World View: Russia Plans Intensive Surveillance of Visitors to Sochi Olympics

World View: Russia Plans Intensive Surveillance of Visitors to Sochi Olympics

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia plans intensive surveillance of visitors to Sochi Olympics
  • EU officials jeered and heckled on visit to Lampedusa Island
  • Congressmen forced to reuse gym towels

Russia plans intensive surveillance of visitors to Sochi Olympics

Sochi 2014 Olympics site construction (AFP)
Sochi 2014 Olympics site construction (AFP)

Russia is planning near total surveillance of all visitors to theWinter Olympics, to be held February 7-23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia, aswell as athletes and journalists. The good news is that Russia willprovide all visitors with free, fast internet services that will be apleasure to use, provided that you don’t mind that each and everydigital communication passing through the city’s telephone andinternet services will be intercepted.

In addition, Russia is doing everything possible to make sure thatthere are no protests in Sochi, and that there isn’t even any negativemedia coverage. Russia is barring journalists from visiting Sochi ifthey’ve written things in the past critical of Russia’s government.

Russia’s ban on public protests is mainly targeting one category ofprotesters — the Circassians. Russia has admitted that when theywere awarded the rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in the beautifulBlack Sea resort of Sochi, they underestimated a very important issue:the ethnic Circassians. As I first reported in “30-Oct-10 News — Caucasus terrorism / politics becomes embroiled in 2014 Olympics”, the regionaround Sochi used to be the home of ethnic Circassians. But they wereslaughtered and driven out of Sochi by the Russians in a generationalcrisis war that climaxed in a massive genocidal battle in 1864. Andthat makes 2014 the 150th anniversary of that climactic battle. Inthe three years since I first reported on it, the Circassian situationhas gone from an obscure little known problem to a major issue facingthe 2014 Olympics.

Russia is taking offense at anyone who refers to the 1864 battle as aCircassian genocide, but that didn’t stop Georgia’s president MikheilSaakashvili, who has very little love for Russia or for Russia’spresident Vladimir Putin, after the latter led a Russian invasion ofGeorgia in 2008, annexing two of Georgia’s provinces. Last month,Saakashvili gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Inthat speech, he spoke of how Russia was oppressing nations that wantedto join the European Union. He said that “the Georgian nation hassuffered an embargo, a war, an invasion, and an occupation – all since2006.” He went through a list of historical outrages, including thefollowing:

“And this is why I have launched several projectsduring my Presidency reinforcing the people-to-people contactsbetween North and South Caucasus, projects focusing mostly oneducation and on University exchanges.

That’s why the Georgian Parliament has recognized [in May, 2011]genocide of Circassian people – one of the most unknown and tragicpages of history of the world, when the whole nation was wiped outbecause their land was needed by the Russian Empire.

We need to build on those small efforts. We need to prepare forthe times when the Empire collapses. So that its legacy of hatredis swiftly overcome.”

The “Empire” whose collapse he’s predicting is the Russian Empire.But more significant is his statement that Georgia’s Parliamentrecognized the genocide of the Circassian people in 1864. The Russiandelegation staged a walkout during Saakashvili’s speech.

The Circassian situation is just one of many potential securityproblems that Russia faces in Sochi, at the edge of the volatile NorthCaucasus. So if you plan to visit the Sochi Olympics, don’t besurprised to find that every possible form of hyper-security is beingimposed. CS Monitor and Jamestown and Civil (Georgia)

EU officials jeered and heckled on visit to Lampedusa Island

Divers are still recovering bodies from the horrendous accident lastThursday in a boat carrying 500 migrants from North Africa toLampedusa Island, as we reported recently. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso visitedLampedusa for a photo op on Wednesday, where he expected to be cheeredby the local residents. Instead, dozens of people hurled abuse, withinsults like “disgrace” and “killers.” It seems that EU politicianshave made frequent promises on the subject of illegal immigration topeople not only in Italy, but also in Greece and Spain, and have neverfollowed through on any of those promises. Deutsche-Welle

Congressmen forced to reuse gym towels

Congressmen who use the Capitol gym are faced with a major newhardship: Because of the government shutdown, they have to reuse theirtowels. Of course, other parks and buildings in Washington are shutdown (except those needed by President Obama’s political friends), butthe Capitol gym is being kept open because Congressmen are veryspecial and deserve such a privilege. It’s true that having to reusetheir towels is a hardship that these public servants should not beforced to bear, but at least they know that they’re getting a specialObamacare subsidy, so that they won’t have to pay the sameastronomical Obamacare health insurance rates that everyone else isgoing to have to pay. The Hill

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