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Photography

Market forces: portrait of the migrant workers who, out of sight and underpaid, have built the Games

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    Worker outside temporary accommodation in Sochi

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    The Fisht Olympic Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held

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    The workers have finished work and are leaving the carefully guarded checkpoint of the Olympic Park late in the evening. Rusty Icarus and Gazelle buses come to pick them up and drop them at their hostels, which are often outside the city. They live in small rooms with up to three other people. The electricity is often turned off and there are frequent problems with the water supply

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    Shakhbaz, a tiler, has come from his village in southern Dagestan. He has been working at the Olympic Park for nine months already. He says that he is badly paid — less than $300 a month — and his payment is often late

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    Shakhbaz with Shamil and Elchin, all from Dagestan. They are planning on going home as soon as construction is completed. They are afraid to stay in Sochi in case they end up in a police round-up

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    Worker at the Olympic Park

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    The workers have finished for the day and are leaving the carefully guarded checkpoint of the Olympic Park late in the evening

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    Workers leaving the Olympic Park

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    Ruslan Magomedov and his team have been renovating the Izvestiya sanatorium, which will house staff working at the Games as well as police and volunteers. They say they are still owed substantial money for their work

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    Road junctions and the area around the Olympic Park. More than 100km of new roads have been built for the Sochi games

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    Ali Elisayev, a foreman from Chechnya, has been working in Sochi since May 2012 on a media hotel for journalists. Labour and payment were organised on an ad hoc basis without contracts and his whole team was sacked while they were still owed 620,000 roubles. He has now left the Olympic Park and is helping to build private homes

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    Workers cross the railtracks next to the shiny new station in Adler. No one has talked to them about on site safety measures. Nevertheless, the workers say they don’t remember any tragic incidents and thank God for being merciful

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    Workers tending to palm tree-lined avenues in Sochi

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    Views of the Olympic Park, the construction of a leisure park and the future Formula 1 track

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It’s taken tens of thousands of migrant workers from across Russia, eastern Europe and central Asia to transform the resort town of Sochi into a venue fit for the Winter Olympics. Yet very little of the $50bn splurged on the event has trickled down to those working long hours to ensure the Olympic sites are built on time. Human Rights Watch has reported on their widespread exploitation, including lack of pay, cramped housing conditions, and, more recently, hurried deportations. Photographer Max Avdeev travelled to Sochi in December to meet the workers who built the Games.

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