60 world leaders to attend Sochi Olympic Games

MOSCOW, Feb. 6 (PNA/ITAR-TASS) — A total of 44 world leaders will attend the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games Russia will host in its Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Wednesday.

Overall, some 60 world leaders will attend the Olympics, to be held February 7-23, Dmitry Peskov said live on the Kommersant FM radio, adding that the figures could be adjusted later.

Peskov said it is nearly impossible now to book a room in Sochi. “Everything has been booked,” he said, adding that 6,000 athletes and team members from 88 countries are expected to attend the Games.

Peskov pledged that Russian special services would ensure security at the Games. “All that had to be done to ensure security has been done,” he said.

The spokesman said Putin had already commented on the issue while answering questions from journalists in the Olympic village.

“I can say in brief: 100 percent [security],” he said, adding that Russian security services have a great experience of holding large-scale international events. He also said special services are working in close coordination with the International Olympic Committee and contact similar agencies from other countries.

Speaking about assistance proposals from foreign special services, Peskov said Russia appreciates them.

“But our services are absolutely competent and capable regarding ensuring security of any territories of our country,” the spokesman said.

Expenditures on Olympic facilities and hotels will not be repaid soon, but the government is interested in providing assistance to the facilities’ operators, he said.

Peskov admitted that cases of embezzlement during the construction of Olympic facilities are possible and invited those who “are crying” about embezzlement in Sochi to come to the city and see the results of the construction with their own eyes.

“Come to Sochi… And you will answer [that question] yourself — at least far from all money was embezzled,” he said.

Peskov said the construction in Sochi could not be “sterile.” He said big construction projects are always accompanied by rumors about corruption. The volume of corruption in the European Union officially recognized by EU leaders reached 124 billion euros in 2013, he said.

The European Commission said in a statement on Monday: “Corruption continues to be a challenge for Europe. Affecting all EU member states, corruption costs the European economy around 120 billion euros per year.”

“Member states have taken many initiatives in recent years, but the results are uneven and more should be done to prevent and punish corruption. These are some of the conclusions from the first ever EU Anti-Corruption Report published by the European Commission,” it said.

Peskov asked rhetorically: “Do you think it is possible to imagine that Russia is a sterile country or that the mega-construction project in Sochi is sterile compared to the rest of the world?”

He warned against making a judgment on the scale of alleged embezzlement, as “we are not judges, and are just not entitled to.”

The spokesman dismissed the idea to establish a gambling zone in Sochi saying it was “out of line with the spirit and image of a high-quality resort.”

Stray dogs will not hinder the Olympics, Peskov also told Kommersant FM.

“Sochi really has many stray dogs, there are more of them than in other cities of the country,” he said. The presidential spokesman explained the phenomenon by the fact that the number of animals increases at all large construction sites as builders feed them.

“And when the builders leave, the dogs have nowhere to go,” he said. (PNA/Itar-Tass)