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Medvedev orders corruption investigation into Putin's Sochi Olympics

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into allegations that a top Kremlin official took huge bribes in connection with the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Analysts are unsure whether it's a sincere crackdown.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev chairs a session of the National Projects Council in Moscow's Kremlin, July 29. Medvedev has ordered an investigation into allegations that a top Kremlin official took huge bribes in connection with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

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In an apparent bid to dramatize his flagging anticorruption drive, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has taken the unusual step of ordering an investigation into allegations that a top Kremlin official took huge bribes in connection with the troubled 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

To drive home his point, Mr. Medvedev jotted down his order on a copy of an article from the crusading opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which published details of the scandal in June.

The Novaya Gazeta story focuses on Vladimir Leshchevsky, deputy of construction in the Kremlin's Office of Presidential Affairs – a vast empire that owns about $500 billion worth of former Soviet Communist Party property. It alleges that he took about $5.7 million in kickbacks from the Moskonversprom consortium of construction companies in connection with the renovation of two Kremlin-owned Sochi area sanitoriums.

"To really fight corruption he would have to fire [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin, who is at the center of the Sochi Olympic scandal, but that's not going to happen," says Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a leader of the liberal opposition who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Sochi in polls last year that some criticized as Kremlin-manipulated. "So he orders an investigation of Leshchevsky, a nobody. It's just a PR action."

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