Let’s be clear about something: The people most at risk in Sochi are ordinary Russians. They’re the ones being drained and even impoverished by these crooked $50 billion Games, and who are at greater risk of being killed because nationalist insurgents in the North Caucasus have promised to add blood to the tab. Scare stories about “black widows” infiltrating the village, and warships on alert, aren’t the half of it. Insurgents from Chechnya, Dagestan and Abkhazia have vowed to strike the Olympics, and they have the capacity to do it. In 2013 there were 375 deaths from attacks in the region. In 2012 Russian forces found a cache of ammunition just 24 miles from Sochi meant for attacks on the Games, including homemade bombs, land mines, mortars and grenade launchers. Then there are infuriated Syrian fighters seeking revenge for Putin’s support of President Bashar al-Assad. To put it plainly, Putin and the IOC have chosen to host an Olympics on the edge of a war zone.
“I must admit it certainly wouldn’t have been my choice,” said Russia expert Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, who is currently in Moscow. “And I can’t help wondering if you got Putin thoroughly drunk whether he’d admit it might be a mistake too.”
IOC officials have long collaborated with plunderers, and treated human rights abuses as acceptable if it meant good commerce, regardless of the harm: In Beijing, dissidents were arrested and tortured for refusing to support the Games. But the IOC’s amoral stupidity and avarice may have finally have peaked in Sochi. Activists have been jailed; homeowners evicted without compensation; 25 construction workers have died at stadium sites; illegal dumps of toxic construction waste have ruined local drinking water and caused homes to sink; and Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister, alleges up to $30 billion has been stolen in preparing for the Games. Now we can add $3 billion in security costs to the price of hosting this festival of malevolence and greed.
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