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SBD Global/January 28, 2014/Olympics

Russian Activist Publishes Website Detailing Alleged Corruption At Sochi Olympics

An interactive website launched Monday by anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny "paints a vivid picture of the suspected cost overruns and conflicts of interest at the Sochi Winter Olympics," according to Nataliya Vasilyeva of the AP. Navalny claims that Russia "spent twice as much as necessary" to build at least 10 of the Olympic venues -- including the Bolshoi Ice Palace, the Fisht Stadium for the Opening/Closing Ceremonies and the speed-skating arena. Navalny's new website -- Sochi.FBK.info -- "combines data gathered during his own investigations along with media reports and other activists' analysis." Using colorful graphics, the website "makes a wide range of data accessible in English and Russian." Navalny, who finished second in Moscow's mayoral election last year, wrote, "Athletes are not the only people who compete in Sochi. Officials and businessmen also took part in the Games and turned them into a source of income" (AP, 1/27). REUTERS' Thomas Grove reported Navalny's report, "which won little attention in Russia's tightly controlled media, also contradicted government statements that private companies had financed more than half of the investment in Sochi." It said that funds channelled through state-controlled companies "had been portrayed as private, rather than public investment and that the private sector had really put in less than 4 percent of the overall cost." The report said that "under international accounting standards such investments would be considered state money." The report stated, "In their statements, officials referred to investments of Gazprom, Sberbank, Russian Railways and other government-affiliated entities as private investments" (REUTERS, 1/27).
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