Tuesday, January 14, 2014
In less than 30 days, the world will turn its attention to the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in the Russian city of Sochi, which is already touted as being the most expensive in Olympic history. The Olympics have unfortunately have served as a lightning rod for terrorists, like Munich in 1972, or as a catalyst to shed light on gross human rights abuses in the host country, like Beijing in 2008. The 2014 Winter Olympics promises not to be any different. The run up to Sochi has already been marred by bombings in Pyatigorsk, Volgograd, and Stavropol and other serious security threats originating from the North Caucasus. The last few weeks and months have also seen the harassment of civil society activists, such as environmentalists, human rights activists, and journalists. These activists have been working to expose corruption and environmental damage, abuses against Sochi residents and migrant workers, and the recent adoption of a controversial law discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International, and other leading watchdog groups have documented human rights abuses taking place across Russia. While the controversial anti-gay law has received an enormous amount of international attention, and rightfully so, the Russian government has executed an unprecedented crackdown on civil society in general.
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