While the mainstream media can’t stop fussing over the twin toilets, toxic tap water and cardboard doors in Sochi bathrooms, Human Rights Watch on Wednesday shifted the world’s focus towards much more serious issues in the Russian city hosting this year’s Winter Olympics.
Since 2008, the international non-governmental organization regularly raised concerns with the International Olympic Committee about abuses linked to the Russian government’s preparations to host the 2014 games in Sochi.
HRW claims it has been carrying out extensive research in Sochi for almost five years now, documenting unfairness towards workers building stadiums and related infrastructure, attempts to suppress free speech and human rights, including environmental damage caused by the Olympics, and exploitation of migrant employees.
Recently, the IOC took notice of the two extremely important rights abuses highlighted by the organization and persuaded the Russian government to investigate the claims.
Unpaid Olympic Stadium Workers:
Around 700 migrant workers complained to The Migration and Law Network in Sochi that they hadn’t received their back pay. A representative, Semyon Simonov, told that HRW most of them returned to their home countries.
After being notified of the problem, the IOC confirmed in a letter to HRW that the Russian government would investigate and compensate wage arrears for many workers on Olympic sites.
AkhshtyrVillageMay Get Water in March:
A remote mountain village near Sochi, Akhshtyr, probably suffered the most during the developmental process. The construction disrupted the water supply to the inhabitants and hampered public transportation.
The village's water wells were destroyed in 2008 when a dirt road was paved to allow heavy vehicles access and a new dump site was created, HRW reported last year.
Water was delivered to residents by truck once a week or less which, according to the villagers, wasn’t enough for household needs, especially when watering their gardens in the summer.
The IOC letter told HRW earlier this month that that the Russian authorities have once again promised to provide the village with reliable drinking water – in March.
Do you think the mainstream media is doing enough to address the really important Sochi Olympic problems? Share youyr answers in the comments section below.