On January 30th, the Institute of Modern Russia will present a mobile website entitled “Sochi-2014: the Reverse Side of the Medal,” dedicated to violations that plagued the preparations for the Winter Olympic Games in Russia.
Since Sochi won the Olympic bid in 2007, concerns about the development of this area, spending procedures, and project implementation have grown exponentially. It is a known fact that Vladimir Putin considers the Sochi Olympic Games to be the crown jewel of his achievements as a national leader and a strong international player. In a sense, the Sochi Games are Putin’s personal “vanity fair.”
It comes as no surprise that billions of dollars were allocated from the state budget to implement this project. The official cost of the Games has been announced as about $6.7 billion, but various independent sources indicate that in reality expenses have amounted to $50 billion. And it is no surprise that most of the excessive costs were caused by mind-bogglingly corrupt practices employed by Putin’s closest friends and loyalists.
Six months before the Games, the Institute of Modern Russia embarked on a research project to study the key issues of the Olympic preparations, such as excessive spending, deadline delays, corrupt practices, and human rights violations. A list of 26 sites associated with Olympic construction was compiled. According to IMR, these sites deserve special attention because of the scale of corruption and the acuteness of other violations related to them. In an effort to raise awareness on these abuses, IMR decided to present the collected data in an unconventional way—as an interactive online guide.
The results of the research are summarized and presented in the form of a mobile website entitled “Sochi-2014: The Reverse Side of the Medal,”, which provides an opportunity to explore the reality of the most expensive Olympic Games in history. This site is available in both English and Russian.
The website content is divided into three sections:
- A map of the Sochi region showing the locations of all 26 sites;
- Short descriptions of each site focusing on the issues of corruption, construction delays, and other violations, plus a slideshow showing the development of each site over time
- A quiz that allows readers to test their knowledge of the newly acquired information and gives them a chance to win a $250 Amazon gift card by entering a sweepstakes
The website will be launched on January 30 at a conference entitled “Olympic Abuses: Russia Before the Sochi Games” that will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. At this event, IMR Political Advisor Vladimir Kara-Murza will officially present the project. This will be followed by a presentation of the English-language publication of Winter Olympics in the Sub-Tropics, a report co-authored by Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and local opposition activist Leonid Martynyuk, who will also discuss their findings. The Hon. David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, will offer his perspectives on how the West should approach the Sochi Olympics.