Russian President Vladimir Putin "handed out medals to a number of Russian billionaires who invested in the Sochi Olympics, the world's most expensive Games," according to Alexei Anishchuk of REUTERS. Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported Putin "gave the awards to major investors, including Sberbank CEO German Gref, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and tycoons Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska." Vedomosti reported the was closed to media and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov "declined to comment when contacted by the paper" (REUTERS, 6/3).
The former head of Salzburg, Austria's bid committee for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Fedor Radmann, "was reportedly blackmailed by the Russian mafia," according to the KURIER. German newspaper "Bild am Sonntag" reported that Radmann "was blackmailed by the mafia and forced to resign in Jan. '07 after only a short period of time at the helm of the bid committee." Radmann "denied the report." The newspaper reported Russian President Vladimir Putin "obviously used dirty tricks" to bring the Games to Sochi. He reportedly "asked the Russian mafia to get rid of Salzburg, which was one of Sochi's top contenders." At the beginning of '06, German investigators "witnessed a meeting between representatives of Russia's government and bosses of the Russian mafia in a restaurant in Munich." The "topic of the meeting was reportedly the Olympic bid." Two months later, Radmann "received an uncomfortable visit." Representatives of mafia boss Jussupow reportedly "put serious pressure on Radmann." He "denied that such a visit ever happened." Radmann said that "he does not know Jussupow nor was he ever bribed or blackmailed." Salzburg Mayor Heinz Schaden, a board member of the city's Olympic bid, "talked to Radmann shortly before his resignation." He said, "Radmann told me verbatim, 'I refuse to be blackmailed'" (KURIER, 5/26).