TIME olympics

Russia Pushes Back Against Sochi Complaints

Russian security forces patrol the streets as preparations continue for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor
Russian security forces patrol the streets as preparations continue for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor Feb. 6, 2014. Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Officials say the city is safe and that amenities are in working order

Russian officials stepped up efforts Thursday to dispute reports of poor conditions at hotels in the Olympics host city of Sochi and to tamp down security fears.

Dmitri Kozak, a Deputy Prime Minister, pushed back against complaints from journalists in Sochi that their hotel rooms are in miserable condition, the Wall Street Journal reports. Kozak said Thursday that with 100,000 guests staying in Russian hotels, there have been only 103 registered complaints (though he didn’t say what constitutes a registered complaint). He also awkwardly alluded to possible government surveillance of hotel rooms in arguing that some Westerners are purposely sabotaging Sochi’s image. “We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day,” he said before an aide stopped a reporter from asking further questions, the Journal reports.

Kozak’s comments came after members of the media covering the Olympic Games quickly began posting complaints on Twitter about the condition of their rooms this week.

Russia is also working to combat the narrative that many world leaders are staying away from the Olympic Games in Sochi. Dmitri Chernyshenko, a top organizer of the Games, said Thursday that a record number of 65 world leaders are attending, the Associated Press reports, though the International Olympic Committee puts that number significantly lower. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are among several high-profile world leaders not attending the Games, which got under way Thursday before the opening ceremony on Friday.

(MORE: Sochi 2014: Snowboarding, Skiing and Skating Ring in the Games)

And Kozak looked to calm fears of a potential terrorist attack on Thursday, saying Sochi is as safe as any other city in the world. “There is no reason to believe that the level of danger in Sochi is greater than at any other point on the planet, be it Boston, London, New York or Washington,” he said.

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