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RFE/RL Reports: Corruption, Cronyism and Crackdowns

The Fisht Olympic stadium (L) and a mosque (R, front) are seen under construction in Sochi, the host city for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, 24Apr2013
Political corruption is not a new story, but these recent RFE/RL reports expose the heights to which it reaches and the risks for those caught up in the process.

# Russian opposition figure and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov says up to $30 billion has been stolen from funds allocated to next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, and in an interview with Radio Svoboda, says President Vladimir Putin's cronies running the operation "are a real threat to Russia's national security." (Also from Radio Svoboda: Construction workers from Chechnya at the Sochi Olympic sites express their discontent with the construction company management, saying they are not paid on time and are discriminated.)

# The Kyrgyz parliament is calling for the ouster of nearly a dozen high-ranking officials who they say orchestrated the release of a Chechen criminal boss from jail. Aziz Batukaev was freed from a Naryn prison and flown to Chechnya in April after Kyrgyz officials ruled he was suffering from leukemia and required urgent medical treatment. But Kyrgyz lawmakers now say Batukaev's illness was a ruse, and have even presented pictures of the crime boss smoking and enjoying a sumptuous meal while in prison. Correspondents Zairbek Baktybaev and Daisy Sindelar report.

# The U.S.-based NGO Human Rights Watch has slammed Azerbaijan for arresting political opponents on spurious drugs charges in the run-up to the country’s October presidential election. As correspondent Robert Coalson reports, Baku is not alone in using such tactics to muzzle dissent.

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