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© RIA Novosti. Andrei Aleksandrov

Most of Sochi Olympic budget stolen - Russian ex-minister

by R-Sport at 31/05/2013 12:57

As much as $30 billion of the budget for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics has been stolen, according to a report published Thursday and co-authored by a former Russian minister turned opposition leader.

Russia’s first Winter Olympics are set to be the most expensive in history, with a price tag of $50 billion, and have attracted frequent claims of widespread corruption.

The report by former energy minister Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, and activist Leonid Martinyuk claims the entire project is a "monstrous scam" and that the Olympic facilities should cost $20 billion when compared to the prices of similar projects in other countries.

“The overall size of embezzlement amounts to around $25 billion to $30 billion, or 50 to 60 percent of the final cost announced for the Olympics,” the report states. “And that’s a minimum.”

“We aren’t even taking into account that the slave labor of migrant workers is used at the Olympics. We aren’t taking into account that the quality of the work that has been done does not compare in any way whatsoever with the quality of building in [former Winter Olympic hosts] Vancouver, Turin and Salt Lake City.”

The report’s authors name several leading Russian business and political figures who they suggest have improperly profited from the Games, and lists several example of contracts they consider suspect.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said he had only seen news of Nemtsov's report, not the document itself.

Adams said the IOC had "no issues at all" with the "normal" operational budget for the Games of 200 billion rubles ($6.3 billion). Regarding the infrastructure budget, Adams said it was a question for the Russian government.

"In terms of questions about corruption the Russian authorities are taking the Games project, as you'd expect, very seriously, and questions about corruption have so far been addressed pretty much head-on from the president down," Adams said.

Putin has previously said that corruption fears will not affect preparation for the Games.

On Thursday, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge praised the speed of Russia’s preparations at a meeting with Putin.

In 2010, then-President Dmitry Medvedev, now Prime Minister, ordered prosecutors to investigate corruption in Sochi, but there have been no high-profile convictions.

Attempts to contact spokespeople for Medvedev went unanswered Thursday.

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