Russian Official Claims Video Surveillance Is in Sochi Olympics Bathrooms

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, two female toilets sit side-by-side at the security screening facility outside the Main Press Center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia. Side-by-side toilets in a single bathroom caused a social media sensation last month when they were discovered at the biathlon course of the Sochi Olympics, swiftly becoming a national joke in Russia. The Sochi organizing committee initially denied knowledge of the second twin toilet, and it has not been able to say whether the loo-loo was built by design or resulted from an error during the plumbing process. (AP Photo)
Uncredited/Associated Press

There have been many reports about issues with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. From lack of doorknobs to poor quality of water, some people are unhappy with their experience. However, the host nation doesn't buy into all of those complaints.

In fact, Russian officials believe that they are being treated unfairly. Paul Sonne, Gregory L. White and Joshua Robinson of The Wall Street Journal reported some interesting information:

Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations, reflected the view held among many Russian officials that some Western visitors are deliberately trying to sabotage Sochi's big debut out of bias against Russia. "We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day," he said. An aide then pulled a reporter away before Mr. Kozak could be questioned further on surveillance in hotel rooms. "We're doing a tour of the media center," the aide said.

Surveillance video in bathrooms? That's sure to lead to more complaints.

UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 6 at 3:40 p.m. ET

John Schindler gave a tip on how to figure out what Russia is doing: 

A Russian spokesman tried to reassure everyone that there is not video surveillance of bathrooms. The Associated Press, via the Sporting News' Chris Littmann, has the update:

His spokesman, Ilya Dzhus, said Thursday that "no such thing was ever said." He called the report a fantasy, a joke, or a mistranslation. Hotels have video surveillance of entrances for security purposes, he said, and some rooms had video surveillance during construction.

"But never the bathrooms," Dzhus insisted. "You can check yourself."

---End of Update---

While having surveillance video could help prove that reported problems are being overblown, that opens up different conversations about, among other things, invasion of privacy. Kozak was fortunate enough that an aide was there to put an end to that line of questioning.

"We've put 100,000 guests in rooms and only gotten 103 registered complaints and every one of those is being taken care of," Kozak said.

The Olympics are underway, so all of the complaints will likely take a backseat to the competitions.  

[H/t Gawker via Deadspin]


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