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Russia: Human Rights Watch launches alternative torch relay map to highlight human rights abuses related to 2014 Sochi Olympic construction

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19 October 2013

Winter Olympics: Lord Coe speaks out on workers’ welfare and gay rights at Sochi Games [Russia]

Author: Janet Tappin Coelho, The Independent

As work on the Russian Olympic Stadium for the 2014 Winter Games in...Sochi draws to a close, Sebastian Coe has added his voice to the growing controversy over the exploitation of the migrant workers who have helped to build the stadium and associated buildings. “Welfare of the workers is paramount. Even while we want sporting events to be delivered to the very highest standard...workers’ welfare must be recognised and we have to create a climate where this is seen to be very important,” the chairman of the British Olympic Association told The Independent...By signalling that those in charge of the world’s sporting events have a joint duty of care and responsibility to ensure that no excuses or exceptions are used to undermine the welfare, health and safety of construction labourers, Coe becomes one of the most senior sporting figures to speak out on the subject. Charges of systematic abuse of migrant workers and violations of their human rights have dogged the preparations for the Winter Games...The Russian authorities are accused by Human Rights Watch of arresting and holding migrant workers in “arbitrary and inhumane conditions” based on spurious breaches of employment regulations. An estimated 16,000 foreign labourers have been working on the construction of the Olympic facilities...Human Rights Watch says many workers reported employers confiscating their passports, cheating them out of wages and demanding 12-hour shifts with few days off.

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7 October 2013

Russia: Beyond the olympic torch’s glow

Author: Human Rights Watch

As the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Torch Relay kicks off in Moscow...the route is marked by major human rights abuses. As the torch begins its journey, Human Rights Watch is launching a new interactive “alternative torch relay map” to spotlight serious human rights concerns in the cities and towns along the relay route. “Russia’s torch relay aims to display the country’s diversity and history, but human rights abuses are very much a part of Russia’s contemporary geography,” said Jane Buchanan, associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch. “People should be aware of the discrimination, silencing of activists, and other human rights abuses that Russia isn’t showcasing.”... [T]he torch relay will last 123 days, arriving in Sochi on February 7, 2014, for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games...Human Rights Watch’s map highlights key human rights cases in 39 major cities across Russia...In Sochi itself, Human Rights Watch has documented exploitation of many workers engaged in Olympic construction; some evictions to make way for Olympic construction without fair compensation; the refusal to relocate people whose homes are severely damaged or affected by Olympic construction; and pressure on and harassment of environmental and human rights activists and journalists who criticize Olympic preparations or other government policies.

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1 February 2013

[PDF] Race to the bottom: Exploitation of migrant workers ahead of Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

Author: Human Rights Watch

...As this report documents, dozens of...workers suffered abuse and exploitation while employed on key Olympic venues. This report is based on in-depth interviews with 66 migrant workers who...were employed in construction...on Olympic and other sites in Sochi. Migrant workers said employers subjected them to a range of abuses and exploitation, including: failing to pay full wages, excessively delaying payment of wages, and in some cases failing to pay any wages at all; withholding identity documents, such as passports and work permits; failing to provide employment contracts, or failure to respect terms of a contract; and requiring excessive working hours and providing little time off. In many cases, employer-provided housing was overcrowded, and employer-provided meals were inadequate. In several cases...employers retaliated against foreign migrant workers who protested against abuses by denouncing them to the authorities, resulting in the workers’ expulsion from Russia. [refers to State Corporation Olympstroy, Engeocom Association, Botta Management Group AG, LLC RogSibAl [part of Glavstroy], Basic Element, STRABAG SE, Construction Technology Transfer Center “Omega”, Inzhtransstroy Corporation, SU-45, KubanStroyInvest [owned by Snegiri Development], MonArch, Novii Gorod]

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Author: Хьюман Райтс Вотч

Незаконное выселение одной из сочинских семей бросает тень на подготовку к зимним Олимпийским играм 2014 г. в Сочи, заявила Хьюман Райтс Вотч…«Снос дома и принудительное выселение этой семьи с маленькими детьми – это трагедия, которой вполне можно было избежать, - говорит Джейн Бьюкенен, старший исследователь по Европе и Центральной Азии…[C]удебные приставы выселили семью Хлыстовых, недвижимость которых была изъята под олимпийское строительство без компенсации…Сергей Хлыстов прожил в скромном двухэтажном доме в…Сочи 16 лет. С ним жили жена, дочь, зять и двое внуков - 3 и 8 лет…Власти утверждают, что Хлыстовы незаконно пользовались землей и домом на ней, и судились с этой семьей, чтобы изъять участок под олимпийское строительство…В…2010 г. чиновники из «Олимпстроя» - государственной корпорации, отвечающей за строительство объектов и инфраструктуры зимних Олимпийских игр 2014 г., информировали Хлыстовых, что их дом находится в зоне олимпийского строительства и что семья будет переселена в новый дом поблизости. Сочинские власти передали землю в этом районе…в пользование «Олимпстрою». Однако в…2011 г. сочинская администрация подала на Хлыстовых в суд за незаконное строительство дома на их участке земли.

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19 September 2012

Russia: Forced eviction tramples olympic ideals

Author: Human Rights Watch

...The illegal eviction of a family in Sochi casts a dark shadow over preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Human Rights Watch said...“The home demolition and forced eviction of this family with young children is a tragedy that was completely avoidable,” said Jane Buchanan, senior researcher for the Europe and Central Asia division...[C]ourt bailiffs removed the Khlistov family, whose property was expropriated for Olympic construction without compensation...Sergei Khlistov has been living in a modest two-story house in...Sochi for 16 years. His wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, ages 4 and 8, also live in the home...The authorities claim that the Khlistovs’ use of the land and the home were illegal and sued the family in order to expropriate the land for Olympic use...In...2010, officials from Olympstroi, the state corporation responsible for the construction of venues and related infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Games, informed the Khlistovs that their home fell within the scope of Olympic construction projects and that the family would be relocated to a newly built home in the area. The Sochi authorities transferred use of the land...to Olympstroi. In...2011...the Sochi administration sued the Khlistovs for illegal construction of a home on the land.

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