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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Annals of Sochi: Geographical Notes from All Over

Question: Which city is closer to Sochi, host of the 2014 Olympic games: the Russian capital of Moscow or the Chechen capital of Grozny?

Answer: Grozny is 299.85 miles from Sochi, an easy walk through mountains they know only too well, for the Chechen rebels, while Moscow is 844.25 miles from Sochi. Russia couldn't protect the Dubrovka theater which is actually in Moscow from the Chechens (it also claims it couldn't protect two Moscow apartment buildings from them). Will it be able to protect remote Sochi, right in the the Chechen's back yard? Notice, too, Sochi's proximity to the Georgian border; Sochi is only barely in Russian territory. Even closer than Grozny is the disputed Kodori Gorge area, including Ingushetia, where Russia has already launched attacks on Georgian territory that are under UN investigation, and where Russia regularly faces terrorist outbreaks which could erupt into a shooting war at any time.

Question: Who will get to Sochi first for the Olympics, Chechen terrorists or Vladimir Putin?

Answer: Well, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we. Seems like the IOC is willing to gamble many people's lives on the answer. That doesn't seem quite consistent with the Olympic spirit. Perhaps they've forgotten Munich already . . .

* * *

Writing in the Moscow Times Igor Nikolayev, director of the strategic analysis department for the auditing consultancy FBK, has this to say about Sochi's financing:

The federal program for the development of Sochi's resorts from 2006 to 2014 was a strong factor in the city getting the XXII Winter Olympic Games. The government earmarked $12.2 billion for the Sochi Games. This is clearly a colossal amount of money and compares impressively to the spending of other countries. The total cost of the 2006 Games in Turin was 3.4 billion euros ($4.6 billion). Perhaps China's example was contagious for Russia: Beijing wanted the 2008 Summer Games so badly that it was willing to invest $33 billion to win the contest. While the development plan definitely leaves you with a positive impression, it is easy to get the feeling that some of the cost estimates were not well thought out.
  • The cost to construct the start and finish areas, the stands for spectators and journalists, and the snowmaking equipment for the downhill skiing center has been listed at 468,264,000 rubles ($18.2 million). It's as if a calculator came up with the number on its own.
  • The construction of a large hockey arena to seat 12,000 is budgeted at $220 million -- all of it federal money. The price tag for another arena for figure skating, which should hold 12,000 people, interestingly enough is just $55 million. Thus, the cost of building one arena is four times the cost of building another arena of the very same size.
  • Another example is an 8,000-seat, closed speed skating center that is projected to cost $42 million. Moscow's Krylatskoye speed skating complex, which holds 10,000, cost exactly twice that amount -- $84 million.

There is more than enough nonsense like this in the development plan to allow us to go on for a while, but the government has approved it all. This is a problem not only for the federal planners in Moscow but for Sochi itself. The government made the $12 billion price tag that it was willing to pay for the Games the main argument in its favor. But the least they could have done was take a serious approach to putting together the details of the development and funding program.

So Russia is already planning to spend nearly three times more than Turin, Italy spent to host the last winter games, and apparently its cost figures constitute a wildly low estimate.

In doing so, Russia will fill a region that is already patronized by Russia's rich and famous with investment, while the rest of the country languishes in poverty.

And then there's the little problem of the Chechen rebels which, as one can see from the following post, is not quite solved . . .


Kirill said...

Well so far the whole Krasnodar region seems to have done pretty well so far in terms of Chechen rebels. While he is a horrible human being, I am sure Mr. Kadyrov will ensure that no terrorist attacks occur during this time .....

Also, please don't publish laughable gems of journalism such as:
"The cost to construct the start and finish areas, the stands for spectators and journalists, and the snowmaking equipment for the downhill skiing center has been listed at 468,264,000 rubles ($18.2 million). It's as if a calculator came up with the number on its own."

What specific numbers would Mr. Nikolayev consider to be not made up by a calculator?

Also, Mr. Nikolayev doesn't seem to realize that occupancy =/= size or expense.

Sochi is a region that is in need of investment, as much of the infrastructure is outdated, and the Olympics will allow a modern alpine resort to be constructed.

I am not sure myself if Russia needed the Olympics, as they always lead to massive cost overruns and all other kinds of problems, but since Russia is now responsible for them, she might as well try to make them good.

La Russophobe said...

So far there hasn't been a target like the Olympic games, you cosmically stupid and pathologically dishonest weirdo.

Kirill said...

That comment doesn't make any sense. You commented that Sochi was close to Chechnya, to which I replied that there have not been any attacks in Krasnodarskii Krai. Whether there were any attacks at an Olympic Games prior is irrelevant. (Especially since some of us seem to be unaware of Eric Rudolph)

OstapR said...

Allowing the winter olympic games to be in Sochi is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. What were those IOC people thinking? I wouldn't rule out that they were threatened with a little 210Po.

Kirill said...

Apparently, most people aren't aware of the huge snow-covered mountains nearby. There are things to be said about this Olympics that are not positive, but location is not one of them. The IOC even commented on the unique location when they chose the city.

La Russophobe said...


Apparently some idiots are not aware that when tourists attend a WINTER games they want to see a WINTER village and hang out there. Sochi doesn't have snow. You are a witless ape. And if there are negative things to say, you certainly don't say them.

People don't go to WINTER olympic games to see the beach, you hopeless troll.

Your neo-Soviet arrogance in being utterly wrong while thinking you are utterly right, in failing totally whilst the rest of the world succeeds and you think you are cleverer than all, is truly pathetic.

Kirill said...

The IOC seems to think differently, so take it up with them.

The great La Russophobe has nothing further to say about no prior terrorists attacks on the Olympics?

La Russophobe said...


That is what we ARE doing, you abject moron. Why do you think we wrote this post, for YOU to read? HUNDREDS of people visit this blog each day. We influence them, they influence the IOC. See how it works, dimwit?

What are you talking about? Haven't you heard about the Munich games where Israeli athletes were taken hostage and ultimately killed? Do you think at ALL before you write?

Meanwhile, the whole point is that the IOC has never before been so STUPID as to put the games right in the backyard of a place like Chechnya. Dude, your brain needs serious work.

Kirill said...

la russophobe
So far there hasn't been a target like the Olympic games, you cosmically stupid and pathologically dishonest weirdo.

I then point out just one attack, you fail to correct your previous mistake.

Once I comment on that, you pretend you never said what you did in your first post, and accuse me of not knowing about terrorism at the Olympics.

The next step is that you are going to pretend that your first post was sarcasm. If it actually was, they you need to work on tone, as that did not come across right.

La Russophobe said...

We warned you. You are now banned from commenting on this blog.