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Putin highlights Sochi infrastructure investment
February 11, 2014, 5:05 am

Putin said the money was invested to make Sochi attractive for middle-class tourists, not for a small group of rich visitors “who can afford losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a casino." [Xinhua]

Putin said the money was invested to make Sochi attractive for middle-class tourists, not for a small group of rich visitors “who can afford losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a casino.” [Xinhua]

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said appropriate authorities would probe into the charges of inflated costs of infrastructure development in Sochi for the Winter Olympics.

“Let the supervisory bodies deal with this. They will sort it out,” Putin said.

He was addressing a meeting of Sochi’s public council in charge of preparations in the city for the global sporting event.

The Russian President also expressed hope on Monday that the infrastructure would continue to function after the Games, “for another decade, or maybe for another century, like in some European countries.”

A cost estimate by the Russian government for infrastructure and hosting costs for the Games put the cost at $51 billion last year, although Russian officials and the International Olympic Committee have since said it is only fair to count $6.4 billion of direct hosting costs.

International media reports have suggested upto $30 billion of the estimated $50 billion has been embezzled by corrupt officials.

The Games in Sochi is tipped to be the most expensive ever, and more than three times the costs of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Athens spent $15 billion in 2004 but Greek debt spiraled after the Games.

On the other hand, China had spent $40 billion for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Kremlin meanwhile has drawn attention to Sochi’s small size compared with previous Olympic host cities like London and Beijing when analyzing development costs.

Putin said during Monday’s meeting that Sochi infrastructure has seen a massive face-lift, with numerous building projects of stadiums, roads, public transportation, hotels, restaurants and other services, specially for the Olympics over the last five to seven years. The administration has said it spent only about $5 billion to $7 billion on Olympic preparation not related to infrastructure development.

“We used the Olympic Games as a reason for investing the needed resources into developing the Greater Sochi area and to a large extent this whole coastal region,” said Putin.

Russia will be hoping to repeat the success of Barcelona, which raised its appeal for tourists and businesses through its 1992 Games.

Putin also said Monday that he was against turning Sochi into a gambling resort after the Olympics, because the Black Sea city would then lose its traditional holidaymakers — middle-class families with children.

Putin said the money was invested to make Sochi attractive for middle-class tourists, not for a small group of rich visitors “who can afford losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a casino.”

Russia banned gambling in 2009, except for four designated zones across the country.

Moscow will prioritize using the infrastructure built for the Olympics in Sochi to its utmost potential, said Putin.

“We should put into operation everything that had been created and ensure that it works efficiently,” the Russian President said.

The Paralympic Games, which immediately follow the Olympics, are scheduled to close in Sochi on March 16.

 

TBP and Agencies

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