Money Pours Into Sochi, and Life Gets Worse for the People Who Live There

Behind the Olympic façade.


The Sochi Games are reportedly the most expensive Winter Olympics ever, by some estimates costing as much as $51 billion. With all that money flowing around, you might assume life is improving for the people who live in the area. Guess again:

Click for more sardonic Olympics art.
Vasily Slonov

The residents of 5a Akatsy Street have lived for years with no running water or sewage system. Construction for the 2014 Winter Games has made their lives more miserable: The new highway has cut them off from the city center. Even their communal outhouse had to be torn down because it was found to be too close to the new road and ruled an eyesore.

The slum is one of the many facets of a hidden dark side in the host city of this month's Winter Olympics, which stands side-by-side with the glittering new construction projects that President Vladimir Putin is touting as a symbol of Russia's transformation from a dysfunctional Soviet leviathan to a successful, modern economy. While state-run TV trains its cameras on luxury malls, sleek stadiums and high-speed train links, thousands of ordinary people in the Sochi area put up with squalor and environmental waste: villagers living next to an illegal dump filled with Olympic construction waste, families whose homes are sinking into the earth, city dwellers suffering chronic power cuts despite promises to improve electricity.

Putin promoted the Sochi Games, which begin Friday, as a unique opportunity to bring investment to the Black Sea resort and improve living standards for its 350,000 residents. Looking back at those promises, many residents, weary from years of living in the midst of Russia's biggest construction project in modern history, say they have yet to see any improvement in their lives and point to an array of negative effects.

"Everyone was looking forward to the Olympics," said Alexandra Krivchenko, a 37-year-old mother of three who lives on Akatsy Street. "We just never thought they would leave us bang in the middle of a federal highway!"

Elsewhere in Reason: Why no sane city should want to host the Olympics.

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  1. Man, Russia just cannot get away from Potemkin villages, can they?

  2. I’m finding it very hard to have any empathy for any russians. It’s entirely their fault; they got the government that they deserved. Until they do something about it, fuck em.

    1. Except White Russians. I don’t mind those every now and then.

      1. You know who else liked White Russians?

        1. Imperial Germany?

      2. Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here!

      3. This lactose intolerant alcoholic likes his Russians black.

        1. So did Natalya Goncharova.

    2. Totally agree Warren/Clinton 2016.

      You’ll get what you deserve and you’ll like it.

      1. hooray suicide.

      2. Our first Native American President!

        1. No, our first Native American female president! With a female vice president! Triple whammy!

          I swear if you float this to TEAM BLUE that’s what they’re going to think. After Obama, they are now super-addicted to “first [insert meaningless collectivist identity politics here] anything”.

          1. If only she were gay and handicapped–then America’s problems would be permanently solved.

            1. I think she had carpal tunnel once, and may own a Melissa Etheridge album . .

            2. There’s still time for Hilary to come out of the closet.

            3. Retardation can count as “handicapped”, so that’s covered!

              Gay – someone else will have to figure that one out.

              1. There’s a family tradition that they’ve always FELT gay . . .

              2. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be the first retarded president though, we’ve had several.

                And FDR was in a wheelchair, so that’s already been done anyway.

                1. They hid his handicap, though. That shame must be erased.

  3. “We just never thought they would leave us bang in the middle of a federal highway!”

    Not thinking is probably what got you into this mess in the first place, lady.

    1. She should just be thankful it wasn’t “BANG”, then left in the middle of the highway.

      1. Are you kidding? That’s valuable construction material. More like left *in* the highway.

    2. Wait baby, wait. Let me get some romantic music started that fits the occasion.


    3. All those other Potemkin Villagers from previous Olympics were savvy and well-informed.

    4. Lots of people will support “the big government project” until it fucks them right in the ass.

      1. Even then they’ll still support big government if the right TOP MEN are brought in, or special exceptions are made to gore someone else’s ox.

  4. “We just never thought they would leave us bang in the middle of a federal highway!”

    Joe, is that you?

  5. “Communal outhouse” may be one of the saddest phrases ever constructed.

    1. Hey, at least they weren’t shitting in the street.

      1. They are now.

  6. Not a whole lot changed for poor people in Atlanta, either. Also, resort cities everywhere do their best to hide their squalid undersides, rather than deal with the problem.

