August 15, 2008 / 1:22 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. lawmakers urge IOC to move '14 games from Russia

<p>A Russian woman is seen just before Sochi is chosen as the 2014 Winter Olympics host city during the 119th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the main square of Russian southern Black Sea resort city of Sochi, July 5, 2007.Denis Sinyakov</p>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress could consider legislation next month aimed at prodding Olympic organizers to strip Russia from hosting the 2014 winter games, in a move to punish Moscow for its military activity in Georgia, sponsors of the measure said.

The nonbinding resolution would call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2014 winter games from Sochi, Russia, to another country.

"We stand by Georgia, our friend and ally, and call on the IOC to designate a new venue for the Russian Olympics," Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said in a statement on Thursday.

She said she is offering the legislation with Republican Rep. Bill Shuster, also of Pennsylvania.

The crisis in Georgia was discussed in a conference call among House of Representatives Democratic leaders held on Wednesday, according to an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The aide did not comment on details, but Congress could begin considering the Olympics-related legislation when it returns in early September from a five-week break.

Last week, Russia attacked Georgia after Tbilisi sent its troops into South Ossetia to try to regain control over the province, which split away from Georgia in a war in the 1990s. Moscow backs the separatists in South Ossetia.

Russia's actions continued to draw criticism from western governments. U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday warned Russia that "bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russian troops to withdraw from central areas in Georgia and said "some of Russia's actions were not proportionate."

Saying it was "unacceptable" for Russia to host the games because of its actions in Georgia, Schwartz added, "Sochi, a mere 20 miles from the current conflict zone makes it a practically unacceptable location for the Olympics."

The military conflict in Georgia erupted just as the 2008 Olympic summer games were getting underway in Beijing, which also has come under fire internationally amid accusations of its government's human rights violations.

Editing by Vicki Allen

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