Human Rights Watch is out with a scathing rebuke of Russia, saying journalists and activists are being silenced ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Is this the same Russia that Edward Snowden is cozying up to, despite saying he valued liberties?
Local authorities have harassed numerous activists and journalists who criticized or expressed concerns about preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The six-month countdown to the Sochi Games opening ceremony is this week.
Human Rights Watch has documented government efforts to intimidate several organizations and individuals who have investigated or spoken out against abuse of migrant workers, the impact of the construction of Olympics venues and infrastructure on the environment and health of residents, and unfair compensation for people forcibly evicted from their homes. Human Rights Watch also documented how authorities harassed and pursued criminal charges against journalists, apparently in retaliation for their legitimate reporting.
“Trying to bully activists and journalists into silence is wrong and only further tarnishes the image of the Olympics,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “One of the non-negotiable requirements of hosting the Olympics is to allow press freedom, and the authorities’ attempts to silence critics are in clear violation of that principle.”
“Preparations for the Sochi Games have been plagued with serious human rights abuses and other problems, many of which have only been brought to light through the efforts of activists and journalists,” Buchanan said. “If the IOC is committed to these issues, it should ask the Russian authorities to immediately stop harassing activists, organizations, and journalists, and investigate allegations of abuse.” Source: Human Rights Watch