The Sochi Olympics has a true hero and surprisingly, Oleg Deripaska is not an athlete. Perhaps the most heartbreaking part about the 2014 Olympics for both animal activists and dog lovers around the world has been the treatment of stray dogs who roam the streets of Sochi. Fortunately, Mr. Deripaska has become the dog rescuer.
A company called Basya Services was contracted with the task of exterminating the stray dogs who were roaming the area. According to the authorities, the dogs posed a threat as one had already interfered with a rehearsal run during the Olympic ceremony and others had bitten children. Alexei Sorokin, the director general of Basya Services referred to the strays as “biological trash” and accordingly, commented that Sochi had a “rabies” problem. Although the measures were reactionary, they were also meant to be preventative as Sorokin claims the dogs could interfere with the athletes and pose a risk to both the competitors and themselves. The company was tasked with killing 2,000 stray dogs, something they intended to do by the use of poison and baited traps.
Activists had previously believed Sochi to have abandoned their plans to kill the stray dogs after widespread protests took place last year and were distraught to hear that this simply was not true. Fortunately, Oleg Deripaska who is both one of the richest men in Russia and a true dog loving hero, stepped in to do his part and rescue the strays of the winter Olympics. Mr. Deripaska funded a dog shelter above Sochi in the hills. Because of Deripaska, a team of welfare workers were able to rescue over 140 of the animals to date.
In the video below this post, there is footage of the rescued dogs where they can be observed living in a place where they are being fed and given shelter. One shelter worker comments that her sister is refusing to watch the 2014 Olympics after witnessing piles of dog and cat bodies. Another representative from the shelter explains how administration from the city of Sochi as well as animal rights activists were unable to address this problem because of financial and physical restraints, coupled with the trouble of managing such a large number of animals. Another issue was simply that the problem had not been solved before so nobody knew how to solve it this time. They eventually decided that killing the stray animals was essentially the most convenient solution.
The Sochi Olympics have been riddled with an allurement of unusual circumstances, documented by visitors who have been tweeting pictures of hotel accommodations from the moments they arrived. Pictures of bees in servings of honey, brown tap water and midnight room intrusions are just among some of the eyebrow-raising events that have taken place. Packs of stray dogs were hardly among the least unusual sights in the city.
As for Oleg Deripaska, the dog rescuer and Russian billionaire, he is and has been more than a true hero to just the local stray dog population of Sochi. He has also played a lead role in making the Olympics possible at all. The tycoon has already invested $1.38 billion into Sochi, helped build the Olympic village and redid the airport. Saving stray dogs is just the latest among Deripaska’s list of heroic duties.
By Jonathan Holowka