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The so-called Zenit-Arena stadium in St. Petersburg is said to be 85 percent complete. (file photo)

The Russian city of St. Petersburg has canceled a contract for the construction of a stadium that is scheduled to host matches during the 2018 World Cup soccer championships.

The city made the announcement on July 15, saying that some $39 million allocated for the stadium was unaccounted for. City authorities have asked prosecutors to investigate the Inzhtransstroi-SPB construction firm that has been overseeing the project.

The stadium, given the provisional name Zenit arena after the city's main soccer team, has been nearly a decade in the making and currently has a total estimated cost of $620 million. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently called the project "disgraceful."

In a statement on July 14, Inzhtransstroi-SPB said it wants to complete the 68,000-seat stadium by the end of the year, "but the city administration is doing everything to derail the completion of the project on time."

Vadim Tyulpanov, chairman of the parliamentary commission overseeing preparations for the 2018 World Cup, said the city's decision could mean that St. Petersburg will not be able to host the 2017 Federations Cup as planned.

"If the stadium is not commissioned in December, we won’t be able to host the tournament in June," he said.

He added that the project is currently 85 percent complete.

Based on reporting by Vesti, Interfax, AP, and TASS
Sergei Krivov in court during his trial in 2013.

Sergei Krivov, one of more than 20 Russians convicted of violating public order during a demonstration against election fraud in 2012, has been released from prison upon completion of his three-year, nine-month sentence.

Activists reported on social media on July 15 that Krivov had left Prison Colony No. 6 in Bryansk Oblast and was on his way to Moscow.

Several thousand Russians demonstrated on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow on May 6, 2012 against the reelection of President Vladimir Putin, and there were clashes with police during the event.

The investigation into the disorder and subsequent trials have come to be called the Bolotnaya Case.

Krivov was sentenced to four years in prison, including time already served, in February 2014, but an appeals court later reduced that sentence by three months.

During his trial, he complained that he had been beaten and he held two hunger strikes. He filed numerous complaints about treatment and conditions during his time in prison, which his lawyers say prompted his transfer to a facility with even worse conditions.

An appeal for his early release was rejected in March.

Two Bolotnaya detainees – Aleksei Gaskarov and Dmitry Ishevsky – remain in prison. Two others – Dmitry Buchenkov and Maksim Panfilov – are being held in pretrial detention. Last month, a court extended their term of detention until September.

Based on reporting by grani.ru, Novaya Gazeta, and mediazone

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