Putin Taps Bosses for Pushkin, Sochi Cash

Itar-TassKozak gesturing before a meeting where he spoke on Olympic preparations.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday called on business to assist with a dramatic expansion of a leading museum as he praised industry leaders for plans to spend more than $1 billion in preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts will receive 4.5 billion rubles ($190 million) from the state through 2012, when it will mark its 100th anniversary, Putin said, adding that more investment was planned by 2015. Putin said he was counting on help from business and charity organizations.

"The Pushkin Museum is really suffocating from the shortage of premises, technical capabilities," he said, speaking before the full Cabinet at its first meeting since the creation of the Presidium, a group of Putin's deputies and key ministers.

Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said the shortage of exhibition space was so dire that the museum currently displays just 3,000 of its 640,000 items, or less than 0.5 percent. Speaking after the meeting, she announced plans to expand the museum into "a good museum town in the center of Moscow for all of Russia."

Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev said that under the three-stage development plan, the museum's premises would grow to 125,000 square meters, from 20,000 square meters now. "It'll be the size of an entire street block," he said.

Many businesses have been making donations in recent years in an apparent attempt to be seen by the Kremlin as good corporate citizens. Access Industries, Vneshekonombank and Bosco Di Ciliegi are among the museum's sponsors this year.

Putin also praised the business community for its work to prepare for the Sochi Olympics, including plans to invest in 59 infrastructure and tourism projects. Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak said the support would save the state 33 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) on Olympics preparations from 2009 to 2011.