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Article, Corporate Cultural Diplomacy

The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi: would they be possible without the contribution of foreign workers?

By Vladislav Strnad, The Institute of Cultural Diplomacy

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The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will be held from February 7th – 23th, 2014. Two and a half years before their launch, The Sochi Winter Olympics broke records in terms of revenue from sponsors; which exceeded $ 1.2 billion. The preparation of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi has involved extremely high costs, which go several times above the expenditure of what is so far the most expensive Winter Olympics since Vancouver and is getting increasingly closer to the most expensive Olympic Games ever; the summer games in Peking. According to various media sources, the Russian State budget will be investing more than $ 33 billion into the 2014 games. (1)
Sergei Lisowski, Member of the Federation Council, has prepared a draft bill which, should it be passed, states that only citizens of the Russian Federation are able to work at major international events held in Russia. The bill introduces changes to the Article 13 of the Federal Law No.115 “The legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation”, which regulates the conditions of foreigner employment in the territory of the Russian Federation. This bill also changes the Federal Law No. 310 “On organizating and holding of the 22th Olympic Winter Games and 11th Paralympic Games in 2014.” At the same time, the author of the document offered to make an exception for visiting artists and directors.

Whether the senator has submitted his proposal to the Duma or not is not yet confirmed. The senator has only said that his initiative stems from a desire to preserve jobs of fellow countrymen.

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The idea behind the bill was born after the senator learned that during the Games in Sochi one Greek promotion company was planning to employ only Greek employees. The Senator was outraged that people from outside the Russian Federatin would be able to profit from an event which is almost entirely funded by the investment of Russian money. “When a foreign company with its employees makes money at an event in which the state has invested so much, it is firstly unpatriotic, and secondly, economically disadvantageous for the country. We are investing into an event from which everyone will make profit, everyone except us,” said the senator.(2)

The bill was initiated by several factors: a loss of jobs, a loss of professional qualifications of Russian specialists and losses for the national economy because of the potential revenue from taxes and fees is going abroad. According to Lisowski, we must also not forget the threat to national security due to it being nearly impossible to check the tens of tons of equipment brought into the country.(3)

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According to Lisowski, it is general practice for the government to block a certain number of jobs for foreign workers in the implementation of such major international events as the Olympic Games or the World Cup, because these places are reserved for their own citizens. “We do not have such a practice, and the time to change the current policy has come. We have talked with the Duma Committee on Culture and the Committee for Labor and Social Policy, and they have supported me,” says the senator.(4)

Ministry of Sport RF explained that solving this issue is not within its power and that the employment problem for Russians in Sochi is not considered high priority. The Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games in Sochi has not deemed the senator’s initiative as essential; however, the State Duma State Committee for Labor and Social Policy intends to support the proposal.

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The Vice-Chairman of the Committee for Labor and Social Affairs in Duma, Nikolai Kolomeytsev, is in strong agreement of the urgency of this proposal. “I have not read the bill yet and do not know the details, but generally it is absolutely true. Russia invests colossal amounts of assets into these mass events. Why is it so that foreigners gain from these events?” he said. (5)
A member of Duma’s Committee on Labour and Social Policy, Senator Valery Trapeznikov also supported the initiative, “Support of local experts is what we need.”(6)

Professor of Labor Law at Moscow State University, Irina Kostjan, warns that, “if changes in legislation were focused only on solving the issues of the Olympic Games, they may be considered as illegal and discriminatory measures.” (7)

Politician of the Opposition, Boris Nemtsov, commented that the initiative was ridiculous. He said that at the Sochi construction site where there are 70,000 employees working, half of them are Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Belarussians. According to Nemtsov, if these workers were dismissed, it would not be physically possible to build the Olympic Stadiums in time.(8)

According to, Victor Pryadein, Vice President of the “Olimpstroya”, 23 international design and engineering companies participated in just the design of the Olympic facilities. Experts say that without contribution from workers from outside the Russian Federation, including those from the former Soviet Union countries carrying out unskilled manual labor, it would be extremely difficult to organize and execute such a big event.(9)


(1) http://www.olympijske-hry-sochi-2014.cz/clanky/28-v-sochi-se-chysta-nejdrazsi-zimni-olympiada
(2) http://izvestia.ru/news/553430
(3) http://www.aif.ru/money/article/65010
(4) http://nsn.fm/2013/07/15/sergej-lisovskij-nel-zya-otdavat-olimpiadu-v-sochi-na-otkup-zarubezhny-m-spetsialistam/
(5) http://www.firstnews.ru/articles/inostrantsam-ne-dadut-zarabotat-na-olimpiade-v-sochi/
(6) http://izvestia.ru/news/553430
(7) http://izvestia.ru/news/553430
(8) http://argumenti.ru/society/2013/07/267961
(9) http://lenta.ru/news/2013/07/11/local/

Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy


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