May 01, 2009

Olympian Drama



sochi, russia’s resort town and future location of the 2014 Summer Olympics, is becoming an arena for political games and ego-boosting campaigns as some two dozen candidates competed in the city’s mayoral race, set for April 26.

The most likely winner was acting mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, appointed this winter after his predecessor suddenly quit to “take care of his health.” Boris Nemtsov, a Sochi native who has fallen out of favor with the Kremlin and is now one of the leaders in the Solidarnost party, registered for the race and has already faced two scandals: an unidentified youth splashed his face with ammonia, and an inexplicable wire transfer of money into his bank account nearly disqualified him. Calling the transfer a Kremlin provocation, Nemtsov wired the money back where it came from: Brighton Beach.

Another oppositionist, businessman Alexander Lebedev, lately known for his acquisition of a British newspaper, proclaimed on his blog that he will solve the growing city’s housing problems and hold a referendum on whether the Olympics should still take place in Sochi or be spread among several Russian cities. He too received a suspicious bank wire on the day he registered, from “three Sochi teenagers,” and wired the money back, fuming.


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