'Don't judge the victors,' Russian Deputy PM says of Sochi's Olympic readiness

Posted by William Douglas on February 6, 2014 


A color guard raises the Olympic flag inside Olympic Village at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.

BRIAN CASSELLA — Chicago Tribune/MCT

— Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak resorted to a Russian saying Thursday when commenting on the torrent of criticism surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in subtropical Sochi.

After days of stories about shoddy accommodations, unfinished buildings, a deadly stray dog roundup, and allegations of corruption that ballooned the costs of the Games beyond $50 billion, Kozak offered simple advice to reporters.

'As we say in Russia, 'Don't judge the victors,'' he said in Russian at a press conference.

English translation: 'Haters gonna hate.'

In a question-and-answer session that at times sounded like a State of the Union address, Kozak said Russia knew it was in for outside criticism surrounding the Winter Olympics but quickly added the Sochi is prepared to host the games, which officially opens Friday.

'We are trying to react quickly and deal with the admonitions coming,' Kozak said. 'We are not neglecting the criticism.' 

Kozak said Sochi is ready security-wise against terrorist threats. He had 'no answer' to reports out of the United States that terrorists may try to disrupt the games with explosive contained in toothpaste tubes.

'Security level in Sochi is equitable with New York, London, Boston and any other world spot as terror threat has no limits,' he said.

The deputy prime minister praised the Olympic construction effort in Sochi, calling it a successful massive public works project that has transformed this Black Sea summer resort town into major winter sport destination that will become a year-round upscale vacation area. 

'Due to the city's modernization, more than 60,000 people will get new jobs,' Kozak said. 'We are expecting a higher flow of tourists this year. Sochi is going to be a high class all year round resort.'

But the building up of Sochi has come at a price, one that some Russians and international watchdog groups say is too high. Exceeding an estimated $50 billion, the 2014 Winter Olympics are the most expensive Olympics in history.

Critics say the cost has been inflated by corruption and cronyism. Kozak balked at the claims.

'Concerning corruption, and other things, you know there's a presumption of innocence,' he said. 'If there are charges of corruption it should be proven legally. I can't say anything about corruption because nothing has been proven legally.'





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