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Abkhazia’s Olympic breakthrough has been set back2009-03-02 10:02
Russia's preparations for the Sochi-2014 Games have been disrupted by the economic crisis. It has already enforced changes to the plans for Abkhazia's involvement in Olympic construction. However, neither Sukhumi nor Moscow can afford to lag behind the deadlines that have been set. After all, it's not just the economy involved in this project, but politics as well.
The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has called for greater urgency over the implementation of the Olympic project. "Delays in any area could cause a backlog throughout the entire project," he warned on 24 February at a session of the presidium of the Presidential Council responsible for the development of physical education and sport, and the staging of the Olympic Games.
As a result of the crisis, this year the Russian authorities are reducing their financing of Olympic construction by 33.2 billion roubles. The state corporation "Olimpstroy" will cover the deficit using funds which it did not spend in 2008. Furthermore, experts have reviewed the plans for the sports facilities, and by simplifying them, they have saved a further 7 billion roubles. As was reported at the session, 104 of the 185 facilities are still at the planning stage, and only three are already up and running. The Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Kozak, has in turn expressed concern over the fate of 20 facilities whose investors have not yet been determined.
So, in these times of crisis the Russian state has to reduce its expenses and therefore bring in private companies, which are also now experiencing financial difficulties. With this turn of events, Abkhazia is also having to adjust its plans. "Several projects connected with the Winter Olympics in Sochi have been offered to us, and there is every reason to imagine that Abkhazia can expect a genuine breakthrough in the near future," a high-ranking official in Sukhumi told Nezavisimaya Gazeta last October. Now Kozak has let it be clearly understood that, although Russia does not intend to turn down the supplies of building materials from Abkhazia, "this will be carried out by contractors, we will not be organizing this at a centralized level."
Before the "Olympic session", Abkhazia's Prime Minister Aleksandr Ankvab and Finance Minister Beslan Kubrava flew in to Moscow. The aim of their visit was to have meetings with the Russian government, where investment plans were meant to be discussed. Among them were those concerning the preparations for the Olympics, the deputy head of the Abkhazian government's communications directorate, Alkhas Cholokua, remarked in an interview with GeorgiaTimes.