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August 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

New York-based Human Rights Watch have accused authorities in Sochi, Russia of harassing and intimidating journalists who have written critical stories about preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in that city. During the run-up to the Games, which are scheduled to begin in February, authorities have even pursued criminal charges against one TV journalist working for the recently launched public TV station OTR, who had been investigating complaints of corruption and illegal activities by Sochi authorities in connection with the construction of Olympics venues and infrastructure. In a statement, Jane Buchanan, a Human Rights Watch director, said, “One of the non-negotiable requirements of hosting the Olympics is to allow press freedom, and the authorities’ attempts to silence critics are in clear violation of that principle.” She noted that the Olympic Charter states that “media coverage of the Olympic Games shall not be impaired in any way.” The HRW report comes at a time when members of the U.S. Congress are increasingly demanding that the U.S. boycott the games because of Russia’s aide to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, its recently enacted laws suppressing gay rights, and its decision to grant asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. But as Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, such a boycott would be a massive hit to NBC, which paid $775 million for broadcast rights to the Games.