Medvedev denies making Sochi proposal

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has denied that Sochi, the Russian city that is to host the Winter Olympics next year, could become the next zone where the Russian government permits gambling. 

According to the Kommersant newspaper, Medvedev made the suggestion at a meeting earlier this week as the government seeks ways to offset the massive losses expected to be made by investors who have put large amounts of money into the development of Sochi ahead of the Olympics.

With a price tag of over US$50bn, the Sochi games are set to become the most expensive Olympics of all time. Businessmen and state-owned companies have reportedly sought state assistance to pay back loans taken out to pay for projects they have committed to in Sochi.

A committee has been set up to consider the Prime Minister’s proposal and will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Kommersant reported. The Russian government banned gambling in Russia in 2009, restricting the industry to just four designated zones across the country.

Medvedev has denied proposing turning Sochi into a gambling zone, however. A spokeswoman for the Russian Prime Minister said that there has been no proposal to turn Sochi into a gambling zone. “The prime minister did not put forward the idea of creating a gambling zone in Sochi. The idea was suggested by a member of the banking community,” spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.

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