Putin (r) lambasts Dmitry Kozak
President Vladimir Putin was cold as an Russian winter to Winter Olympics chiefs and sacked a top official during an inspection.
All-powerful Putin was irked by sluggish construction and rocketing costs of the RusSki Jump centre at the Sochi resort, on the Black Sea.
That meant that government Olympic chief Dmitry Kozak got a distinctly frosty reception from his boss, in front of the cameras.
Confronting the humbled Games chief, Putin scolded Kozak for rocketing costs and also deployed a hefty dose of sarcasm to heap humiliation on the squirming apparatchik.
Putin appeared angry that ski jump costs had ballooned to eight billion roubles, from a budget of a 1.2 billion roubles.
Kozak told him that construction was being run by a firm owned by the boss of the Olympic Committee himself, one Khmed Bilalov.
"Are there any cost overrun?" asked Putin.
"Yes a serious increase in costs," replied a shuffling Kozak. "But since they use their own funds for construction..."
He did not get to finish his reply. The president interrupted with a curt, "Whose own funds?"
Bialov's ensuing answer failed to sate the president's wrath in front of the watching media andalso revealed that a bank was liable for the bill. Point made, Putin concluded the conversation with a slice of sarcasm.
"So the guy [Bilalov] is vice-president of country's Olympic Committee? And he is doing that kind of job, dragging the project backwards. Two billion has turned to eight billion?!
"Well done, great work fellows. Let's move on."
Russian media reported later that Bilalov lost his job. The footage of the exchange provided viewers with a piece of theatre, which helped bolster Putin's claim to be getting tough on corrupt officials who drain wealth from Russia.
Russian President Putin later moved to quell worries about the Games, which start in one year's time. "I do hope that despite all the technical difficulties, everything will be commissioned on time," he said.
Organisers of the Sochi Games claimed that 85 percent of buildings are complete. Sochi will be the first winter Olympics to take place in the sub-tropics. The snow events shall take place in mountains just 15 minutes away from the beach.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: