President Putin has been criticised for the construction of ski resorts and infrastructure for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games that campaigners say have devastated the Caucasus Nature Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Activists from the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC) say that the massive amount of work that is being done in preparation to the Games is causing acres of the protected Sochi Natural Park to be destroyed.
Russian energy firm Gazprom, defined by EWNC activist Dmitry Shevchenko as “The champion of the destruction of Russian wildlife”, is building a ski resort in the reserve named silver fir glades. The construction of another resort, called Moonglade and fears about possible waste dumping have also been criticised by campaigners.
Opposition by activists and residents to the significant developments in the area has provoked a reaction from the government. EWNC has said on Twitter that the police have searched its offices and the home of some activists.
In addition, the organisation has revealed that Vladimir Putin has signed a decree which makes the area of the Olympic Games prohibited to the public for one month before and after the Games.
“The Olympic adventure in Sochi comes to its climax. For seven years, during the preparations for the Games, systematically violating the law and the rights of citizens, Sochi has suffered irreparable environmental damage”, the coordinator of the Environmental Watch Andrew Rudomakha commented.