Georgian deputy PM defends protest of Sochi Games
The deputy premier of the former Soviet republic of Georgia supported plans Thursday to mount a campaign against the 2014 Winter Olympics in the nearby Russian city of Sochi.
Georgi Baramidze said he backs the initiative by Georgia's parliament because ''the Olympic movement is something different than what Russia demonstrates today.''
Baramidze, speaking after meeting Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in Prague, said Russia doesn't deserve to host the games because it occupies Georgia's territory, violates human rights and leads a war in North Caucasus.
''I don't think that the Olympic movement is something close to the killing of hundreds of thousand people in North Caucasus, in Chechnya and elsewhere, killing its own journalists, putting in prison businessmen just because they have different opinions, and I don't think it's a good idea to occupy a neighboring country's territory,'' said Baramidze, who is also Georgia's State Minister of Euro-Atlantic Integration.
Sochi is adjacent to Abkhazia, a region that broke free of Georgian control in the 2008 war with Russia that also split South Ossetia from Georgia.
Russian troops now have a strong presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognizes as independent countries.
''I don't think that the Olympic spirit is anyhow close to the idea of not respecting the international law, not respecting human rights,'' Baramidze said.
''Everyday, people are killed and raped on the ground, just a few kilometers from the place of Sochi,'' he added.
In a statement released this week, Georgia lawmakers said the Olympics in Sochi should not take place ''before the de-occupation of Georgia'' and that they should work to convince the IOC of ''the necessity of holding the 2014 Winter Olympics in a different country.''