The environment for independent and critical voices in Sochi is stifling. Activists and residents, who protest peacefully or speak openly about Olympics-related concerns such as the process of property expropriation and environmental issues, risk attacks, threats, and intimidation by the authorities. Despite the requirement for all Olympic hosts to guarantee full press freedom, local journalists face interference in their attempts to report abuses linked to the Olympics. Most stories regarding corruption, environmental concerns, or other public interest concerns do not get reported locally. Citizen-run web sites and blogs have attempted to fill the gap, but have come under “denial of service” attacks in recent years to make them inaccessible, sometimes for days at a time.
In 2012, the Russian federal authorities adopted a series of draconian measures that increasingly restrict freedom of expression and association. Such measures include laws imposing new restrictions on public assemblies, re-criminalized libel, and imposed new restrictions on internet content.
“The pressure on journalists in Sochi is unprecedented.… I was not allowed to report on Olympic–related housing problems or do stories about people who had problems with resettlement because of the Olympics.”
— Olga Loginova, journalist