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Russia -- Russian policemen in front of a banner promoting the 2014 Sochi Olympic games - 03jul2007

With the conclusion of the Vancouver Olympics, attention has now shifted to the Russian Federation, with questions being raised not only about the country’s athletic performance, but its treatment of news and information surrounding preparations for the 2014 Sochi winter games.

Reporters without Borders (RSF), which meticulously reported on media restrictions in connection with the 2004 Beijing Olympics, has issued an early alarm about the lack of media independence in Sochi. Click here for the summary and report.

”Sochi’s selection for the 2014 Games was given totally uniform coverage in the local media. Press-ganged into supporting the Kremlin policy of “the games at any cost,” they never reported the environmental concerns or the protests, such as those by the Imeretinskaya Bay residents facing eviction, except to brand them as anti-patriotic.” RSF calls the situation “symptomatic” of a power structure under which the media and the resources necessary to support it are firmly under the local authorities’ thumb.

In an interview in Foreign Policy, Boris Nemtsov, a leader of Russia’s opposition Solidarity movement and a candidate in Sochi’s 2009 mayoral elections, comments on plans for the Sochi games saying, “It is impossible in Russia today to criticize any of the government's decisions in the government-controlled media.”