Saturday, April 19, 2014


Russia

Opinion Poll Shows Russians Unhappy About Sochi Corruption

A presentation of cars with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games logo in Moscow in the months running up to the event
A presentation of cars with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games logo in Moscow in the months running up to the event
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By RFE/RL's Russian Service
MOSCOW -- An opinion poll by Russia's independent Levada polling center shows Russians are unhappy about perceived corruption linked to the Winter Olympics in Sochi but would be disappointed if Russian teams were not among medal winners.

Speaking ahead of the poll's release on February 5, Levada director Lev Gudkov told RFE/RL's Russian Service that 47 percent of respondents believe so much money was spent hosting the Sochi games because a significant part of the funds were mismanaged or embezzled.

Seventeen percent thought President Vladimir Putin staged the games to enhance his personal image.

Yet most respondents believed a strong performance by Russian athletes would boost Russia's international image.

The Levada poll also showed most Russians do not want similar high-cost events staged in the country in the future. Russia is to host the World Cup in 2018.

Meanwhile, Russian opposition figure and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov renewed his allegations of massive corruption linked to the upcoming Olympics.

In an interview with RFE/RL on February 4, Nemtsov said $25 billion-$30 billion has been stolen from Olympic funds.

He alleged the funds were stolen by officials linked to Putin and his business cronies.

Nemtsov noted that to attend the Olympics, Russian citizens must obtain a "fan's passport" from security officials. According to Nemtsov, some opposition activists have failed to get such a document, proving the Kremlin wants to avoid anti-Putin protests at the games.

Nemtsov also commented on a report he presented on February 4 on energy giant Gazprom, saying the company is fully controlled by Putin and his associates and is spending vast amounts of money on unnecessary pipelines.

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