File - Gazaryan, who fled after being prosecuted for his activism, points out a mudslide from an illegal dump near Sochi in April 2011.
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Just outside the Olympic Park in Sochi, where the Winter Games open Friday, is a green space with benches, artificial ponds and a couple of hides.A year ago, Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the organizing committee for Russia's Winter Olympics, made a proud boast that the games would be "green" and even improve Sochi's environment.Olympstroi, the state corporation overseeing the Olympic construction program, acknowledges that the work has affected a massive area of Sochi National Park – 3,500 hectares in all – but insists that every effort has been made to avoid damage to the environment.Gleb Vatletsov, head of the company's environmental department, said some proposed venues were ruled out, and some rare species were moved away from certain ski sites. In addition to setting up the Ornithological Park, Olympic contractors planted 1.5 million new trees – three for every one that was cut down in the Sochi National Park to make way for Olympic sites. Geologist Yevgeny Vitishko, another activist with Environmental Watch, said the rugged topography of the area had required a system of tunnels and bridges for the road and rail network.
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