NEW YORK – It should surprise no one that the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, turned out to be wildly expensive and riddled with corruption. But the scale of excess is nonetheless staggering. The cost of building ski slopes, ice rinks, roads, halls, and stadiums for winter sports in a subtropical Black Sea resort has been well over $50 billion. Critics say that half of this was either stolen or paid as kickbacks to President Vladimir Putin’s cronies, who just happened to win the biggest contracts.
One critic, a Russian businessman named Valery Morozov, claims that officials in Putin’s own office demanded payoffs for contracts. After being told that he would “be drowned in blood,” Morozov fled the country.