Tag Archives: Sochi

Environmental: Exiled environmentalist speaks of ‘impossibility’ of protest in Russia


Suren Gazaryan of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus looks at waste close to the 2014 Sochi construction siteSuren Gazaryan of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus looks at waste close to the 2014 Sochi construction site. Photograph: Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images

Criticising Russian state projects and the destruction of the environment leads to police intimidation, trumped up criminal charges and prison, says a green activist forced to seek political asylum in western Europe after protesting against a luxurious mansion being allegedly built for Vladimir Putin and the destruction of protected wilderness for the winter Olympic games in Sochi.

“It has become almost impossible now to object to grand projects which have the authorities behind them. People are threatened and intimidated,” says zoologist Suren Gazaryan, who on Monday won a $175,000 prize in the Goldman awards, the equivalent of a “green Oscar”. He is now in Germany after receiving political asylum in Estonia.

Gazaryan, with other members of Russian ecological group Environmental Watch on North Caucasus group (EWNC), has been a leading critic of the developments along the Black Sea coast and of the corruption surrounding the Olympics. In the runup to the Sochi games last year, the group issued photographs of the damage created by new roads and building in the national park and the Caucasus reserve. “There has been massive destruction of natural landscapes,” he says.  Continue reading

IOC defends Monday’s removal of gay activist


IOC defends Monday's removal of gay activistVladimir Luxuria, center, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, is led away by friends to attend a women’s ice hockey match after posing for photos on the Olympic Plaza at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Luxuria was soon after detained by police upon entering the Shayba Arena. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defended the removal of an Italian gay rights activist from a Sochi arena, saying she was “escorted from there peacefully” and not detained.

Former Italian lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria was taken away by four unidentified men in a car with Olympic markings as she tried to enter an arena Monday night for a women’s hockey game.

Luxuria, dressed in rainbow colors, had been walking around Olympic Park for nearly two hours, accompanied by a scrum of reporters. Most of the Russian spectators seemed clueless about the gay rights message and some approached her to take a picture, thinking she was a carnival character. Continue reading

Gay-rights activist detained at Olympic Park


Gay-rights activist detained at Olympic ParkVladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, walks in Olympic Park at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Luxuria said she was detained by police at the Olympics after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag that read in Russian: “Gay is OK.” Police on Monday denied this happened. (AP Photo/Steve Barker)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — An Italian gay-rights activist has been detained by Russian police as she entered Shayba Arena at the Olympic Park to watch a hockey game.

Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament who has become a prominent transgender rights crusader and television personality, was led away by four men while shouting “I have a ticket.”

A few minutes later she was put in a car and driven away.

She had been walking around the Olympic Park for about two hours in a rainbow-colored outfit and a huge headdress. She had been shouting “Gay is OK” in English and Russian.

Luxuria earlier said she was detained on Sunday evening by police who told her she should not wear clothes with slogans supporting gay rights. Police denied detaining her.

via Gay-rights activist detained at Olympic Park | The Associated Press.

THE SOUL OF RUSSIA, ON THE ICE


SOCHI, Russia — In an arena filled with waving flags, the coronating presence of President Vladimir V. Putin, bouquets of tossed flowers and a whiff of scandal, Russia won its first gold medal Sunday as host of the Sochi Olympics, taking first place in a new team figure skating competition and reasserting its prominence in the marquee sport of the Winter Games.

The victory at the Iceberg Skating Palace brought a buoyant moment for the home country and a restorative achievement for a dominant figure skating team that had failed to win a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It was the first time since 1960 that Russia or the Soviet Union had failed to win gold in the sport, but it turned out to be a brief drought linked to the sporting tumult that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“It’s important because it is not an individual event but a team event, and it brings joy to the whole country,” said Tamara Moskvina, who has coached Russian pairs skaters to four Olympic gold medals. “Figure skating is our tradition. It combines technique and art, and Russia has great tradition in those fields.”

via THE SOUL OF RUSSIA, ON THE ICE – NYTimes.com.

US lawmakers see serious threat of attacks in Russia during Olympics


WASHINGTON – Top lawmakers from the US House of Representatives’ intelligence and homeland security panels on Sunday warned of a serious threat of attacks in Russia during the Winter Olympics, though US officials say the Olympic grounds are secure.

The Olympics formally opened on Friday in Sochi. Islamist militant groups based in the nearby north Caucasus region have threatened attacks during the Feb. 7-23 Games.

“I’ve never seen a greater threat certainly in my lifetime,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas.

“I think there’s a high degree of probability that something will detonate, something will go off, but I do think it’s probably most likely to happen outside of the ring of steel and the Olympic Village,” he said on “Fox News Sunday”.

Some 37,000 security personnel are on high alert in Sochi and U.S. officials on Sunday said cooperation has improved, though still not enough, between Russian and US intelligence authorities.

“We’re quite satisfied with the level of cooperation we have now,” the US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Janet Napolitano, head of the US Olympic delegation to Sochi and a former Homeland Security chief, also described the level of security at the Games as very good.

via US lawmakers see serious threat of attacks in Russia during Olympics | JPost | Israel News.