Published November 20, 2014
Russia's top investigative body opened a criminal probe Wednesday into alleged misspending of millions of dollars on preparations for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The Investigative Committee said it is looking into the allegations of fraud that cost the state $7.5 million. It didn't name any names, but said the probe will look into allegations of abuses by officials of the Sports Ministry.
However, sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the ITAR-Tass news agency not much will come of the investigation.
"Believe me, there won't be a single criminal case over preparations for Vancouver," he said. "It's a transparent thing."
Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The country, a traditional sports powerhouse, won only three gold and 15 total medals in Vancouver, putting the investment cost of each medal at $12.4 million. Russia spent five times less in Turin in 2006, when it won eight golds.
Government auditors in July cited dozens of examples of money being wasted, saying the figure ran into millions of dollars. President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the audit after the poor results in Vancouver, which cost many top sports officials their jobs.
In an example cited, Mutko charged 97 breakfasts to the Russian taxpayer during his 20-day stay in Vancouver. Why he would need five breakfasts per day — costing $4,500 in total — went unexplained.
Mutko rejected the audit's findings in comments carried by the Russian media. He has kept his job despite expectations of his departure.