Russian President Vladimir Putin has another problem on his hands with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Word is spreading that many people lost their homes for the games and received next to nothing in compensation.
Tatyana Samokhval comforted her mother Valentina Khlystova (pictured above) as the Russian government demolished the family home. At first her husband Sergei and his son-in-law Maxim (Tatyana’s husband) tried to block the bulldozers. They eventually had to admit defeat and watch in pain as it was taken down.
Nina Toromonyan was forced to give up her home under Law 301, which allowed the government to take over any land and buildings, even private, for the Winter Olympics. The police showed up on October 23 and took everyone out by force if they resisted.
“It was a very Soviet way of doing things: anything for a noble purpose,” Maryan said. “Given the ample corruption around this theme, the project became a disaster for many families.”
One officer dragged Toromonyan’s older sister by the hair as she kicked and wailed. Toromonyan’s 63-year-old husband, Karapet, tried to intervene but was clubbed and forced to the ground, she said. One of the frightened grandchildren, 9-year-old Grisha, pleaded with the policemen: “Please, don’t shoot, don’t kill us.” His mother tried to calm him, saying it was just a movie being shot and no one would get hurt.
The property was given to her father-in-law because of his service during World War II. This did not matter to the authorities. They decided the house stood in the way of the Sochi-Adler highway, which is where the events are located. There is only one problem: The highway was already built two miles from the house.
“In accordance with that law we have relocated more than 1,000 people and we paid good compensation or offered them other housing,” said Sergei Somko, deputy chief of the Olympics department of the Krasnodar regional administration. “Very few people complained, and when they did it was up to courts to decide what should be done. Those houses that were initially built with violations, or illegally, were not entitled to compensations.”
Russia gave the entire family $152,000 and all are living in cheap rental property. Toromonyan returns to feed the family’s pets and sit between the two houses next to her old home. The government ruled they were not in the way.
Angela Zilberg built two apartment buildings in central Sochi and both were demolished in the middle of a rainy day in October. She said the police threw out all the furniture and would not wait for her to appeal. No one received compensation and she was ordered to pay $100,000.