February 6 - Vladimir Putin today toured Sochi to inspect the facilities being constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and claimed he was satisfied overall with the progress as Russia prepared tomorrow to celebrate the one year to go countdown.
His confidence that Sochi will host a successful Games was shared by Jean-Claude Killy, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordination Commission.
"It's difficult to believe that the promises you gave in Guatemala in 2007 have become the reality," Killy said, referring to Putin's speech at the IOC Session six years ago which is widely credited with winning Sochi the Games.
"The work you have done is exceptional.
"There are few countries in the world that would be able to fulfill such programme in six years."
But there remain concerns over RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, being built in the village of Esto-Sadok on the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge, which is massively over budget and behind schedule.
Its cost has soared to $265 million (£163 million/€189 million) from the original budget of $40 million (£26 million/€30 million).
The К-95 and К-125 jumps are ready but the rest of the complex still needs to be finished, which is scheduled for July.
"Today the experts say that 80 per cent of the work is finished,'' Killy told Putin through a translator.
"Still there is one object that requires more efforts to be concentrated on it: It is the ski jump facility, and you know that.''
Adding to Putin's anger over the situation is that the facility was originally being built by a company owned by Akhmed Bilalov, a vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), before Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, took over the project.
"Cost increases are possible during construction - but they must be justified," said Putin, who also held a meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge, who is in the Black Sea resort to take part in tomorrow's celebrations.
"The most important thing is making sure that no one stole anything - so that there is no groundless rise in cost.
"I very much hope that despite all the technical difficulties, everything will be commissioned on time."
Also casting a cloud over the celebrations was a scathing report from the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) campaign group published today that accused Russian officials of abusing migrant workers during the buidling of the venues.
The 67-page report chronicled cases of workers being cheated of wages and having their passports and work permits confiscated so they were held virtual prisoners.
The report, titled Race to the Bottom: Exploitation of Migrant Workers Ahead of Russia's 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, is based on interviews with 66 migrant workers employed in Sochi from 2009 to 2012.
"Exploiting workers is a victory for no one, and Russia urgently needs to change course," associate Europe and Central Asia director Jane Buchanan said in a statement.
Dmitry Kozak, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister who is overseeing Sochi's preparations, denied the level of abuse claimed by HRW.
"It would be impossible not to have them [incidents of abuse] with so many [construction sites], but they are not taking place on a large scale," he said.
Russia's Federal Migration Service (FMS) has estimated that 74,000 people are involved in construction of the Olympic facilities, including 58,000 Russian nationals and 16,000 foreigners.
Olympstroy, the state corporation in charge of construction for Sochi 2014, claimed that it had performed some 1,300 inspections, but workers had not complained on the level alleged in the report.
"All construction sites have information posted in different languages about the legal establishments that can be addressed with complaints, including telephone numbers," said a spokesman for Olympstroy.
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