Russian Campaigner Publishes Sochi Corruption File

Putin shrugs off accusations raised by anti-corruption crusader of illicitly fixing bids in Sochi.

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Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny on Monday launched a website to publish a wide range of data pointing to corruption in Sochi.

Russia has spent about $51 billion to deliver the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which run February 7-23, making them the most expensive Olympics ever.

Navalny's website combines his own investigations of alleged corruption in Sochi with media reports and other activists' analysis.

"Athletes are not the only people who compete in Sochi," Navalny, who finished a strong second in Moscow's mayoral election last year, said on the website. "Officials and businessmen also took part in the games and turned them into a source of income."

Navalny claims that the cost of at least 10 Olympics venues was twice as high as it should have been. He also lists deals in Sochi construction with evident conflict of interest.

President Vladimir Putin has rejected claims about rampant corruption in Sochi, saying that the inflated prices were due to the honest mistakes of investors.

"If anybody has got this information, please show this to us," Putin said in a recent television interview. "But so far we haven't seen anything except speculation."

A 2012 report by the Russian Audit Chamber found about 15 billion rubles (about $500 million) in "unreasonable" cost overruns in the preparations for the Sochi Olympics.

Auditors found that the work of some staff members at Olympstroi, the state company in charge of Sochi construction, between 2008 and 2010 was "conducive to incurring unreasonable cost overruns." At least three criminal investigations against Olympstroi employees have been opened, but none of them has reached court.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny holding his membership card during voting, Moscow, November 17, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, the Black Sea resort of Sochi, January 19, 2014.Credit: AFP

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