Society

Sochi, Russia Rounding Up, Killing Dogs Before Olympics

| by Michael Allen

When Russia was granted the rights to the 2014 Winter Olympic games there was no mention of rounding up thousands of stray dogs and killing them in Sochi.

However, that's exactly what's happening.

Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, told the Associated Press that the dogs are “biological trash.”

Sorokin says some of the dogs are “biting children,” but seems much more concerned about how the pooches might tarnish Sochi's reputation, which includes arresting gay people.

Sorokin claims that during a rehearsal of the Olympic opening ceremony last week a stray dog walked into the Olympic Park.

“A dog ran into the Fisht Stadium, we took it away,” stated Sorokin. “God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country.”

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Sorokin told USA Today: “Imagine, if during an Olympic games, a ski jumper landed at 130 kilometres an hour [over 80 mph] and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both a jumper and for the stray dog.”

Sorokin wouldn't say how many dogs his company was going to kill or how because it was “a commercial secret.”

However, local authorities said they would kill 2,000 of Sochi’s stray dogs and cats in April of 2013, but walked back that threat after international outrage.

The Independent notes that stray animals in Sochi are "abused and even poisoned, stabbed or beaten to death by so-called dog hunters. Vigilante groups have sprung up in several Russian cities, using poison-laced meat, guns and other weapons to kill strays."

Not surprisingly, pets of residents are sometimes killed by mistake by the bounty hunters.

Animals are not the only ones being rounded up.

Geologist and activist Yevgeny Vitishko, of the group Environmental Watch on the Northern Caucasus (EWNC), was arrested today in Tuapse, near Sochi, for allegedly swearing in public, reports AFP.

Vitishko has been an outspoken critic of the environmental damage caused in Sochi by the Olympic Games.

“By trying to lock him up as a ‘petty hooligan’ the authorities are trying to gag him,” Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia deputy director Denis Krivosheev said in a statement.

Sources: Associated Press, USA Today, The Independent, AFP