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Third of Sochi Budget Swindled, Says IOC Member

Published: January 16, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Gian-Franco Kasper, head of the International Ski Federation, has made accusations of money being stolen from Sochi's budget despite being allegedly implicated himself.
    Photo: Thomas Lohnes / AP

An International Olympic Committee member who alleged massive theft at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games in Russia should be taken to court over the comments, a leading Russian official said Wednesday.

Gian-Franco Kasper told Swiss radio last week that he believed up to a third of Sochi's estimated $50 billion budget for the Games had been siphoned off, pointing the finger at businessmen close to the Kremlin and to President Vladimir Putin.

The comments provoked a strong response from Vladimir Yakunin, the government-appointed head of Russia's vast state-run railway company and one of the country's most powerful men. Russian Railways is also a major Olympic investor and constructor in Sochi.

"Did [Kasper] take part in this theft? Then he should be judged," Yakunin said. "If he has received some sort of materials proving it's true, then put him on the stand, but otherwise you're a slanderer and you need to be judged according to the law."

With three weeks to go before the Olympic opening ceremony in Sochi, Yakunin's remarks could cause friction between the Russian government and the IOC. As head of the International Ski Federation, Kasper is expected to attend the Games.

Kasper is not the first to allege massive corruption in the Sochi construction process. Opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, a former minister, published a report last year that claimed up to half of the budget had been stolen.

Putin has said in the past that he expects "critical remarks" about corruption, but that the issue is confined to "financial institutions" and will not affect the smooth running of the Sochi Games.

The Olympics run from February 7 to 23.

See also:

Sochi Risks Fumbling its Olympic Tourism Opportunity

A Tale of Two Olympic Cities





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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