Sunday, February 09, 2014

Politicizing Sochi Olympics With Retaliatory Attacks

Obama's CIA meddling also clouds games

By Dallas Darling

In 1984, Muslims, Serbs, and Croats had combined efforts to produce a well-organized and spectacular Olympic Games in the beautiful and historical city of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. But several years later, and as the dissolution of Yugoslavia spiraled out of control, ethnic groups fought each other over land, resources, sacred sites, governance, and their cultural and historical identities. The beautiful city that had been host to the Winter Olympics was destroyed, the bodies of thousands of its people buried in coffins made of wood torn from former Olympic sports buildings.(1) The city of Sarajevo and the region also became synonymous with ethnic cleansing.

Graveyard at 1984 Olympic Sports Complex in Sarajevo
Today the Olympic stage in Sochi is not only set for the best winter athletes from around the world, but as millions watch the Winter Games it might also be the most dramatic scene for spectacular and retaliatory attacks from Chechnya, one of Russia's breakaway regions located in the Caucasus Mountains. But this is to be expected when semi-collapsing empires attempt to reverse revolutionary and popular movements longing for the most basic needs of humanity: dignity, freedom, and justice.

It is also a sign of when an uncompromising choice exists between either supporting an empire and becoming its victims of aggression, or becoming aggressive victims by backing rebel groups.

The deadly suicide bombings that occurred in Volgograd, Russia, including Chechnya's proximity to Sochi and a call by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov for his fellow Chechens to use "maximum force" to disrupt the Winter Games, could undoubtedly turn into another ghastly replica of what happened in Sarajevo and the Balkans. More killing followed through the 1990's, as Serbs battled against the Croats, Bosnians, and Albanian Muslims from Kosovo-who were trying to establish their own parliament in the midst of a Greater Serbia. It is estimated that 300,000 people were eventually displaced. Croat civilians remaining under Serb control were subjected to looting, rape, and murder.

Srebrenica massacre
In 1995, Srebrenica, an obscure town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, became the site of the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II. Due to its large concentration of Muslims, the United Nations declared the enclave of Srebrenica a safe haven, guarded by a peacekeeping force.

When confronted by Bosnian Serb forces, the UN contingent withdrew. As many as 7,800 Muslim men and boys were massacred.(2) Three more years of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo left behind 10,000 identified victims. Only with the intervention of NATO forces did 750,000 refugees return. Muslim mothers told of Serbian soldiers killing and slitting the throats of their babies and children.(3)

In the chaos surrounding the break-up of the Soviet Union and much like Albania, Chechnya and its predominantly Muslim majority also declared their independence. While Chechens remember what happened in Sarajevo, Srebrenica, and Kosovo, they specifically recall what happened in their own beloved Chechnya. Upon returning to one village after Russian forces occupied it and then left, a mother remembers how hundreds of Chechens laid in the rubble, many of them either shot to death or carbonized. Desperately looking for a scar on a skull that would mark her son, she looked at them all, then yelled, crying, "You aren't my son, you are all my sons!"(4)

First Chechen War
Despite several wars and decades of Russian military occupations, the Chechen republic, this isthmus between the Black and Caspian Seas in the northern Caucasus, remains fiercely independent. It is extremely unkind to foreign conquerors, especially those that shell and utterly destroy its capital, Grozny.

It resents those who try and resurrect ancient empires. Chechen separatists still dream of independence, even if it means staging retaliatory attacks during the Olympic Games in Sochi to gain the World's attention. And just because many perceive this present age to be post-Cold War, doesn't mean that there are no longer Sarajevos, Srebrenicas, or even Afghanistans.

Since the world is already contaminated, politicizing the Olympics through retaliatory attacks is merely a reminder of the ongoing injustices that subjugated peoples are enduring. It is a sign that there are still oppressed nations trying to breathe the air of freedom, dignity, and justice. Whether Greek city-states or more modern nation-states and superpowers, the Games have been a means of purging warring emotions through combat sports while publicizing the confrontations between Olympian and more local gods. Sometimes, and tragically speaking, Mars, the God of War, is victorious.

"Olympia is to other games," wrote Pindar (518-438 BCE), "as the sun is to the stars; there is no more glorious place of festival than Olympia."(5) Neither is there no more glorious place for oppressed peoples to protest their sufferings, thereby gaining the World's attention. Nor is there a more glorious festival than the Olympia for smaller states to make dramatic statements in the name of independence. Like the Balkans, the Caucasus is a fragile region with many religious and ethnic identities. It could soon become another part of the world filled with ethnic cleansing. Shouldn't those directing, participating in, and attending the Winter Games in Sochi at least consider this?

Dallas Darling (

Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas' writings at and


(1) Christensen, Levinson. Encyclopedia of World Sport. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996., p. 283.

(2) Horvitz, Leslie Alan and Christopher Catherwood. Encyclopedia Of War Crimes And Genocide. New York, New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006., p.

(3) Bonneville, Patrick. Wall Of Shame. Quebec, Canada: Patrick Bonneville Society, 2010., p. 87.

(4) Yann, Bertrand-Arthus. 6 Billion Others. New York, New York: Abrams Publishers, 2009., p. 143.

(5) Christensen, Levinson. Encyclopedia of World Sport., p. 273.

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