31 january 2009

Vladimir Putin met with IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy

Vladimir Putin

Meeting with IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy on preparations for the 22nd Winter Olympic and 11th Paralympic Games in Sochi

"This work is among our top priorities not only because it is preparation for Olympics but also because it is a comprehensive plan for the development of southern Russia, so Olympic and developmental goals fully coincide in this sense."

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

I am glad to see you in Sochi again. This is the fifth time IOC experts are visiting Sochi to see how the work is progressing. This outside professional opinion is essential for us to make necessary corrections in due time.

We are closely monitoring the work, and meet every deadline. Construction and assembly will start this year on all projects without exception.

There are 20, even 21, ongoing projects, and they will be ready for test competitions by 2012.

We finished the initial start-up complex of the railway freight yard last year to accept up to 5 millions tonnes a year of construction materials and equipment. Another start-up complex, for an annual 14 millions tonnes, will be ready this year.

We will soon start work at the Sochi cargo seaport, which means we will be ready with practically the entire logistic infrastructure for mass-scale construction.

As you know, a combined railway and highway system are among the principal infrastructural projects. We intend to start building the first tunnel in spring.

The initial stage of a settlement for building construction workers is being completed. Seventeen out of the total 19 houses that will accommodate 3,000 are ready. Hotel construction and expansion is also going on. One of such projects is under reconstruction in Loo.

We are paying special attention to human rights in the context of our Olympic efforts. Proprietors are entitled to compensation for their land in keeping with market prices. We have determined to offer them a choice between ready housing, new land plots, or monetary compensation, and have amended the Olympic Law accordingly.

You know how considerate we are of the environment. Our Olympic blueprints are ecologically sound. The Russian Government has adopted an ad hoc programme for the environmental aspects of preparations for the 2014 Olympics. On expert insistence, we have shifted the sites of three key Olympic projects from the buffer zone of the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve. Everything has been coordinated on the whole, as far as I know. We are meeting all deadlines, too. Together with the World Wildlife Fund we have established a public environmental council representing relevant government agencies and environmental organisations.

I want to stress that, despite global financial and economic problems that are also affecting Russia, whatever concerns the Olympic project in the broad sense is protected by relevant budget items with guaranteed funding. None of the Russian and foreign investors-we have foreign investors, too-have given up initial intentions, mainly due to the high investment potential of the Russian south, particularly the Krasnodar Territory.

Federal budget allocations to related purposes amounted to 113 billion roubles in 2008, plus an additional 127 billion in 2009. As you know, we have adopted a three-year budget and necessary sums are earmarked for every subsequent period.

This work is among our top priorities not only because it is preparation for Olympics but also because it is a comprehensive plan for the development of southern Russia, so Olympic and developmental goals fully coincide in this sense.

I want to thank you for your cooperation and I look forward to more detailed discussions today and in the future to see what should be done and how to step up our team efforts.

Jean-Claude Killy (as translated): I have no objections to what Mr Putin has said, as our experts have confirmed it all today. They have worked here for a week and received a very warm reception. Both parties have displayed the utmost confidence and transparency.

We thank you for establishing a real team that can cope. The people engaged in the many fields of this work are also excellent-in particular, expert geologists who have the reputation of being among the best in the world.

The Preparatory Committee has organised a presentation for us to shed light on issues of shared interest-by this, I am referring to environment protection. I find the project perfectly feasible despite its difficulty. It will demand great efforts to protect flora and fauna and dispose of waste, but I think the project can be implemented. Experts have made certain suggestions, but they are unessential, even marginal. We can discuss them later.

The city is changing beyond recognition, a fact that is evident even from the air; one can see the construction of the cargo seaport and approach railway tracks-really a gratifying sight.

The main idea is still what we have mentioned-to create an unprecedented Olympics, especially because you have determined not to go any farther into the valley. Olympics have never been held along a railway line. As I told Mr Kozak today, there are no obstacles to hosting the Olympics that would make the world gasp.

We have also talked about blueprints for a loop road around the city. It is a beautiful project, and we are eager to visit the site. We are deeply impressed, I must say.