Sochi seems a strange place to hold the Olympic games. First, it’s almost subtropical. To find snow, one must travel up to the Caucasus mountains.
The Black Sea resort is charming and exotic.
But Sochi is a beach resort. No one knows if there will be enough snow for the skiing and snowboarding events being held on the low mountains behind.
Let me stop here and say that I consider all Olympic games a titanic waste of money that leave behind white elephant buildings and debts that never get paid off. Bread and circuses. Russia is blowing over $3 billion on this extravaganza. The games are just a huge commercial jamboree with faux patriotic overtones.
Second, there is the big security scare facing Russia from violent militants in the North Caucasus. The US government, trying to rain on Vlad Putin’s parade, actually warned American visitors to take extreme caution or just not go to Sochi because of the dangers of “terrorism.”
Two US destroyers have been sent to the Black Sea to evacuate Americans. As if Russia, which defeated Nazi Germany and Japan’s China armies, could not handle handful of attackers.
Sour grapes. Going to a sports game in any large US city is much more dangerous than Sochi, which has been turned into a fortress. Give me Sochi over Detroit or Houston any day.
Western audiences are warned that “terrorism” stalks the North Caucasus without being told why. It’s the same story as so-called terrorism in the Mideast. The crime is trumpeted; its causes obscured.
In my book, “American Raj,” I wrote of the 300- year struggle of the Caucasian tribes against Russian occupation, notably Chechen and Dagestanis. The chapter was entitled, “Genocide in the Caucasus.”
The Sochi games are being held in close to where Soviet leader Josef Stalin had 2.5 million Caucasian and Crimean Muslims murdered or deported. This terrible crime still haunts the region.
In 1877, Imperial Russia killed 40% of the Chechen population, then about 220,000 people. The Russians expelled 400,000 Cherkass (Circassians), most to the Ottoman Empire.
In 1937, Stalin, surnamed the “Breaker of Nations,” ordered his NKVD secret police to shoot 14,000 Chechen. Stalin, a Georgian, hated the neighboring Chechen.
Seven years later, Stalin had the entire Chechen nation rounded up, stuffed into unheated rail cars in the dead of winter and then dumped onto the frozen wastes of Kazakhstan. Half died of exposure or disease.
Other Muslim peoples followed into the gulag: Tatars from Crimea, Ingush, Karachai, Balkars, Uzbeks, Tajiks., and Dagestanis. After the war, the battered survivors of this genocide filtered back to their homes, only to find that they had been seized by non-Muslims.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Chechen demanded independence from Moscow – just like Ukraine, the Baltic and Central Asian states. Russia’s new leader, Boris Yeltsin, refused and sent in his army to crush the Chechen. Russia’s shelling and bombing of tiny Chechnya killed an estimated 100,000 civilians. Amazingly, the invading Russian army was defeated and driven out by Chechen fighters.
Dzhokar Dudayev, the moderate Chechen leader, was assassinated in April, 2006 by the Russian FSB thanks to technology reportedly supplied by the US National Security Agency. All the moderate Chechen leaders were assassinated, leaving only a handful of extreme militants. The US largely financed Yeltsin’s war.
One of the young Chechen who bombed the Boston Marathon in April, 2013 was named Dzhokar. Just a coincidence?
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new leader, launched a second invasion of Chechnya and crushed its resistance fighters, who were successfully branded “terrorists” by the US and Russian media. Attacks by Chechen vengeance-seekers on Russian aircraft, a train, and a Moscow theater seemed to confirm the Chechen simply as terrorists. An attack on a school at Beslan that still remains mysterious, delegitimized the Chechen cause.
From 1991 to 2010, 25% of Chechnya’s people, Chechen and Russian, died in the savage repression. Today, a puppet regime of Chechen quislings rules Chechnya for Moscow.
Resistance against Russian rule still sputters on in the forests of Chechnya, neighboring Ingushetia, and Dagestan. Chechen leader Doku Umarov warns Moscow, “you will feel what we feel.”
Russia’s repression in the Caucasus and those seeking vengeance will haunt the Sochi games.