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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Allays Fears Over Sochi Land

President Putin last week moved to allay fears that new legislation governing development for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi would see local residents forced off their land.

Speaking during his televised question-and-answer session with the nation Thursday, Putin responded to concerns raised by one Sochi resident about the effects of large-scale construction projects on the city.

"All questions connected with the use of land must be decided with full consideration for the interests of the people living there," Putin said.

On Oct. 16, the State Duma approved in a first reading a bill designed to facilitate the development of the region and the construction of Olympic projects.

The bill will considerably shorten the length of time that is needed for government to claim land intended for Olympic developments and limit the right to appeal for citizens affected.

Despite assurances that any inhabitants forced to leave their homes will be relocated and compensated, critics argue that the new legislation violates the citizens' basic rights and will leave local residents out of pocket.

Originally introduced by the United Russia party, the bill had to be to amended to specify the location and time period for the legislation. Now a clause has been inserted restricting the legislation to the Sochi area and setting a time limit until 2014.

Since the announcement in early July of Sochi's successful bid to hold the games, property prices in the Black Sea resort have skyrocketed.

"I personally, of course, understood that prices on land would grow many times over," Putin said.

Putin also emphasized that two-thirds of the $12 billion earmarked for Sochi's development would be spent on building up the infrastructure of the region and said construction work would not prevent tourists from visiting the resort.

"Of course, we do not intend to close the town," Putin said.

Companies chosen to work on the Olympic developments will be selected on a cost and quality basis irrespective of their country of origin, Putin added.