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Russian Opposition: Billions Stolen in Sochi Olympics Preparations

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (front L), International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge (C) and head of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko (front R) visit the stand displaying medals for the 2014 Winter Olympic Game
Russian businessmen and officials have stolen up to $30 billion from funds intended for preparations for next year's Sochi Winter Olympics, according to a report released on Thursday by opponents of President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, who has staked his reputation on a successful Winter Games, faces criticism over allegations of corruption and costs overruns that have pushed up the price tag for the event to $50 billion - five times more than initially planned.

“The main conclusion from the first chapter of our report is that, in preparing for the Olympics, $25-$30 billion were stolen,” Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov told reporters.

The report, written by Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk, another Putin critic, alleges that the most expensive sports complexes built for the Games were commissioned without competition or public tenders.

Government officials have previously dismissed reports of widespread corruption around the Games and have defended the cost overruns.