Alexey Navalny, the anti-Putin activist who unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Moscow in 2013 and thwarted plans to fling him in jail has produced an interactive on-line report – Sochi 2014 – The Encyclopaedia of Spending, alleging mass corruption in the organisation and construction of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
Navalny and a team of 23 people have sifted through accounts, books and records for state spending related to the Olympic Games to find irregularities which allegedly indicate corruption. While the official cost of the Sochi Olympics is USD6.5bn, the Encycolpaedia of Spending alleges that Russian citizens have paid USD45.8bn. The team behind the report leaked a pre-publication copy to Buzzfeed, which has listed some of the most outlandish points. The report also contains the names of various companies based in Russia and one in St Kitts and politically exposed persons.
From Buzzfeed: “Navalny’s team of 23 people spent two months sifting through documents to calculate that the Kremlin, the province of Krasnodar that includes Sochi, state-run corporations, and Russia’s state development bank accounted for over 96% of total Olympic spending — 30% of which was given to offshore companies whose real owners are unknown. Many of the known contractors have close ties to the Kremlin, including Putin’s former judo sparring partner, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s ski coach, and the main sponsor of Putin’s flight with cranes on a dirigible in 2012.”
The report includes some startling analysis of what is allegedly going on behind the heavily veiled scenes. Earlier in January, Putin publicly denied there was any corruption tied to the Sochi Olympic Games and called for proof. Navalny has certainly provided him with something to chew on.
Here are 16 of the most ’eye-popping’ headlines from the report which alleges corruption – the excerpts read like a work of fiction.
1. Russian taxpayers are picking up 96% of the tab.
2. The Olympic Stadium is two and a half times more expensive than similar stadiums in Europe; its cost may have gone up 14-fold in seven years.
3. Three of Putin’s old friends were awarded contracts totalling US$15bn.
4. A mafia-linked businessman with ties to Putin’s friends built the Shayba hockey arena for US$33m over market price.
5. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s ski instructor was awarded contracts totalling $2.5 bn.
6. The IOC’s offices were built at least 30% over market price by the son of a VP at Russia’s Olympic company and the sponsor of Putin’s infamous 2012 flight with cranes.
7. A construction company owned by Siberian politicians with no experience building sports arenas has spent US$500m on projects up to 2.3 times over market price.
8. The local governor spent US$15m in Olympic funds on a helicopter for himself.
9. His 28-year-old son-in-law is building a “Russian Disneyland” that won’t even be ready until 2020.
10. A power station built at nearly double market price still can’t supply Sochi with enough electricity for the Olympics.
11. Officials put on a fake opening ceremony at Sochi’s new airport for IOC dignitaries in 2007, three years before it actually opened.
12. The speed skating arena is seven times over budget and US$130m over market price.
13. The Iceberg Skating Palace cost more than double the equivalent arena built for the 2006 Olympics in Turin.
14. The state company in charge of the Olympics has had four directors in six years and is the subject of numerous criminal investigations.
15. One of the biggest Olympic contractors has his own coat of arms.
16. Putin spent Russian Orthodox Christmas in a new US$15m church paid for out of the Olympic budget.
Navalny (@navalny on Twitter) tweets mainly in Russian but the translator is good enough to keep you up to speed with what he is doing.