Putin Sochi
Russia's President Vladimir Putin walks after the national team welcoming ceremony in the Athletes Village at the Olympic Park in Sochi Reuters

The Sochi Winter Olympics are to go down in history as one of the most controversial Games in history.

Moved by different motives but united by a common aversion towards the patron of the Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a disparate group of NGOs, politicians, hackers, celebrities and common people have criticised the games or called for a boycott.

IBTimes UK takes a look at the main groups opposing Sochi 2014.

1. Circassians

Circassians living in Turkey gather in front of the Russian Consulate in Istanbul to protest against the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics  Reuters

The northwestern Caucus region, where Sochi lies was the motherland of Circassian people before being conquered by Czarist Russia in 1864.

Circassians, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims, say punitive raids and ethnic cleansing carried out by the Russian military during and after the conflict amounted to genocide.

Historians estimate that more than 600,000 Circassians were killed and at least as many deported to the Ottoman Empire.

Members of the Circassian community were the first to call for a Sochi boycott. A group named No Sochi was set up shortly after the Russian town was selected to host the Games in 2007.

The Olympics mark the 150th anniversary of the Cirscassian genocide, adding to the community's disdain.

"In their view, it's sort of like holding an Olympiad at Auschwitz," linguist John Colarusso, told CBC.

The Cirscassian cause was taken up by an offshoot of hacktivist group Anonymous - Anonymous Caucasus – which has threatened to launch cyber attacks against any company which finances or supports the Winter Olympics.

2. LGBT groups

Putin Gay Sochi
A demonstrator holds up a poster with a picture of Vladimir Putin during a protest against Russia's new anti-gay laws Reuters

The games have come under fire from LGBT groups in opposition to Russia's anti-gay propaganda bill that was passed into law with the backing of Putin's United Russia party last year.

Gay rights groups are to stage protests around the world to highlight what they describe as the systematic oppression of Russian gays and lesbians.

"Sochi in many ways is the beginning of a new chapter in the LGBT movement, and our work is to educate people at home," Julie Dorf, a senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality, told NCB News.

Advocacy group Human Rights Campaign urged International Olympic Committee sponsors to speak up against sexual discrimination. The call was first answered by telecommunications giant AT&T that expressed support to "LGBT equality globally".

3. Environmentalists

Sochi environment
An aerial view shows a power line outside the Black Sea resort city of Sochi Reuters

Environmental activist have claimed that Putin has trashed his pledge that the Winter Olympics would be green and even improve Sochi's environment.

According to environmentalists, the massive construction works that turned the subtropical seaside town in a Winter Olympic wonderland have greatly damaged the local nature.

Huge dumping grounds, hydroelectric power stations on the local Mzymta River, and road and railway works have affected the Sochi National Park, wrecked the local habitat and destroyed wildlife populations, environmental activists say.

On the days leading to the opening ceremony Igor Kharchenko and Yevgeny Vitishko, two members of the Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus, were arrested by local authorities.

4. Animal rights activists

Sochi stray dogs
A dog barks in front of the Olympic Park in Sochi Reuters

Animal rights activists have condemned Sochi officials for the extermination of stray dogs carried out in preparation for the Olympics.

Some animal rights groups say that over 2,000 stray cats and dogs were killed in 2013.

Earlier this week, the head of a pest control company that regularly puts down stray dogs in the area said that officials have asked for more to be killed over the duration of the Games.

A spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said: "Although Russia has reportedly spent more than $50bn (£31bn) in preparation for hosting the Winter Olympics, it's the animals of Sochi who are paying the ultimate price, as stray dogs are being rounded up and killed in cruel ways in an apparent effort to present the world with a glamorous image of Russia.

"This cruel killing programme will do nothing to provide a long-term solution to the stray-dog population.

"We urge sports fans to contact their Russian embassy and demand an end to the massacre, which is tainting this sporting celebration with the blood of thousands of innocent animals," Peta added.

Also this week, a separate "sexy snow bunny" protest against furs staged by two Peta supporters at the Olympic Village, was broken up by police.

5. Political opponents and human rights activists

Madonna Pussy Riot
Madonna introduces Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova during the Amnesty International benefit concert in New York Reuters

Apparently Putin sees the Sochi Olympics as his presidential apotheosis and the event marking Russia's return to the table of world super powers.

Putin's rule has been widely criticised for a crackdown on any form of opposition, which has included the jailing and harassment of journalists, human rights groups and politicians.

Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International's Moscow director said: "The message to President Putin, from rank and file Amnesty International supporters to world leaders staying away from the Games, is the same – repeal the series of laws that restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly."

"These laws suppress creativity and the development of civil society and undermine the legitimate role of human rights activists in Russia," he said.

Among the most vocal opponents of "Putin's Games" were the formerly jailed members of punk band Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina.

The two singers and activists reiterated calls for a boycott at a charity concert for Amnesty International - attended also by Madonna and Yoko Ono - in New York this week.