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Reports Show The Dark Side of the Sochi Winter Olympics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 30 2014

Screen shot of The Anti-Corruption Foundation's Encyclopedia of Spending

There is a side to the Winter Olympics that won't be shown on NBC, but corruption watchdogs like Alexei Navalny are on it. Both Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and Human Rights Watch have released interactive reports on the corruption, human rights abuse and environmental harm behind the scenes of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The Encyclopedia of Spending, which went live on Monday, can be searched by Olympic site or by the “Champions of corruption race.”

For example, a page for the Olympic Village reveals that a bed there costs as much as a two-room apartment in Moscow. This is mostly significant because the private investor who built the hotel, Oligarch Deripaska, did so with state money. Derispaka is supposed to pay back the loan after the Games when the Olympic Village will be sold as a housing complex, but it might be tough to find buyers who would choose a bed over an entire apartment.

In the category of “Classic Embezzlement,” Arkady Rotenberg takes home the Gold:

This businessman has been involved in nearly all major construction projects of the last decade — most notably, in APEC Summit and the Olympic Games. Five of his companies have been contracted for 20 different locations in Sochi — roads, road junctions, hotels, a media center and a Formula 1 track. One of Rotenberg’s biggest Olympic contracts involved construction of a relief highway for Kurortny avenue in Sochi. The road took 1 year longer to complete and cost 130% of benchmark projects. In February 2013, Arkady sold his stake at Inzhtransstroy, the company that spent $2.2 bn of state funds for construction of 11 Olympic facilities. Six months later the company was sued by the client for over $30.6 mn citing missed deadlines and substandard work.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Alexei Navalny, Russian lawyer, anti-corruption blogger and 2013 Moscow mayoral candidate, said that the report from his Anti-Corruption Foundation is valuable because of his background exposing corruption.

We see that authorities do not pay attention to those critics because they claim that they are not reliable sources, that all their figures are not checked, and people who write them are not professionals. Especially with our report, the thing is that a group of people work at the Fighting Against Corruption Foundation who understand very well how government money and finances work...I would say that there is no new sensational information of magnitude in our report, but it fully confirms other efforts and could be used for formal probes and charges against people.

The Human Rights Watch interactive report highlights the forced evictions of Russians living on Olympic sites, the environmental costs of illegal dumping sites and deforestation, and the exploitation of 16,000 migrant workers. The report includes videos, photographs, and detailed reports.

Forced evictions were also a problem in Brazil as it began gearing up for the 2014 World Cup. Last June they began uploading protest videos to YouTube. This YouTube video does a brilliant job of summing up the problems with Brazil hosting the World Cup.

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