Putin: Russia to be transformed by WCup, Olympics

AP, Thursday 16 Dec 2010

The 2018 World Cup will ramp up the quality of life in Russia so much that it will help reduce crime and make the nation healthier, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual question-and-answer session with the Russian people in Moscow (Photo: AP)

Putin also said the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will bring the kind of infrastructure to the southern Black Sea resort that it might never have seen otherwise.

It was Putin's personal goal to bring both sporting events to Russia as part of a wider drive to raise the country's prestige abroad, and he sold their benefits to the nation during his annual call-in show.

Russia is spending at least $10 billion on dramatic upgrades to infrastructure in 13 cities to prepare to host World Cup matches, but despite the huge spending, the locals will reap the rewards for years to come, Putin said.

"There will be less crime, less drug-taking," Putin said. "In the end it's an integrated, exclusively positive influence on the future of the country." Of the World Cup facilities, including a dozen new or revamped football stadiums, Putin noted: "All this will be left to the people, and will serve them for decades. It will facilitate a healthy way of life." The World Cup represents a "powerful development of all the infrastructure in the country's European territory," Putin said.

Russia is also remodeling Sochi from a tacky Soviet-era vacation resort to a Monaco-style destination of glamor and glitz in a project estimated to cost more than $30 billion in preparation for the 2014 Winter Games.

Putin conceded that if it weren't for the Olympics, the region may have remained neglected.

"I hate to say it, but we might never in 100 years have done what we are doing now _ or maybe we would never have done it," Putin said. "Roads, gas pipes, new electricity stations.

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