Taimuraz Bolloev is charged with ensuring venues and infrastructure for the 2014 Games is delivered on time and budget (Olympstroy)
The IOC dismisses fears that the massive construction effort for the 2014 Winter Games is lagging behind schedule following another change in leadership at the company overseeing the building program in Sochi.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appointed Taimuraz Bolloev, the founder of the Baltika beer company, as president of Olympstroy on Saturday. He replaces Viktor Kolodyazhny, becoming the third man to hold the post since the state-controlled entity formed in Nov. 2007.
The former mayor of Sochi was only in the job 14 months; his predecessor lasted less than six months.
“His appointment should allow the construction projects for the Games to continue seamlessly, as he has been acting president of Olympstroy for the past few months,” IOC spokeswoman Sandrine Tongue tells Around the Rings.
Kolodyazhny’s non-appearance in meetings with the IOC Coordination Commission when it visited Sochi four weeks ago stoked rumors he had been fired. But Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Putin’s troubleshooter in charge of Olympic preparations, refuted the suggestion at the press conference that concluded the IOC’s two-day inspection.
Responding to an ATR question on the matter, Kozak claimed Kolodyazhny had not been fired but was on holiday. “He is still working on the project,” he said at the time. Kozak also serves as chair of Olympstroy’s supervisory board.
It emerged over the weekend that Bolloev has been acting head of the state corporation for the past two months; Kolodyazhny was said to have been dealing
with private matters.
Sochi 2014 officials said he stepped down for personal reasons. But a member of Sochi's Public Chamber, quoted in the Moscow Times, described Kolodyazhny as a poor manager,
claiming he was dismissed because of his inability to run Olympstroy effectively.
Before moving to Olympstroy, Bolloev was chairman of the BTK Group after spending 13 years building up the Baltika beer company.
Putin urged the 56-year-old beer tycoon, a native of North Ossetia, to pay attention to costs and the pace of construction for Sochi 2014 when he named him to the job over the weekend.
“I would like to ask you to pay special attention to ensure that the schedule of all construction work is fully respected and the conditions of people working on construction are taken care of, as well as fulfilling the social rights of citizens who will be relocated and managing the costs of the venues to be constructed,” Putin was quoted in a Sochi 2014 statement.
Commenting on the appointment, Kozak described Bolloev as “one of the top managers in the country”, expressing confidence that he was the right man for the job. Kolodyazhny received similar praise from Kozak when he replaced Semyon Vainshtok as head of Olympstroy last year.
Vainshtok stepped down amid accusations of mismanagement and cost overruns.
Bolloev has pledged to “work tirelessly” to deliver Olympic construction projects on schedule.
He will have the chance to show the “great progress” he says has been made when he meets with Killy, head of the IOC watchdog for the Black Sea resort, and Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli in July.
The IOC officials were supposed to visit this month to witness the start of construction on Olympic Park venues at Imeretinskaya Valley on the Sochi coastline. Venues being built in the coastal cluster include the 40,000-seat main stadium, Olympic village and main press center.
But the visit is now expected to take place next month.
All sports venues will be under construction by the end of the year.
Viktor Kolodyanzhny lasted only 14 months as president of Olympstroy (ATR)
Russia is spending some $13 billion on developments for the Games and the regeneration of the Krasnodar region.
Last month, Killy said the size of the task facing Russia to prepare for the Olympics should not be underestimated, adding that “time is not a luxury that we have to play with on this project.” But he said a lot of progress had been made across all areas of the Olympic venture since the commission visited in April 2008.
Meanwhile, Sochi 2014 leaders are pushing ahead with plans to secure all top tier sponsors by the time of the Vancouver Olympics next February. A Sochi 2014 spokeswoman tells ATR that an automobile sponsor will be announced by the end of June. An apparel partner will also be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Three top tier sponsors are already in place. Rostelecom and Megafon joined as telecommunications partners, Rosneft has filled the oil category and Sberbank the banking slot. Still vacant are apparel, automobile, metallurgy, gas, airline and insurance. With reporting from Mark Bisson.For general comments or questions, click hereYour best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.