Putin sacks top Olympics official


Vladimir Putin fired a top Russian Olympics official yesterday after publicly ridiculing him on a visit to half-finished sports complexes planned for a winter Olympics dogged by reports of corruption and building delays.

The humiliation of Akhmed Bilalov (42) stamped President Putin’s authority over the 2014 Sochi Games and underlined the importance he attaches to a global event he hopes will show how far Russia has come since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

In a vintage performance, reminiscent of an all-powerful tsar sweeping through town in imperial times, Mr Putin became angry when he heard of the rising costs and construction delays at the ski-jump complex Mr Bilalov has been involved in.

Unsmiling and sarcastic, he unceremoniously scolded Mr Bilalov in front of television cameras at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday, then sacked him as vice-president of Russia’s Olympic Committee.

“How is it possible that the vice-president of the Olympic Committee is delaying development?” Mr Putin said after touring Sochi, which has become a huge construction site with the concrete carcasses of unfinished buildings hugging the skyline.

With Bilalov squirming in the background, he added: “Well done. You are really working well.” – (Reuters)