Sochi Residents Speak Out Against Forced Evictions

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Residents of the Nizhneimeretinsky (Lower Imeretinsky) Bukhta, the low-lands area where most of the Olympic village will be built for the 2014 Sochi olympics, have written an open letter to plead against the forced eviction of locals. As the Sobkor®ru news agency reported on March 20th, the letter is directed at the Russian and international community, Russian authorities, and representatives of the International Olympic Committee.

Residents believe that despite the promises that the Olympics will “serve people, bringing them health, happiness and joy, [the planned Olympics] are in fact remaking the destinies of hundreds of Sochi families… not for sport, and not for the prospect of developing [the] city of SOCHI.”

“The Olympics will pass through in two weeks, while we will lose our “SMALL HOMELAND” forever!”, the residents write.

The full letter follows:

An address from the residents of Nizhneimeretinsky Bukhta to the Russian and international communities, representatives of the Russian authorities, and officials of the International Olympic Committee.

We, the residents of the Nizhneimeretinsky Bukhta, address this to you personally with belief and hope.

Help us to protect and save our “SMALL HOMELAND”! Officials have spoken from every platform to tell the whole world that there would be no demolition of houses and no seizure of lands from residents of the Nizhneimeretinsky Bukhta, and that the Olympic stadiums were planned for and would be built on unoccupied land, which, in fact, we have more than enough of.

Yet the meeting with Viktor Kolodyazhny (the mayor of Sochi), denoted a sharp problem on the relocation of residents of the Nizhneimeretinsky Bukhta. We are categorically opposed to this decision by the authorities.

It is clear, that in our modest lives, we don’t fit in with the grandiose plans of the “powers that be.” When the prices for land in Sochi grew beyond belief, our land, right on the sea, sparked many people’s interest. Now it holds tremendous worth, and not for the Olympics, but for business. At one time, this land did not exist. There was impassable malarial marshland and swamp, which our grandfathers and great-grandfathers drained and cultivated, dying from malaria and fever. This land was obtained not only with an exchange of life, but also with gold paid to the Russian government. Every family had in its possession, 50 acres under Tsarist rule; 37 sotok [a traditional Russian measure of land, equalling 100 square meters] under the Bolsheviks; 15 sotok under the Communists; 7 sotok under the democrats; and a ? (questionable) amount “Today.”

Today, we are appealing to the public authority and asking them to protect our rights, guaranteed by the Russian Constitution – the right of property of every Russian citizen! The current structures want to take possession of our lands, in order to continue cashing in at the expense of the modest people, who have grown almost affluent by chance. [And they want to] buy us off with what they themselves consider sufficient! According to the talk, the Olympics serve people, bringing them health, happiness and joy, but in fact they are remaking the destinies of hundreds of Sochi families, and as it looks to us, not for sport, and not for the prospect of developing our city of SOCHI. The Olympics will pass through in two weeks, while we will lose our “SMALL HOMELAND” forever!

By law, properties of equal worth must be provided. But where can they be found for Everyone, if [those providing them] need [the land] themselves? The relocation of people from private homes into apartments. Presenting people who live on the sea with lands remote and distanced from it. Compensation with a fair price? Such a thing is completely unequal!! And it is not at all clear why land immediately on the coast of the Black Sea is needed to conduct the winter Olympics in Sochi.

More than enough unoccupied land with a way out to sea exists for the placement of Olympic facilities and the Olympic park, starting from the motocross field and ending at the “Yuzhny kultury” state farm, with the “Yuzhny kultury” dendrological park. We would even understand the necessity of tearing down one house, as with the building of the airport, if it stood at the center of the state’s interests in relation to solving Olympic problems. But we cannot understand how a whole village could interfere (with more than 100 houses, with several families living in each house).

Whose interests are the Olympics, which must bring peace to the whole world, pursuing, if they are denigrating their own people in this way!!!

Residents of the Nizhneimeretinsky Bukhta

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