Up To $30 Billion Reportedly Stolen From Russian Winter Olympics Preparation

Sochi Olympics Russia

The 2014 Sochi Olympics are already expected to be amongst the most expensive in history, with reports that Russia will dwarf the $6 billion Vancouver spent in 2010 with an estimated final budget of $51 billion.

Howver, not all that money is being spent as it should, according to a new report from Russian opposition figures Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk.

The pair have spent six months analysing Sochi Olympics spending and concluded that the games will be a “monstrous scam” with up to $30 billion in funds stolen — more than half the already inflated budget.

Nemtsov and Martynyuk argue that the most expensive sports complexes were built without proper competition or public tenders, with contracts going to friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin for inflated price tags.

“It is obvious that Putin’s friends are running the preparations for the [2014 Sochi] Olympic Games,” Nemtsov told RFE/RL in an interview. “It is also obvious that one is reluctant to put his own friends behind bars. However, we cannot look at all this passively because the scale [of their activities] will only grow bigger. The embezzlement they are presiding over is not just some kind of children’s game but a real threat to Russia’s national security.”

Nemtsov is a former deputy prime minister while Martynyuk is a member of the Solidarity movement. The pair say that the money wasted would be enough to provide housing for 800,000 people in Russia.

The report is embarrassing for the games — Russia is likely hoping that they can dispel the persistent talk of corruption and inefficiency that lingers around the country with a well-run, efficient yet spectacular games (also take note of the millions the government is paying Goldman Sachs to boost its image this year). However the budget overrun (almost five times the original budget of $12 billion) and reports of snow being stored in case of a shortage in the relatively-warm Sochi are worrying omens.

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