There’s no room to swing a cat without running into a fresh corruption story coming out of Russia, and in fact, it’s become hard to impress the hardened cynics. But the latest public drubbing by the Audit Chamber of Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko, said to be “close to Putin” (although we hear that about everybody), is starting to rise above the noise.
Notably the 71-page report by the Audit Chamber over Russia’s debacle at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games focuses on the exceptionally high amounts of public budget squandered during Mutko’s 20 days in Canada – including five breakfast vouchers a day totaling nearly $5,000 for 97 separate breakfasts, and a total bill at a luxury hotel for $32,400. Of course Mutko wasn’t alone, but he has been made out as the public face of the Olympic farce, which saw $186 million invested in four years of training by unqualified personnel, resulting in a total of three gold medals. Additionally, state budget was tapped to fly over Yevgeni Plushenko’s girlfriend and other discretionary privileges, athletes and trainers racked up some $8,000 in parking tickets, among other embarrassing details.
This probe into Vancouver misappropriation is receiving a lot of attention, of course, given the extraordinarily large budgets being set forth for the games at Sochi … already one judge is facing corruption accusations related to land allocation.
On the one hand, it is good to see this kind of public scrutiny over the misuse of public funds – even if there appears to be a scapegoat action at work. That said, it is hard to imagine Mutko suffering any real consequences because of the Audit Chamber probe. Perhaps I have missed it, but have there been any real examples made out of officials who were punished and held accountable for major and legitimate corruption cases? Anything that went beyond dismissal from their post and unresolved court cases?