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Those Winter Games in Sochi.....

Ah, the Winter Olympics.....about to kick off in Sochi.   By all accounts, apart from Sochi not being ready to deal with everything associated with the most expensive Games ever, a number of issues have also been come to prominence.    Probably not to the liking of Vlad Putin!

From Amy Goodman:

"The Sochi Olympic Games are rightly highlighting the constellation of abuses that have become standard in Russia under Vladimir Putin. Most notably is intense, often violent homophobia, tacitly endorsed by the government with the recent passage of the law against “gay propaganda.” While Sochi shines a light on Russian human-rights violations, it affords an opportunity to expose the rampant corruption and abuse that accompanies the International Olympic Committee (IOC)."

From The New Yorker:

"Whatever happens on the ice and snow of Sochi in the next couple of weeks, one thing is certain: this Winter Olympics is the greatest financial boondoggle in the history of the Games. Back in 2007, Vladimir Putin said that Russia would spend twelve billion dollars on the Games. The actual amount is more than fifty billion. (By comparison, Vancouver’s Games, in 2010, cost seven billion dollars.) Exhaustive investigations by the opposition figures Boris Nemtsov, Leonid Martynyuk, and Alexei Navalny reveal dubious cost overruns and outright embezzlement. And all this lavish spending (largely paid for by Russian taxpayers) has been, as Nemtsov and Martynyuk write, “controlled largely by businesspeople and companies close to Putin.”

Sochi is emblematic of Russia’s economy: conflicts of interest and cronyism are endemic. But the link between corruption and construction is a problem across the globe. Transparency International has long cited the construction industry as the world’s most corrupt, pointing to the prevalence of bribery, bid rigging, and bill padding. And, while the sheer scale of graft in Sochi is unusual, the practice of politicians using construction contracts to line their pockets and dole out favors isn’t. In the past year alone, Quebec learned about systematic kickbacks and Mob influ­ence in the awarding of city construction contracts. In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become embroiled in a vast scandal involving friendly construction tycoons who were given cheap loans and no-bid contracts. And a recent report from the accounting firm Grant Thornton estimated that, by 2025, the cost of fraud in the industry worldwide will have reached $1.5 trillion."


From The New York Review of Books:

"In all the comment about this month’s Sochi Olympics, there is bewilderment above all about Sochi itself: Why on earth would the Kremlin decide to host the Games in an underdeveloped place where terrorists lurk nearby—a place that a front-page New York Times story this week describes as “the edge of a war zone”?

The answer is not as complicated as it may seem. Vladimir Putin comes from St. Petersburg. He rules from Moscow. But it is the North Caucasus that launched him on his path to the summit of Russian power. Anyone who wants to understand the many controversies now roiling around Sochi must start with this fundamental political fact."

 





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