Activists Who Expose Environmental Toll From Sochi Construction Claim Harassment
As construction "continues at a feverish tilt in the scramble to finish venues" for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, so too are reports of dumping waste as authorities round up environmental activists who are revealing the cost of Russia's Winter Olympics, according to Alec Luhn of the London INDEPENDENT. Activists say that "concern for the environment has fallen by the wayside ahead of the world's eyes turning to Sochi" -- a long-vaunted health tourism destination -- next year. Despite Russia's "Zero Waste" pledge to reduce household and construction waste and treat hazardous waste during the preparation for the Games, "builders continue to dump waste and soil in environmentally sensitive areas." Last week, Human Rights Watch called on Russia to "stop harassing ... environmental activists and allow them to carry out their work." Human rights lawyer Alexander Popkov said over the past year, law enforcement actions against Sochi area environmentalists have become "more frequent and harsh." But "pressure on activists who uncover these violations continues." Local activist Margarita Kravchenko said that "she lost her job as a sales manager last year after local police inquired about her at work." She said that "she was fired in connection with her protests against the dumping of Olympic waste at a dump near her village of Uchdere, once the site of holiday homes for the Russian royal family" (INDEPENDENT, 12/1).