The Sochi Olympics
The 2014 Winter Olympics, scheduled to open in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 7, are critical for Russia and President Vladimir Putin, who hopes that the Games will serve as proof of his successful stewardship of post-Soviet Russia after the political and economic chaos of the 1990s. Yet more so than any Olympic Games in recent memory, the Sochi Olympics pose a set of risks and challenges for the host country (and possibly athletes and spectators at the Games) that threaten to mar the Games themselves. Sochi lies near the turbulent North Caucasus, whose Islamist militants have threatened to disrupt the Games. With Sochi lying just across the border from Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia, the choice of Sochi as the host city could also inflame tensions across the broader Caucasus region. Other issues, including possible protests over Russia’s human rights record, pervasive corruption associated with the Games, and environmental damage, present significant challenges to the success of Putin’s Olympics.
For the Games to be a success, the Russian government must deftly manage these various challenges and cooperate with others, including the United States, to ameliorate the significant security risks and ensure the safety of athletes and spectators.
The CSIS Russia and Eurasia program is hosting a panel of experts on Russia, radical Islam in the North Caucasus, the Caucasus region, and counterterrorism who will discuss the risks and challenges facing the Sochi Olympics.
The Russia and Eurasia Program is also pleased to announce the publication of a new report, “The 2014 Sochi Olympics: A Patchwork of Challenges.” Authored by Visiting Fellow Sergey Markedonov, this report examines the threats and challenges facing the Games, along with the Russian security response.