The Estonian Farmer of Krasnaya Polyana
Although most are aware of the complex demographics in the region around Sochi, fewer may know that the ski events are taking place in areas settled by Estonians who emigrated to the Caucasus in the 19th century. The evening paper Õhtuleht visited with one local leader.
The dynamic chairman of the Estosadok Society, 62-year-old Valter German, "lives so close to the ski jump that if Estonian Nordic skiers Kaarel Nurmsalu and Siim-Tanel Sammelselg have a particularly good day they will land practically in his backyard," where he raises goats and chickens, the paper said.
On a recent visit, the hills were invitingly snow-clad, the sun was shining and it was 8 C. "Estonians who moved here found themselves in paradise," German said.
In 1883, 36 Estonian families arrived in Krasnaya Polyana, which is today widely known as the site of many of the Winter Olympics ski events. An Estonian village, also called Estosadok, sprang up in areas that just a few decades before had been home to indigenous Caucasian peoples. But they were displaced and deported in the mid-century Russian wars.
"Only one Estonian left Estosadok in the Soviet era," he said, touting the idyllic charms of the village of 400.
How does German feel about this year's Olympics, with its reputation for excess and corruption? German says he has mixed feelings but that lately there have been more positive aspects.
"It was a difficult time for us when the Olympic facilities were being built. Lots of trucks and noise and pollution. But we were told to stick it out. The most important thing about it is that they built decent roads. It would never have been finished in 50 years if it hadn't been for the Olympics," said German, calling himself a "glass half-full kind of guy."