chapter  1
20 Pages

Introduction

How Putin’s political system led to Olympic corruption, military adventurism, and state-sponsored doping
ByRobert W. Orttung, Sufian N. Zhemukhov

Two puzzles stand at the centre of this book. The first examines what the 2014 Sochi Olympics tell us about the development of Russia. As Russia’s leader and the individual who was the main driving force behind the games and the person most closely associated with them, President Vladimir Putin has chosen to cultivate Russia through a variety of mega-projects, of which the Sochi Olympics is the most important example. These mega-projects necessarily concentrate state and private resources for a specific purpose while assigning a lower priority to other goals. What are the consequences of such a development policy and what does it mean for Russia’s future? Our argument here is that the path that Putin chose facilitated widespread corruption, the development of extensive security forces, and a crackdown on civil society. These are the defining features of the Putin era and key components of the Sochi games.