    1. Also, resort cities everywhere do their best to hide their squalid undersides, rather than deal with the problem.

      Government can’t “fix” the problem. The problem is usually the government interventions (with economies) to start with. So, naturally, it must resort to what it actually can do, which is resort to varying degrees of violence to hide the symptoms of the problems that it’s caused.

      1. I would count reducing harmful interference and empowering people as dealing with the problem, but of course, that’s an awful lot to ask of any given government, especially at the municipal level.

  7. Man, deader than a Pakistani wedding party around here. I just had to wonder into a CNN thread, some reason wondering what the beautiful people were thinking on the feud between Perry and Christie.


    denny47 Burrito Jackson
    ? 3 hours ago

    Why are you righties so afraid of the obama monster…… hes behaved very much like a Republican….. waged war non stop, killed bushes evil doer, bailed out wall street, propped up big business like the auto industry and left main street with a laughable mitt romney style healthplan……..could it be the color of his skin and nothing more

    27 1
    texrat denny47
    ? an hour ago

    Shhhh– don’t confuse them with facts.

    Let me guess, knowing all of that you voted again for him in 2012; so, racism?

    1. That’s actually not a bad question for a lot of mainstream Republicans. Why no love for the chocolate Nixon?

      1. I do recall Chris Christie hugging Obama, and he is about as mainstream as the GOP gets. However, the correct answer is, the partisan Team Red guy is going to hate who Team Blue puts up, and at the same time vote for his guy, and the partisan Team Blue guy will hate who Team Red puts up and vote for whom the elites of his team selects in any given election. Race had nothing to do with why Team Red hated the previous Team Blue presidents anymore than their current offering. Did they love Bill Clinton any more for welfare reform and lowering capital gains? No, they hated him just as much. If anything, the non existent standards for entry Team Blue held Obama to, are the only racism I see here.

        1. Yeah, I ignored the race part. It is so goddamn stupid that I just automatically edit it out at this point.

    2. So wait, now obamanauts are championing his similarities to bush…wtf?

      1. I also read an article the other day about how Hillary is the ideal candidate to reform Washington BECAUSE she is so identified with the corrupt Washington establishment, and that she is the perfect candidate for left wingers dissatisfied with Obama because she’s OPENLY in the back pocket of Wall Street and has never claimed not to support NeoCon overseas adventurism.

      2. That thread is a treasure of butt nuggets. Here is one polished to a shine:

        ? 3 hours ago

        The religious based TEA PARTY needs to look in the mirror and ask these questions:

        Would Jesus spew hate and anger towards gays and lesbians?

        How many AR-15s would he own? Would he join the NRA?

        Would he advocate for voter suppression?

        Would he work for healthcare for all or just the rich and those who can afford it?

        Would he feed the poor children or will he cut WIC?

        Would he give the rich tax breaks while taking away food and shelter from those who need it?

        How many wars would he campaign for?

        Would he discriminate based on color and ethnicity?

        How many of the Right wing Christians would he call ? His followers?

        Would he be a TEA Party member?
        Would Rush Limbaugh be his disciple?
        Need to do some soul searching – Dittoheads.

        manny herrera TheRightLeft
        ? 3 hours ago

        Hey, at least they’re consistent at something. In this case, being on the wrong side of everything good.

        1. Well, Jesus did curse that fig tree for not giving him free figs, so apparently he is a Democrat.

  8. People always seem to forget that expensive infrastructure is expensive to maintain.

    1. The gift that keeps on giving.

    2. I remember about 10 years ago I had an argument with my friend about “free” electricity via wind/solar/whatever.

      It never occurred to him that wind turbines and solar panels require maintenance to function.

      1. Crazy expensive to build. Crazy expensive to maintain. But the wind and sun is free!

        1. But the wind and sun is free!

          Goddamnit Sarc, I almost write a mini-diatribe arguing against this based on the second law of thermodynamics.

          OT: Holy fuck I’m a nerd.

          1. Fucking nerds, always looking at shit rationally. What a bunch of assholes.

          2. Butterfly effect? I mean, if the flapping wings of a butterfly in Africa can cause a rain storm in Indonesia by adding energy to the atmosphere, what does the removal of energy from atmosphere with wind turbines cause? A drought in California?

            1. But Gaia wants us to have solar and turbines! Why would she hurt the ones who love her so?

            2. Shouldn’t the removal of energy via turbines counteract the accumulation of energy from potential intensification of the greenhouse effect?

