Russia supports Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime in Syria, and members of its Olympic Committee are profiting from it.
This post originally appeared on OpEdNews.
Typically, the Olympic Games are an opportunity for the international community to come together by promoting peace and preserving human dignity through sport. But this year’s Games run the risk of being tarnished by a Russian Olympic official who has been enabling the Syrian regime.
Russia’s richest man, a steel tycoon named Vladimir Lisin, has been helping supply Russian-made arms to the Syrian government responsible for slaughtering thousands of its own people. According to news reports, just one day after the Houla massacre, one of Lisin’s ships reached Syria’s second largest port to offload an alleged shipment of weapons from St. Petersburg.
The Russian government has rewarded Lisin’s loyalty with a top position on their Olympic Committee. And as the families in Syria continue to live in terror amid falling bombs and sniper fire, Lisin is traveling to London to participate in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
Over 19,000 people have been killed in Syria and the violence intensifies every day. A protracted civil war in Syria now seems inevitable, which will undoubtedly lead to the loss of many more civilian lives. In fact, the situation in Syria is now officially being called a civil war by the International Red Cross.
Yet, Russia continues to support Assad’s murderous regime — recently vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution that would support negotiations — and people like Lisin are profiting from it.
The multi-billion dollar arms trade between Russia and Syria has been well exposed in recent months. In 2011, the Russian government provided over $1 billion in weapons to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and over recent weeks attempted to ship attack helicopters and munitions to the Syrian military.
The profits that Lisin has made are now tarnishing Russia’s gold at the Olympics. The oligarch is offering $1 million as reward to every Russian athlete who wins gold at the 2012 games. While the aim of prize money is to inspire gold medal success, it will leave those achievements with a bloody tarnish.
Keeping Lisin from attending the games will add to the much-needed international pressure against Russia and the arms dealers enabling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We must insist that those who enable Syria’s continued attacks on its own men, women and children pay a price.
It should be made clear to the London Organizing Committee: There is no room at this year’s Games for individuals who enable mass atrocities for their own financial gain.
Together we will stop the deadly flow of arms into Syria by exposing unscrupulous weapons dealers like Vladimir Lisin.
We will never sell, rent or share your personal information with a 3rd party, especially your email addresses and phone numbers, unless required by law. Never ever! Because we hate spam just as much as you do.
How do we use the information you provide?
Save Darfur uses the information we collect from you in an effort to engage you as an online activist. We will use your email address to send you periodic updates, actions you can take and for contributions. An option to unsubscribe will be in every email we send. While we won't get tired of watching Bashir, we respect your right to take a break.
Information on children’s privacy.
We believe every precaution must be taken to protect children online. Save Darfur does not knowingly ask children 13 and under for any information. Visitors who are 13 or under should ask a parent or legal guardian for assistance when using Save Darfur and should not submit any personally identifiable information.
Links to other web sites.