Stepashin Says Sochi Costs Are Spiraling

Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin on Tuesday warned that costs for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are spiraling to double the amount planned.

Russia was awarded the games last year, with an ambitious plan to build almost all the necessary facilities from scratch at the Black Sea resort, including an elaborate light-rail system leading from the seaside ice-sport venues to the snow sports locations in the Caucasus Mountains 50 kilometers to the east.

The construction projects are part of a 314 billion ruble ($12.8 billion) "federal target program" to develop Sochi as a world-class resort area. The government has said it will contribute 185 billion rubles ($7.5 billion), with the rest coming from private investors.

But Stepashin told a committee at the Federation Council that "the figures that were stated earlier have doubled," Itar-Tass reported.

"Now it is extremely important to present a report within two months regarding the costs for preparations for the games," he was quoted as saying.

Officials of the Sochi organizing committee did not have any immediate comments on Stepashin's statement.

Olimpstroi, the state corporation formed last year to prepare for the 2014 games, and has been headed by former Transneft president Semyon Vainshtok since last fall.

Sochi was one of the Soviet Union's most popular vacation spots, but development has not kept pace with Russia's general post-Soviet economic boom. Its lack of facilities and substandard infrastructure was seen as one of the bid's potential weak points, but strong government support proved persuasive to International Olympic Committee members.