              1. I don’t think thermal and kinetic energy are fungible.

                1. the sun’s thermal energy is converted to kinetic energy via convection, which drives the wind that turbines harvest to drive the conversion to electricity.

                  I can’t tell from the definition of fungible if that process can be defined as such, but I’m not sure if it’s relevant. Sarc was claiming that wind power would drain the atmosphere of the energy needed for water transport, but as long as windpower’s demand is less than the supply provided by the sun we probably don’t need to worry.

                  1. claim/suppose/hypothesizing, whichever verb best suits. not trying to misrepresent the post, just vocabularically lazy.

  9. Hundreds of Thousands Without Power After Northeast Snowstorm

    But, one of the Olympic rings didn’t illuminate in the Sochi opening ceremonies! USA! USA!

    1. Damn you!!!!

    2. Somebody is going to be getting intimate with a car battery tonight.

      1. They make vibrators that big?


      2. See, this is one way Russia is superior to the U.S. Politicians are held accountable. But you say, “No, that’s not true, what about Putin?” Ah, but Putin isn’t a politician, he is the symbol, nay, the essence of Russia.

        1. He won, fair and square. Russians are more interested in competence than taking a chance on someone for the sake of “change.” Zyuganov’s Communist Party has fewer registered members than the country has polling stations, the billionaire automaker guy wasn’t really serious (and they don’t like rich people any more than the Scots-Irish do), and Zhirinovsky has always been kind of a sideshow.

          1. Competence? That’s cute. Putin has just competently let his cronies steal $50 billion in connection with the Olympics.

            But Putin is indeed popular among Russians. Russians don’t care freedom. The Russian media is nothing but Putin’s propaganda department. And the standards of living have improved since 2000 due to high oil prices. But most importantly Russians are happy to be treated like serfs as long as the Tsar is good. Yep, I’m a russophobe, but I’m allowed to be since I’m Russian.

            1. don’t care about freedom

            2. Why doesn’t Putin establish a dynasty? I think he could.

              1. He has daughters only. The public has never seen their pictures. Well, maybe when they were little girls. According to rumors they are married to foreigners and live outside of Russia.

                1. There’s always adoption.

            3. I think we all know who I’m making comparisons to.

      3. “Endo here has forgotten more about dispensing pain than you or I will ever know.”

  10. Money Pours Into Sochi Detroit, and Life Gets Worse for the People Who Live There

    1. Maybe Sochi and Detroit could become “sister cities”?

  11. …”With all that money flowing around, you might assume life is improving for the people who live in the area.”…

    This story wrote itself; only a fool or an infant would believe the money ‘flowing around’ from a government project was going to do anything about the poverty in the area.
    I’m sure there were some jobs to be had, but this is RUSSIA for pete’s sake! What Chicago dreams of being!

  12. I don’t recall any Winter Olympic getting half as much coverage as Sochi. Why is this one so sexed up? Cultural wars, international tensions, terrorist threats looming in the background, toilets that might kill you. What’s so different about those factors than the last one held in Canada?

    1. It’s that scary alphabet they have over there

      A sign that says “We do not serve FBI and CIA agents,” hangs outside a restaurant on the opening day of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.


      1. That’s just too awesome.

      2. So that’s where Snowden is hanging out.

    2. toilets that might kill you.

      They’re used to that:

      (last verse)
      Morale song is not dead and vampires
      Not so dangerous to life as rotten toilets.
      So, the villagers, Mani, Vani, Sasha Petit,
      Place in your favorite rural toilet!


  13. Man, who ever would have guessed all that central planning would result in inequality. Must have been totally unforseen.

    1. No inequality, just a veneer of glitz and glamor over the generalized poverty.

  14. Turkish official: passenger with bomb claim tried to divert plane to Sochi as Olympics begin

    Wonder if it was a toothpaste bomb. The solution to this is so simple: Ban passengers


  15. I look to Hit & Run to use the headline “Sans Sochi” at least once.

    1. “Sans Sochi – New study indicates that Cyrillic is only compatible with serif fonts.”

      1. I actually meant in the posts, not the comments, but I welcome your contribution.

        “Sans Sochi: Olympics Continues Despite Sochi Being Revealed to be a Hollywood-Style Set.”

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