Dmitry Kozak is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
“The appointment of a devoted deputy prime minister demonstrates that the Olympic project is a national priority and is great news for Sochi 2014 and the governance of the project,” said Chernyshenko in a statement.
“It is a reflection of the importance of Sochi 2014 to Russia that the government has made the decision to create a new role exclusively focused on Olympic preparations.”
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday promoted Dmitry Kozak, 49, regional development minister, to oversee the project amid fears that the massive construction effort for the Games could be hurt by the global financial crisis.
Medvedev announced the decision after meeting with Putin, who reportedly proposed creating the post following discussions with IOC officials at last week's project review in Moscow.
Kozak, who only last week warned that the credit crunch might rebound on the Sochi Olympics if investors withdraw from the project, is “one of the best crisis managers in Putin's team”, according to one Russian analyst. The eighth deputy prime minister in the Russian government is a close Putin ally. He already serves as a member of the Supervisory Board of the Sochi Olympics.
Kozak is charged with ensuring venue and infrastructure projects don't fall behind schedule; Russia is spending some $12 billion on developing the Black Sea resort for the Games. He will work closely with the Sochi organizing committee and Olympstroy, the state corporation responsible for Olympic constructions headed by former Sochi Mayor Viktor Kolodyazhny.
Last week, Chernyshenko told ATR the economic downturn was not affecting the project but indicated that it might impact preparations in the months ahead.
He offered similar
assurances today. “We look forward to working with the new deputy prime minister and continue the progress we have made to date. Sochi 2014 is firmly on track and within budget and particularly in the mountains we are already seeing resorts really taking shape,” Chernyshenko said.
Last week, the IOC's co-ordination commission chair Jean-Claude Killy and Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli met with 2014 organizers for a two-day project review. They finalized the venue plan for the 2014 Games and also backed revised proposals to reduce the number of train lines and width of the road linking the coastal and mountain clusters.
With reporting from Mark Bisson
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