Ignored by Authorities, Sochi Evictees Cry for Help

"Government of the RF, step down!" in Sochi. Source: Kasparov.ruResidents of Sochi being evicted from their homes to make way for Olympic construction rallied for the sixth time since the beginning of the summer over the weekend, in a desperate attempt to bring attention to their plight and to call for the entire Russian government to step down, Kasparov.ru reports.

On Sunday evening, about 100 people gathered to protest across from the Sochi railway station, many with their children. Posters were raised that read “government of the RF, step down!”, “the government is scorning the people!”, “the Olympic law is against the constitution!” and others.

Addressing the crowd, lead protesters explained that entire families in Sochi were being thrown out onto the streets, their homes and land being taken away, and their belongings crushed by bulldozers – in their words, hundreds of Sochi residents have been made homeless.

Much was said about the lawlessness of the judicial and executive branches of government, corruption in the law enforcement system, and that the ruling party will use any excuse to drive out Sochi residents if it means there will be more room for the wealthy. The protesters also issued a call for people to not vote for the “anti-people” party United Russia in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Irina Brovkina, who organized the event, said local authorities have thus far ignored their protests because the group has been speaking out against the leading United Russia party.

Despite an invitation from organizers, no officials from the United Russia leadership showed up at the protest.

The protesters suffered from numerous provocations during their demonstration, with groups of young people verbally harassing them and two passers-by attempting to grab their megaphone and shout pro-United Russia slogans.

The preparations for Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics have been fraught with violations to human and civil rights, labor rights, and the environment almost since day one. A federal law regulating the organization of the preparation for the games was passed in December 2007, which has then been amended to include provisions allowing land and property to be confiscated by the state if it lies in the way of plans for Olympic facility construction. According to the amendments, a property owner has one month to decide what amount of compensation he wants for his property, which will then undergo analysis by an independent assessor contracted by the state-owned corporation Olimpstroy and the Krasnodarsky Krai regional government. If the amount of compensation does not suit the owner, the case is to be looked at by a court, whose decision is to be immediately carried out.

However, many families have complained that the amount of compensation proposed by the authorities is low or that alternative housing – in rural mountain villages or adjacent to airport radar beacons – is incomparable to their homes in the seaside Imeretinskaya Valley.

Meanwhile, according to Kasparov.ru, Russian authorities say that the problem of compensating the evicted residents is practically resolved.