The Russian government is under heavy criticism for censoring and restricting media coverage ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

The New-York-based Committee to Protect Journalists released a report Tuesday about government censorship and the harassment of journalists covering sensitive stories in Sochi, such as environmental damage and the mistreatment of migrant workers.

But local media have either “ignored or have been pressured not to cover these subjects,” Ognianova told CTV’s Canada AM. “The Sochi Olympic city is painted to be this rosy picture where no damage, no issues have occurred.”

Ognianova says repression by authorities, from harassment in newsrooms to criminal prosecution, have deterred journalists from covering critical issues.

“Russian media are either pretty much externally censored not to cover these issues, or have decided to pull back and not cover them for fear of repercussions,” she said. 

Government censorship has only increased since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s third term in office, Ognianova said. “The media in Russia have been under a lot of censorship for the past decade, but in the past couple of years, the pressure has escalated,” she said.

Journalists and activists were detained and put on trial months ahead of the Winter Gamesthat get underway on Feb. 7. Svetlana Kravchenko, a prominent local journalist who covered environmental issues in Sochi, was tried and found guilty of physically abusing a security guard.

Local authorities, however, insist that criminal prosecution against journalists and members of the public is not political, but simply a matter of law enforcement.

With files from The Associated Press