of them in the context of the preparations for the Olympics in Sochi,” said Yulia Gorbunova, a researcher for the human rights group.
The AP highlighted a few of the leading critics, which have tried to expose the problems in Sochi leading up to the $51 billion dollar games.
One environmental reporter was charged with “beating up” a security guard and was forced to pay around $300 after she questioned why a water company had cut off its supply. A medical examination revealed a microscopic scratch on the guard's ear which was evidently enough to charge the female reporter.
Another activist, who'd been detained numerous times, was sued after she complained about a state contractor destroying a local beach for the purpose of building Olympic venues. A local judge declared “their actions to prevent construction machinery [on the beach] from operating are presenting a threat to the schedule of Olympic venues construction.”
Yet another environmentalist reporter was held at an airport for four hours, detained by Federal Security Services, because he was told he fit the description of a terrorist.
“As I see it, they are holding drills to subdue troublesome people ahead of the games,” Dmitry Shevchenko said. “They know perfectly well what can damage the games' image: These are political activists, journalists, bloggers and environmentalists.”
Putin has made these Olympics more expensive than any other games, and he has often talked about how important it is that Russia be viewed in a positive light as a result of them.