Putin fires Olympic aide over building delays
VLADIMIR Putin has sacked a senior Olympic official as concerns mount over construction delays and the soaring cost of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Akhmed Bilalov (42) the vice-president of Russia's Olympic Committee, was removed from his post as the Russian president carried out an inspection in the Black Sea coast city.
The €37bn cost of the Sochi Olympics will make them the most expensive in history – beating the €31bn spent by Beijing on the 2008 Games.
The original estimate for the Games was a fifth of the current figure and Russian opposition figures are suggesting huge tranches of money have been siphoned off by corrupt officials and contractors.
There have also been signs that locating the Winter Games in a warm region could be problematic. A snowboarding test event was cancelled on Monday because of a lack of snow.
Environmental activists have claimed that toxic waste from construction has been dumped in rivers and some local residents complain of being denied compensation for demolished houses, or for homes damaged by landslides caused by the dumping of building waste.
On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said that migrant workers building the Olympic venues were toiling "in exploitative, abusive conditions".
Mr Bilalov's ousting became inevitable after Mr Putin was seen on TV chiding officials over a ski jump venue, whose budget had grown from €28.8m to €195.2m. Mr Putin urged officials to speed up construction to finish in time for the start of the Games. (© Daily Telegraph, London)