Russia: Human rights abuses related to 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

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Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, 7-23 February.  Construction in preparation for the Olympics involves the building of sports venues, hotels, roads, telecommunications systems, transportation hubs, and other major infrastructure needed to support several weeks of Olympic sports.  According to Human Rights Watch, tens of thousands of workers, a large number of whom are foreign migrant workers, are building 136 Olympic sites.  Media, activists, human rights organizations and other NGOs have been highlighting human rights abuses related to these works, including: exploitation of workers engaged in Olympic construction; illegal dumping of construction waste threatening residents' health & safety; evictions and displacement to make way for Olympic construction, sometimes without fair compensation; refusal to relocate people whose homes are severely damaged or affected by Olympic construction; and pressure on and harassment of environmental and human rights activists and journalists who criticise Olympic preparations or other government policies.

State-owned and private companies are involved in many of these alleged abuses.  This page features main reports and developments on human rights impacts related to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, highlighting the role and responsibilities of companies.  We will continue to add new reports & coverage on an ongoing basis. 


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Latest updates

Why the IOC’s Choice of Sochi Violates UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Michael Kourabas, Triple Pundit (USA), 10 Feb 2014 


[PDF] The IOC and FIFA have the power and the leverage to make the Olympic Games and the World Cup more ‘socially responsible’
, Jordi Lesaffer, Vigeo Rating, 1 Oct 2013

  • Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited IOC to respond: [DOC] IOC response, 24 Feb 2014

Are companies involved with 2014 Olympics in Sochi wilfully ignoring human rights?, Ella Skybenko, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, in KyivPost (Ukraine), 7 Feb 2014

    [Russian] [DOC] Дело выбора: компании, задействованные в Зимней Олимпиаде 2014 в Сочи, сознательно игнорируют права человека?, Элла Скибенко, Ресурсный центр по вопросам бизнеса и прав человека, в KyivPost (Украина), 7 февраля 2014 года

Companies can help advance human rights; Sochi shows they rarely use it, Ella Skybenko, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, in The Guardian (UK), 7 Feb 2014

Google joins brands' pre-Olympic protest of Russia's anti-gay law, Tim Peterson, Ad Age, 6 Feb 2014

AT&T Takes Stand Against Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Ahead of Olympics, Olga Kharif, Bloomberg Businessweek, 5 Feb 2014

AT&T Becomes First Major Advertiser to Protest Russia’s Antigay Law, Stuart Elliott, New York Times, 4 Feb 2014

For Russians in Olympics' shadow, Sochi construction leaving them in the cold Carlo Angerer, Producer, NBC News, 4 Feb 2014

The Sochi Games and human rights: What is the responsibility of corporate sponsors?, Christine Bader, Human Rights Advisor, BSR, 3 Feb 2014

Russia: Pressure escalates on Sochi corporate sponsors, Human Rights Watch, 31 Jan 2014

Amnesty International directors to deliver global petition to Russian President ahead of Sochi Olympics, Amnesty International, 27 Jan 2014

[PDF] The Olympic violations: The Winter Olympic games in Sochi, the Swedish sponsors and human rights, Swedwatch, 1 Jan 2014

 


Companies involved

Information about companies that are involved in construction for the 2014 Sochi Olympics - note this is not comprehensive: we will update it as information becomes available. Companies involved range from small and medium-sized firms, to major construction firms.

[PDF] Race to the bottom: Exploitation of migrant workers ahead of Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Human Rights Watch, February 2013 – The report documents alleged abuses against migrant workers by construction firms involved in the Olympic construction. Human Rights Watch invited all firms mentioned in the report to respond to alleged abuses, including State Corporation Olympstroy, Engeocom Association, Botta Management Group AG, LLC RogSibAl [part of Glavstroy], Basic Element, STRABAG SE, Construction Technology Transfer Center “Omega”, Inzhtransstroy Corporation, SU-45, KubanStroyInvest [owned by Snegiri Development], MonArch, Novii Gorod. Firms’ responses/comments are included in the report.

- [Russian] [PDF] Олимпийские антирекорды: Эксплуатация трудовых мигрантов в ходе подготовки к зимним Олимпийским  играм  2014 г. в Сочи, Хьюман Райтс Вотч, февраль 2013 года


NGO & other reports

AT&T Condemns Anti-LGBT Law in Russia, Sets Example for Other Olympic Sponsors, Human Rights Campaign, 4 Feb 2014

Russia: Beyond the Olympic torch’s glow, Human Rights Watch, 7 Oct 2013 - Human Rights Watch launched a new interactive "alternative torch relay map" to spotlight serious human rights concerns in the cities and towns along the relay route. The map highlights key human rights cases in 39 major cities across Russia 

- [Russian] Россия: Другая сторона эстафеты олимпийского огня, Хьюман Райтс Вотч, 7 октября 2013 года

[PDF] The IOC and FIFA have the power and the leverage to make the Olympic Games and the World Cup more ‘socially responsible’, Jordi Lesaffer, Vigeo Rating, 1 Oct 2013


Russia: Forced eviction tramples Olympic ideals
, Human Rights Watch, 19 Sep 2012

- [Russian] Россия: принудительное выселение попирает олимпийские идеалы, Хьюман Райтс Вотч, 20 сентября 2012 года

