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New BMW Goes On Sale In Russia, One Day After Being Awarded To Gold Medalists

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shows off a new BMW to synchronized swimmer Natalia Ishchenko, who won gold at the Rio Olympics on August 16. It's not known if Ishchenko was the swimmer selling her new car, however.

For Sale: 2016 BMW X6 II luxury crossover. Low mileage. White exterior. Black interior. Acquired first-hand from the president of the Russian Federation. Asking $73,000.

One day after Russia’s Olympic medalists were feted at the Kremlin with praise, cash, and brand-new luxury import cars, Russians were surprised on August 26 to discover one of the cars had already been put up for sale.

The car, still bearing the stenciling "Team Russia 2016," appeared in a for-sale advertisement posted to the popular car shopping website, priced at 4.7 million rubles, along with this description:

"The car was presented by President V.V. Putin himself! For great achievement in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, and more precisely, for an Olympic gold!! The car is new!"

The BMWs, which were reportedly not imported but in fact assembled at a plant in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, were part of a package of prizes and rewards given to the Olympians returning from the Rio games.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a ceremony for Russian Olympic medalists returning home from Rio.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a ceremony for Russian Olympic medalists returning home from Rio.

In addition to the cars, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said medalists would be receiving cash awards: $62,000 for gold, $39,000 for silver, and $26,000 for bronze. (Similarly, silver and bronze medalists received less luxurious but still pricey BMW models: the X4 and the X3.)

The prizes were handed out amid triumphant praise from Putin and other officials, along with angry denunciations of the doping ban that resulted in scores of Russian athletes being barred from the Rio competition.

The ban was issued after world sporting authorities concluded that Russia had orchestrated a large-scale, state-sponsored doping program. The discovery also resulted in Russia's entire Paralympic team being barred from those games, which begin in September.

Later on August 26, a woman who identified herself as a representative of the athlete selling the car told the radio station Govorit Moskva that there was a less controversial answer to the question of why a medalist would stoop to sell such a prize.

The recipient was a member of the synchronized swimming team in Rio, said the woman, and she didn’t know how to drive.

The post remained on the website as of late on August 26, though with the remark: "This advertisement is no longer valid."

Russia was fourth in the medal count at the Rio games with 56 medals, 19 of them gold.

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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage. He's reported on the ground on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, and the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.