Sochi workers faced abuses while preparing the city for Olympic Games

Several controversies surround the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia including discrimination against gays, threats of terrorism, corruption and abuses of workers.
Posted By Aileen Graef   |   Jan. 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM   |   Comments

SOCHI, Russia, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The people who worked to prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were subjected to beatings, intimidation, unsafe labor practices and little pay.

Moderas Durmachan, a construction worker on the Sochi Olympics, complained to his supervisor about their long hours and lack of pay and said the Sochi police, "beat me unconscious."

"They took away my trousers and raped me with an iron bar. Told me to confess," he said. After beating him, the police told him to drop his claims of back pay and his boss would get him out of jail.

Human Rights Watch has interviewed several Olympic workers and the stories of these abuses are typical. There are an estimated 95,000 workers preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Despite the almost $50 billion spent on the project, wages haven't been paid or have been significantly delayed. In addition to lack of pay, workers complain of overcrowded conditions, no water and long work hours.

When workers protested the conditions, they were punished and many migrant workers had to leave Russia without being paid. A few weeks ago, with construction almost complete, Russian officials acknowledged the requests from Human Rights Watch to address the problems and said all workers will be paid, but for the migrant workers who have already left Russia, it is too late.

The 2014 Winter Olympics begin on Feb. 7 and run until Feb. 23.

[Time Magazine]

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