Stormclouds over Sochi
A few weeks ago, we reported that the Olympic organizing committee was shocked at a recent inspection of Sochi to see how little progress the Putin regime had made in constructing the basic facilities that will be necessay to host the 2014 Olympics there. As always, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin gave assurances that everything was fine.
As always, Putin was lying.
Soon came word, last week, that Putin had fired the CEO of Russia’s Olympics construction programViktor Kolodyazhny, and in a truly insane move replace him with . . . wait for it . . . Taimuraz Bolloyev, the founder of the Baltika beer corporation. Presumably, when Bolloyev fails even more spectacularly than Kolodyazhny (because the former has abolutely no qualifications to undertake construction managment), he can at least respond by dolling out free beer and getting everyone drunk enough to forget the humiliation being inflicted on the nation before the gaping eyes of the world.
Putin declared: “When high-ranking officials do not assist in lowering prices but, on the contrary, demand price retentions and increases, that is totally unacceptable in today’s circumstances. Nothing of the kind will be allowed in the future. I ask you to pay attention to that.”
This is the second time Putin has had to fire the CEO of the project in as many years. The first CEO was an equally unqualified oil executive who quickly ran the ship aground. As to the second, the MT quotes Valery Suchkov, a member of Sochi’s Public Chamber: “It was clear from the time he was appointed that he wouldn’t stay in office very long. His level of professionalism was too low for such a position.” These are the personal choices of Vladimir Putin we’re talking about, and they reveal absolute incompetence.
Now, Putin seems to be saying that although costs have escalated wildly, far beyond projections, no additional money will be provided to the project (for the excellent reason that a bankrupt Russia has no such money), and the new CEO is charged with cutting corners and strongarming contractors to force them to deliver regardless of their losses.
Just think about the security and safety implications of this pressure. How will Russia be sure the venues are safe to occupy and use? How can it guarantee the world it can block terrorist attacks? Quite simply, it can’t. It doesn’t care. That’s our problem.
And indeed, he’s right. As we’ve said before, the world must immediately divest Russia of the 2014 games and relocate them to a country that is actually qualified and capable. Russia’s diversion of so many billions of dollars to this folly when its population is in the streets over unpaid wages and empty bellies is an atrocity, and the games should never have been awarded to a regime that is wiping out the basic values of freedom and competition that the Olympics hold dear.
Say no to Sochi. Say yes to freedom and Olympic values.