Columnist Claims Putin's Consiglieres Have Stolen $30B From Sochi's 'Mafia Olympics'
The sports press is "agog with the revelation" by NFL New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft that in '05, Russian President Vladimir Putin "stole his Super Bowl ring," according to Dave Zirin of the London GUARDIAN's Talking Sport blog. It is "a pulpy, punchy story," and also "fits a narrative that has served Vladimir Putin well." He is "the Tony Soprano of world leaders." Putin "isn't nearly as ruthlessly efficient as his legend suggests." Putin "has staked his reputation on the smooth hosting of the winter games." Based on the planning, it "either speaks to how little he values his reputation, or more likely, that beneath the steely glare and martial arts muscles, he's being exposed as little more than a thuggish front man for a kleptocracy." A detailed report revealed that "businessmen and various consiglieres of Putin have stolen up to" $30B from funds intended for Olympic preparations. This "has pushed the cost of the winter games, historically far less expensive than their summer counterpart" to more than $50B. That $50B price tag "would make them the most expensive games in history, more costly than the previous twenty-one winter games combined." As Lords of the Rings author Andrew Jennings, who is also "the most important Olympic investigative reporter we have," said, "The games have always been a money-spinner for the cheerleaders in the shadows. Beijing remains impenetrable but is likely to have been little less corrupt than Putin's mafia state." "Mafia state" may sound extreme, but these winter games "will go down in history as perhaps the most audacious act of embezzlement in human history." Even more nauseating "is the shrug of the shoulders" from the IOC. Former French skier Jean-Claude Killy "is now in charge" of the IOC's coordination commission for the Sochi Games. Killy: "I don't recall an Olympics without corruption. It's not an excuse, obviously, and I'm very sorry about it, but there might be corruption in this country, there was corruption before" (GUARDIAN, 6/18).