IOC pushes for Russian investigation of Sochi
CHAD WISE / Sports Features Communications
(SFC) Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday the International Olympic Committee has urged the Russian government to look into claims of nonpayment of wages to builders of the Olympic venues and infrastructure.
The Migration and Law Network, run by the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, said around 700 workers had complained they had not been paid in wage arrears. Most had previously complained to the Migration and Law Network and Human Rights Watch, who filed a report to the International Olympic Committee in October of last year.
“The exploitation of migrant workers casts a shadow on the Sochi Games’ glittering façade,” Human Rights Watch Associate Europe and Central Asia Director Jane Buchanan said. “We’re glad the IOC has pressed the Russian government to finally take action, but we’re still concerned about the workers who weren’t paid.”
An IOC letter to Human Rights Watch 9 Feb. said the Russian government had begun its investigation and responded to Human Rights Watch’s worries for the village of Akhshtyr. Several dozen residents of the small village had their homes made uninhabitable by Olympic preparations in Sochi. Akshtyr has not had running water for the past five years.
Human Rights Watch published a report in early 2009 with the patterns of abuse across many major Olympic sites, including Fisht Stadium, the Main Media Center, accommodations for journalists and the Olympic Village. Some of the abuse included overcrowded employer-provided housing and inadequate employer-provider meals, illegal withholding of passports, and nonpayment of wages, though the IOC claimed the report was not adequately detailed for Russian authorities to find cause for investigation.
“It was clear as early as 2009 that the Russian authorities weren’t honouring all of their responsibilities to workers in Sochi,” Buchanan said. “The IOC should have consistently reminded them, starting five years ago, of their obligations as Olympics host and pressed for concrete actions.”
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