News / Europe

Russian Billionaire's Dog Shelter Helps Putin's Olympics

Olympics volunteers sit near two stray dogs outside the Gorki media center in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, Jan. 30, 2014.
Olympics volunteers sit near two stray dogs outside the Gorki media center in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, Jan. 30, 2014.
Reuters
A Russian billionaire who has invested heavily in the Winter Olympics has found a novel way to help Vladimir Putin stage a successful Games - by funding a shelter for Sochi's stray dogs.
 
Oleg Deripaska's gesture could help save hundreds of dogs that are in danger of being rounded up and destroyed as the host city on the Black Sea tries to clear them off the streets.
 
It could also help keep Deripaska in Putin's good books after speculation over the dogs' fate threatened to undermine the Russian president's hopes of using the Games to portray Russia as a tolerant, modern state.
 
“You don't see what's going on here [in Sochi]?” Sonya Turpyetkina, a veterinarian, said of the treatment of the many dogs that roam free. “I keep seeing poisoned bait. This is repulsive, they are dying in horrible pain.”
 
She is a volunteer at the shelter funded by Deripaska at Baranovka near Sochi. As she spoke to Reuters at the shelter, he was visiting the site, showing a group of people around.
 
The shelter houses only about 40 dogs in basic pens, but city officials say such protection offers the animals a chance of finding a permanent owner and home.
 
A Sochi city official said no healthy dogs were being killed in the city even though a local company says it has a contract to round them up, and the International Olympic Committee also has said only sick and dying dogs are being destroyed.
 
But animal rights activists have launched a campaign to save the dogs, which has attracted negative publicity to Sochi and appears to have prompted Deripaska to step in.
 
He has been quoted as saying he has loved dogs since he was a boy. But his act is far from his first that could be beneficial to the Games, which he says he believes can turn Sochi into a thriving modern resort.
 
Putin's patronage
 
Deripaska's company Basic Element has said it invested $450 million on the renovation of Sochi's airport, and $187.5 million on a nearby cargo port which will be turned into a smart marina.
 
It also said investment on the Olympic village and a residential complex for the Olympic Family and members of the International Paralympic Committee had exceeded $750 million.
 
Underlining that he sees such funding as an investment and not a charity, the 46-year-old executive was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency on Monday as saying: “Sochi, at least for our group, will not be a loss-making project.”
 
Deripaska, a former physicist who came to control RUSAL, the world's largest aluminum company, is also building a highway in the area.
 
He estimates that each Olympic project needs a further 10-15 percent investment to ensure its success, even though the Games are widely expected to cost more than $50 billion.
 
He and other rich businessmen in Russia, often referred to as oligarchs, are well aware of the danger of falling out with Putin.
 
More than a decade ago, Putin clipped the wings of the tycoons who amassed political influence as well as vast riches in the 1990s and made clear they should not step out of line.
 
One of the oligarchs, former Yukos oil company chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 after falling out with the president and later jailed on charges of tax evasion and money laundering.
 
At the time, Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man. He was finally released less than two months ago, following a pardon by Putin. ($1 = 34.8117 Russian roubles)

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid