Mili Note: Oh, but the Games are all about peace and unity!
SOCHI, Russia — Sochi native Vladimir Tkachenko needed a decade to build a house on his modest salary. He then had 11 hours to move all belongings out of the way for the bulldozers clearing the way for a new road.
Tkachenko’s violent eviction, which has recently alarmed the Sochi community, is only the latest incident in what critics say is the darker side of Sochi’s Olympic preparations ahead of the 2014 Winter Games.
The father of two, who had to seek medical assistance after bailiffs hit him over the head with an electric shock baton, does not shy with his words: “It’s real fascism,” he told AFP a week after his family’s three story brick house was reduced to rubble.
“We scream that we are a democracy, but judging by the way people are treated we are in a cavemen state,” Tkachenko said. “I don’t understand anything. I am completely lost.”
Russia is to hold the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in its southern resort of Sochi, and has pulled out all the stops to develop massive sports and transportation infrastructure on time in an area that has been a residential and agricultural backwater south of the city.
But while visiting IOC officials praise the Russian government’s efforts to remake the Black Sea city into the future sports capital, locals and observers say the undertaking is economising on the locals’ wellbeing.
About 1,000 families have to be relocated under eminent domain to make room for Olympic venues and roads that are part of Sochi’s 2014 Games development plan.