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WWF Russia suggests to ignore sport events in Sochi

21 october 2015
WWF Russia urges sport community to ignore any international events at Roza Khutor and Laura resorts in Sochi because of severe environmental violation on the territory nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

WWF urges world sport community to refrain from supporting any events held in any of two ski resorts which were key hosts of the Olympics 2014: Roza Khutor (affiliated with V. Potanin) and Laura (affiliated with Gazprom). The reason for the appeal is Roza Khutor’s plan to expand four times in coming years exactly into the proposed and existing World Heritage Site. The Director General of Roza Khutor Sergey Bachin announced publicly this intention at the International Ski Federation autumn session in Zurich on 02 October 2015.  

Also conservation organization reminds that preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi raised tremendous environmental concerns both within and outside Russia. Particular tension was caused by initially proposed locations of some of the facilities – bobsleigh track, mountain Olympic village and biathlon stadium – because of the direct threat to the Caucasian biosphere reserve, the World Natural Heritage Site.

It required joint efforts of UNEP, IUCN, WWF and other organizations to convince International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to change the location. Following this positive step Russian Government committed to extend the World Heritage Site as part of the environmental compensation for the Olympic Games, and submitted an official nominationto the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which WWF strongly supports.

In the end of September WWF-Russia CEO Igor Chestin spoke during the Public Council of Ministry of natural resources, where he reminded about Russia’s obligations. As a result of that session, members of Public Council unanimously supported WWF’s proposition to hand Sochi federal refuge over to Caucasian biosphere reserve. However, this decision is still not executed.

Instead of strengthening the regime of territories designated for inclusion into the World Heritage Site, the Russian government has proposed to weaken the regime specifically to allow resort extension. This would mean complete non-compliance with commitments made as part of preparation to the Games by the Government.

WWF wants to emphasize that the intended development of the Sochi federal refuge’s territories puts the whole program of Persian leopard reintroduction in Caucasus at stake. That program is being implemented since 2007 involving Ministry of natural resources and other institutes and organizations, including WWF-Russia.

Leopards are still being seen on that area moving along the Caucasus mountain range – says Igor Chestin, WWF Russia CEO.  - Territory of the federal refuge was supposed to become a main passage for the leopards that are planned to be released into the wild in Caucasian biosphere reserve. If the plans on resort expansion will be carried outthe program of leopard reintroduction to Caucasus will lose its point.  Besides, an irreversible harm will be caused to the population of brown bear”.

It should be pointed out that ignoring environmentalist requests became a reason of practically full destruction of red-listed box tree by a box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis).   Several hundreds of hectares of this unique plant were lost.

In 2010 WWFRussia together with Greenpeace stepped out from the Public Council on preparation for the Winter Olympic. The reason for that was the fact that all decisions, carried out by the Council, were ignored by the organizers of the Olympics. As a result, an irreversible harm was brought to the region’s unique ecosystems.

More about Sochi mistakes: http://www.wwf.ru/about/positions/sochi2014/eng.

© Юлия Набережная/WWF России
For additional information please contact
Director of WWF-Russia