In the mid-1800s, the indigenous people of Sochi were driven by the Russians out of their land. Many are returning home for the Olympics.
When the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia next month, there will likely be an opening ceremony celebrating Russian history. One horrific event probably won’t make it into the program.
In the mid-1800s, Czar Alexander II ordered the expulsion of the native Circassian people from the Black Sea region of Russia. The expulsion forced millions of Circassians onto overcrowded, undersupplied ships across the Black Sea, where somewhere between 600,000 and 1.5 million Circassians died. It has been called the Circassian diaspora, but many Circassians have called it a genocide, and it’s been referred to as the “forgotten genocide.”
Since Sochi was announced as the 2014 Olympic host city in 2007, Circassians have protested the upcoming games on the grounds that the genocide has received no recognition from the Russian government and the Olympic stadiums are being built on their ancestors’ graves. One hill being used for skiing and snowboarding events is called “Red Hill” because Russian troops massacred a group of Circassians on it.
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