HRW: Russian village lost water, other services to Sochi construction

Dec. 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM   |   0 comments

SOCHI, Russia, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Construction for the 2014 Winter Olympics has disrupted the water supply and public transportation for a Russian village, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The Russian government has done "woefully little" to restore services to the village of Akhshtyr, where the water supply was disrupted five years ago, the New York rights group said in a statement.

In a video that purports to show upset village residents, HRW called on Russian officials to solve the problems created by construction of venues for the Games in Sochi and the surrounding area.

A 30-mile-long railway and road built to connect the venues cut through a dirt road used by villagers to catch buses to school and work, the organization said. While a pedestrian walkway was built under the railway, none was built for the highway. To reach other parts of Sochi, residents must now drive a mountainous road some say has added as much as two hours to their daily commute.

The village's water wells were destroyed in 2008 when a dirt road was paved to allow trucks access to quarries and a newly created construction dump site, HRW said. Authorities have since delivered water to residents by truck once a week or less. Villagers told HRW the amount of water delivered is not enough for household needs, especially when watering their gardens in the summer.

Authorities have repeatedly promised to fix the problems, the organization said. HRW has notified the International Olympic Committee of the problems at Akhshtyr since 2009, which said it shared the complaints with the Sochi organizing committee.

Jane Buchanan, HRW's associate director for Europe and Central Asia, called on the IOC "to send a clear signal to the Russian authorities that they should urgently solve key problems in Akhshtyr, and other human rights concerns in Sochi, as a condition of hosting a successful games."

"The Olympics cannot be a true celebration of human dignity and achievement when the preparations for the games have brought misery on residents," Buchanan added.

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