The next Winter Games may not pass so peacefully as Vancouver 2010.
Russia’s Sochi is located at the border of the Caucasus mountains, home to Chechnya and five other autonomous republics that have resisted Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Last summer TIME ran an article an article on assassinations, blood feuds, and gang wars that plague the regions: “Has Russia Lost Control Of The North Caucasus?“
Let’s hope not, because soon we’ll be skiing on them.
Sochi borders Russia’s six autonomous republics of the Northern Caucasus, home of the Chechen wars and violent feuding that surfaced after the breakup of the Soviet Union and continues to date. All of the republics have severe social problems that stem from massive unemployment and bad governance. Islamist extremism and the terrorism associated with it continues to be a threat. In Ingushetia, the clashes between local militias and the government restarted in 2009 with even more violence than before. For 18 years, Chechnya has not known real peace; the fights between separatists and pro-Russian authorities have been replaced by the murders and kidnapping of human rights activists and opposition politicians. In 2009, Freedom House placed Chechnya on its “Worst of the Worst” list of most repressive societies.
And Chechnya is not Sochi’s only vicious regional neighbour. The entire region of the Northern and Southern Caucasus Mountains are an intricate web of ethnic minorities and long-standing conflicts. Indeed, the first shots of the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war were fired as the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games got underway. Eighteen months later, the level of tension has not significantly diminished.
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