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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sochi Promised Power Increase

Itar-TassGref taking to the slopes on Sunday at a ski resort in the North Caucasus.
Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref pledged Tuesday to double the power supply in Sochi, which is vying for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Gref's announcement came a week after the Black Sea resort was struck by twin blackouts and two weeks before International Olympic Committee members are to visit the city.

The committee must choose from among Sochi; Salzburg, Austria; and Pyeongchang, South Korea. Its decision will be announced July 4.

Gref, speaking Tuesday at a news conference at the ministry, added that all other Olympics-related wrinkles would be ironed out in the coming months: Passengers will be able to use a new terminal at the airport in nearby Adler, modern sports facilities will be completed and ecological concerns about protected lands will be resolved.

"We are sure that we will be the favorite of the three cities," Gref said. Gref is one of the most senior government officials working on the Sochi bid.

Olympics officials pledge that nearly $12 billion will be spent over eight years, from 2006 to 2014, in preparation for the Olympic Games. Of that, 60 percent will come from the government; private investors will pay for the rest.

Members of the IOC evaluation commission arrive in Sochi on Feb. 18 to tour the Olympic facilities.

The day before, Anatoly Chubais, head of Unified Energy Systems, is scheduled to visit the city to sign a contract with local authorities securing expanded electricity supply in the Krasnodar region, where Sochi is located, Gref said.

The new electricity plans, which are to be completed by the end of the week, include two new power stations, which will not only double capacity for the city's 400,000 residents but also power all Olympic facilities and 11 new hotels, Gref said.

Turning to the Olympics facilities, Gref said 90 percent of the construction had been completed and the remainder would be finished by the IOC visit.

As for the environmental concerns raised by Greenpeace and other groups, Gref said the law would be amended to enable construction to move forward.

Sections of a bobsled track and a hydroelectric plant are slated to be built in the Sochi National Park. The amendment would make room for land-lease contracts, allowing construction to take place without requiring the park to give up jurisdiction. Under current law, no building on protected land is allowed.

Gref made few comments about the airport beyond saying the minor details that need to be worked out would be dealt with. Metals magnate Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element group owns the airport terminal; the federal government controls the runways.

Russia appears to be taking its cue from London, which managed to win the right to host the 2012 Summer Games only after last-minute lobbying from Prime Minister Tony Blair and football star David Beckham.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly voiced support for Sochi's bid. On Tuesday, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also threw his support behind the effort.

"We are a great sporting power that has brought huge investments into the Olympic movement, but despite that we have never staged the Winter Olympics," Gorbachev said, Interfax reported.

Also Tuesday, Russian Olympic Committee chief Leonid Tyagachyov said in an interview that Russia had not and would not send Olympics spies to take a peek at what's going on in Salzburg and Pyeongchang.

But the former Olympics skier did get in a jab at Russia's rival in the Far East. Noting that he had spent the winter lobbying for Sochi at ski events in Europe, he said: "I can tell you, not many of the competitors want to go to Korea."