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RFE/RL Reports: Sochi Outside The Arena

The "Bolshoy" Ice Dome stadium, as seen from Bakinskaya Street in Sochi (3Jan2013)
The "Bolshoy" Ice Dome stadium, as seen from Bakinskaya Street in Sochi (3Jan2013)
When the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi on February 7, the world will see sparkling new stadiums, state-of-the-art ski lifts, and freshly paved roads. But scratching this glitzy facade reveals another -- darker -- reality of local residents displaced, migrant workers exploited, and an ecosystem trashed. RFE/RL's three-part special report on location in Sochi adds up the true expense of Russia's Olympics, the most costly games ever, that go well beyond the hefty $51-billion price tag.

Rounding out RFE/RL's coverage, other reports look at the politics and popularity of Sochi's games.

# Dozens of Serbian workers have returned to Serbia and the ethnic-Serbian part of Bosnia with horror stories of their time working these construction jobs . Correspondent Tom Balmforth and RFE/RL's Balkans Service correspondents Zoran Glavonijic and Marija Arnautovic report.

# The heads of nine Circassian organizations have issued a joint statement condemning the December terrorist bombings in the south Russian city of Volgograd, affirming the signatories’ shared commitment to use only legitimate measures in their ongoing struggle “for the unity, preservation and development of the Circassian people,” without raising the demand for a separate Circassian republic or the equally sensitive issue of formal recognition by the Russian leadership that the Circassians were the victims of genocide. By analyst Liz Fuller.

# Appearing on Fox News this weekend, actor Steven Seagal has tried to dispel security fears in Sochi by praising Russian President Vladimir Putin as a great leader and the country's Federal Security Service as a world class antiterrorism unit. Another report by Balmforth.

# "Other" wins an online poll asking respondents how much they are looking forward to the games. Correspondent Glenn Kates has more.

# How much does an Olympic medal weigh and how long does one take to produce? How many security personnel be on the streets of Sochi during the games? And how many times could you have built the world's tallest skyscraper for the cost of the 2014 Olympic Games. The mind-boggling numbers behind the 2014 Winter Olympics .

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