The pictures Putin doesn't want you to see - PHOTO+VIDEO

18:15 | 20.01.2014
Two journalists who spent five years documenting Sochi, Russia and the North Caucasus have been barred from attending this year's Olympic Games -- but not before releasing startling photos of the city.

Rob Hornstra's photographs, coupled with Arnold van Bruggen's writing, together form The Sochi Project.The project aims to show what ordinary life is like in the region. The Sochi Project was largely crowdfunded, according to its website, taking donations from more than 650 private donors btween 2009 and 2013.Sochi is considered 'the Florida of Russia, but cheaper,' according to van Bruggen -- and is a whopping 37 hours away from Moscow via train.Hornstra and van Bruggen's work was recently published in their new book 'The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus.'Photos in the project often capture poverty, lack of resources, and various types of political and ethnic strife. Startling images also capture strip club workers and children holding Kalashnikov weapons.Hornstra, in an interview with Dazed and Confused, said he and van Bruggen were arrested several times during their adventures covering the Northern Caucasus -- knowing the area is extremely dangerous and full of heated political activity. 'We started working there secretly in 2011, without publishing any stories,' he said. 'But in 2012 we went back and started really digging deep into some sensitive subjects, and – as predicted – we were arrested a couple of times. It culminated in July 2013 when the local authorities told me I couldn't enter Russia for the next five years.'Van Bruggen, speaking to DNA Info, even said 'There's a big chance terrorists will try to disturb these games.' As part of the project's writing, van Bruggen says the Winter Olympics are being built right next to a conflict zone, Abkhazia, and that human rights issues in the Northern Caucasus remain to be resolved. 'Stories abound of disappearances, murders by (local) security forces, torture, unfair trials, nepotism and corruption,' he writes.  'Entire villages in republics such as Chechnya have been rebuilt with money from the fines that Strasbourg has imposed on Moscow for these abuses.'Photographs from the project are currently on display at the DePaul Art Museum, DNA Info reports. The project was to be displayed in Moscow in October 2013, but the show was cancelled by Russian authorities. (

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