The number one international story on Friday was the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. It is an event that will consume foreign policy thinkers and conspiracy theorists for a long time. Many a good story starts with a murder in Moscow but this one with its scope and depth of intrigue and names associated with it promises to provide everyone with plenty to ponder and talk about.
There is little doubt the public role Nemtsov played in relation to the issues confronting Russia did not play a pivotal role in his death. More precisely they were why he was targeted for death by those who feared him.
In June of 2013 Nemtsov gave an interview to The Atlantic that underscores for everyone to see (below) how he used his platform to focus attention on the graft in President Putin’s Russia. His latest efforts to showcase the level of Russian involvement in Ukraine was more than Putin could abide.
The fact there is no real political opposition allowed to function at a governing level in Russia–and can never be allowed under Putin–makes this story all the more distressful.
You write in your report that so far, $50 billion has been spent on the Olympics, whereas originally, the application for Sochi had a figure of $12 billion. In your estimates, the expenditures have quadrupled because half of them went to corrupt pay-offs and kick-backs. But perhaps it’s because from the outset, not all the climactic conditions were taken into account in the cost?
It’s actually about another issue. Back at the stage of preparing the application and planning, it became clear that it would not be possible to build all the infrastructure in Krasnaya Polyana — the gorge is too narrow, and therefore it was decided to bring everything down to the Imeret Lowlands. In fact, this is a huge swamp in which is located the flood lands of the Mzymta River. There is a well-known fact that even back in the times of Stalin, they tried to measure the bottom of this swamp. It turned out that even at a depth of 170 meters, there were still no firm layers. That is, to construct some sort of buildings on this soil is simply madness, they will all slide. That’s the first point.
As for the appraisal of the costs, we saw how the expenditures in the Winter Olympics in other countries grew; everywhere the final total is approximately double the original stated sum. Let us suppose this is a universal principle, then the cost of the Olympics should be $24 billion [twice the originally cited amount of $12 billion], but in Russia it is $50 billion. That means it is logical to suppose that $26 billion are bribes and embezzlement. In order to confirm this supposition, we decided to calculate how much was spent on average per fan. That is a more objective indicator because stadiums are different everywhere, infrastructure as well, but expenses per fan are everywhere approximately at the same level. What happened in Russia? The average “price” per fan at an Olympics stadium throughout the world is $6,000, but at the Fisht Olympics Stadium in Sochi, it is $19,500 dollars, that is triple the cost!