Matthew Bado Photo Courtesy rawstory.com (Fair Use)
The 2014 Winter Olympics controversy is the result of a gradually growing opposition to Russia’s stance on human rights. Some of the major disputes are over Russia’s treatment of the Circassians/Adyghe People in the 19th century, as some claim that the Russian empire’s treatment of the Circassians was, essentially, genocide. Other disputes have been over environmental and economic issues, a lack of political stability, and a concern for the safety of LGBT participants.
Since 2010 a house for LGBT Olympic Athletes has been established, typically by a NGO (Non-Government Organization). However, the Russian Ministry of Justice struck down an attempt to create a house at the Sochi Olympics. The ban was upheld by a Krasnodar Krai (Russian: Краснода́рский край, Sochi’s province/federal district) Judge, on the basis of the house inciting “Propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of Russian society and state and provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity,” as relayed by CNN in 2012.
Despite the controversy and calls for boycott, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that they had been reassured by the Russian government that Russia’s legislation would not affect those attending. However, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs contradicted this three days after the statement was released, when it said that their anti-propaganda laws would still be enforced.
Another major concern leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics has been the stability of the region. The area around Sochi has been somewhat unstable since the conclusion of the 2008 South Ossetia War between Russia and Georgia (a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia known as საქართველო to Georgians). The North Caucasus is known for harboring separatists (supporters of separatism which is advocacy for a state of separation from a larger group), the Russian Mafia, militants, and other extremists such as Chechen rebels and Islamic militants. Two suicide bombings during 2013 in Volgograd (Stalingrad) have only fanned the flames of concern. However, similar to the case with human rights, the International Olympic Committee stated that they trust Russia’s security arrangements for the Winter Olympics. The 2014 Winter Olympics, with its many concerns and controversies, is turning into one of the most-discussed athletic competitions in years.