Letter to the International Olympic Committee: Human rights concerns related to Sochi Games, Human Rights Watch, 1 Oct 2009

- [Russian] Письмо Руководителю секретариата президента МОК, Хьюман Райтс Вотч, 1 октября 2009 года

Russia vows Olympic workers will get all unpaid wages, Wall Street Journal, 10 Jan 2014

Russia: Olympic construction devastates Sochi village, Human Rights Watch, 30 Dec 2013

       [Russian] Россия: Олимпийское строительство разрушает село в Сочи, Хьюман Райтс Вотч, 30 декабря 2013 года


Press coverage

AT&T Takes Stand Against Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Ahead of Olympics, Olga Kharif, Bloomberg Businessweek, 5 Feb 2014

AT&T Becomes First Major Advertiser to Protest Russia’s Antigay Law, Stuart Elliott, New York Times, 4 Feb 2014

"Russia: Olympic sponsors muted on Sochi abuses", Human Rights Watch, 18 Nov 2013

[Russian] Россия: Олимпийские спонсоры хранят молчание по поводу нарушений в Сочи, Хьюман Райтс Вотч, 19 ноября 2013 года

[French] JO de Sotchi/Droits de l’homme: Amnesty international accuse les sponsors [Russie],  Ambroise Dagnon, Africa Top Sports (Togo), 22 novembre 2013

[PDF] EU-Russia Civil Society Forum demands an end to persecution of ecological activists in the host region of the Winter Olympics 2014, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, 14 Nov 2013

[Russian] [PDF] Гражданский Форум ЕС-Россия требует прекратить преследования экологических активистов в регионе проведения Зимних Олимпийских Игр-2014, Гражданский Форум ЕС-Россия, 14 ноября 2013 года

IOC, Russia urged to investigate Sochi waste-dumping, Associated Press, 31 Oct 2013

Russia: Sochi worker sews mouth shut in pay protest – video, Guardian, 18 Oct 2013

Winter Olympics: Lord Coe speaks out on workers’ welfare and gay rights at Sochi Games, Independent, 19 Oct 2013

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Related stories and components

Article
7 February 2014

Are companies involved with 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi wilfully ignoring human rights?

Author: Ella Skybenko, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, in KyivPost (Ukraine)

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi start today...The multi-billion investment in prestige projects contrasts violently with the neglect of the human rights of workers who built them, the local people who have lost their homes and health, and...

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Article
4 February 2014

For Russians in Olympics' shadow, Sochi construction leaving them in the cold

Author: Carlo Angerer, Producer, NBC News

...Atop a small mountain ridge just outside Sochi, 73-year-old Nadezhda Kuharenko’s small house stands in the middle of a vegetable garden...Ever since construction for the Olympics began in 2009, huge trucks with heavy equipment have rumbled past her...

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Article
3 February 2014

The Sochi Games and human rights: What is the responsibility of corporate sponsors?

Author: Christine Bader, Human Rights Advisor, BSR

With the Winter Olympic Games about to kick off in Sochi, the role of corporate sponsors is under scrutiny...[M]uch of the attention is on what...Olympic corporate partners are doing to speak up for LGBT rights in Russia in light of domestic...

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Article
31 January 2014

Russia: Pressure escalates on Sochi corporate sponsors

Author: Human Rights Watch

...Corporate sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics should act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment, and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 40 of the world’s leading human rights...

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Article
10 January 2014

Russia vows Olympic workers will get all unpaid wages

Author: The Wall Street Journal

...Russian officials...promised that unpaid wages for workers who built the Sochi Olympic site would be settled before the Games start next month, but some human rights advocates expressed skepticism that the remuneration would be fully paid. The...

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Article
1 January 2014

[PDF] The Olympic violations: The Winter Olympic games in Sochi, the Swedish sponsors and human rights

Author: Swedwatch

...In this report Swedwatch has interviewed The Swedish Olympic Committee, SOC, and their sponsors in order to gain their opinion regarding the Olympic movement’s responsibility for the effects on human rights in the host country, as well as what...

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Article
30 December 2013

Russia: Olympic construction devastates Sochi village

Author: Human Rights Watch

...Olympic construction has left the mountain village of Akhshtyr without a reliable water supply for more than five years and has cut villagers off from public transportation and other services...In 2008 the authorities paved the dirt road running...

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Article
30 December 2013
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Author: Хьюман Райтс Вотч

…В результате строительства олимпийских объектов горное село Ахштырь уже пять лет остается без надежного водоснабжения и отрезано от общественного транспорта и другой инфраструктуры…В 2008 году власти заасфальтировали грунтовую дорогу, проходившую...

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Article
22 November 2013
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Author: Ambroise Dagnon, Africa Top Sports (Togo)

L’ONG Amnesty international accuse les parraineurs des jeux de Sotchi de cautionner la loi russe contre les homosexuels. L’ONG internationale de défense des droits de l’homme reproche notamment aux principaux parraineurs des JO de Sotchi de se...

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Article
18 November 2013

Russia: Olympic sponsors muted on Sochi abuses

Author: Human Rights Watch

Leading corporate sponsors of the Olympics have yet to speak out strongly against the rights abuses linked to the preparations for the Sochi Winter Games, to be hosted by Russia in February 2014...Minky Worden... Human Rights Watch [said] “Sponsors...

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