The Olympics, Sochi and Peace

The 2014 Winter Olympics officially start on the 7th of February in Sochi, Russia. Over the months and weeks leading up to the event, all eyes have been on the Russian government and their preparations for the games. Many have criticised President Vladimir Putin for both his controversial laws and the government’s spending – specifically, the reported expenditure has been brought into question by activists, who claim there are far more hidden costs behind this year’s Winter Olympics. Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny created a website detailing what are believed to be the actual costs.

It seems as though the costs may continue to increase, as some of the projects associated with the Olympics have yet to be complete. Journalists in Sochi have reported that despite constant assurance that everything will be finished in time, much of the construction work surrounding the Olympics is still underway; many footpaths, venues and hotels designated for the games are still building sites, with people beginning to flock to the city.

While the world and global media focus their gaze on Russia, concerns surrounding corruption have been raised repeatedly. However, the state of corruption and financing are not the only issues being raised. Many are worried about potential terrorism and security in a country that has been far from peaceful for a long time.

Russia has struggled with conflict and governance over the years, being ranked among the ten least peaceful countries on the Global Peace Index every year, since it began in 2007. Similarly, many countries are concerned about threats of attacks around Sochi during the games and Russia has a chequered past with such matters; the Global Terrorism Index indicated Russia is one of countries most affected by terrorism, finding itself in the top ten.

Russia has installed more than 50 000 police and soldiers as part of its security provisions for the event and is cooperating with other countries’ security organisations. In its fragile shape, how will the 2014 Winter Olympics pan out for Russia and the rest of the world?

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