Interview with Sergey Stepashin

Sergey Stepashin, the Head of Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation commented for Russia Today on the control of budget spending on the organization of 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Russia Today: How serious is the problem and what measures will be taken by your agency to ensure money reaches its planned target?

Sergey Stepashin: We already have some experience in controlling major national projects in spending budget funds. We will not re-invent the bicycle, I believe. The Accounts Chamber has an agreement with the Prosecutor General's office. The Chamber works together with law- enforcement agencies. The Treasury already works in a proper way. Frankly speaking, the problem of bringing funds to the end-user does not exist. We care more about the effectiveness of spending to avoid raising the cost of the projects, and land speculation, to ensure that the sites could be used after the Olympics. According to the Russian Constitution, the Accounting Chamber which controls budget spending, will first of all resolve these tasks, which we call the “effectiveness audit.” The tasks the President has set for the government, and the Prosecutor General's Office, will be certainly resolved, and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi will be organized and funded up to the best world standards.

RT: How dependent is the current budget of Sochi on federal funds? Would you describe it as sufficient?

S.S.: Yes, it is. There is $US 12 BLN in total – at least half comes from the budget. The International Olympic Committee will finance the games partially, and $US 6 BLN will come from the private companies, which are eager to work at the Olympic sites and which are highly profitable and self-repaying. Unlike the mid-1990s – the period I know well, as I was Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior then – we now have a partnership between the state and the business community. The President and the government will not have to make much effort to interest Russian and foreign investors. Austria has already offered to supply some of the world's best installations for skiing, certainly after winning a tender.

There are no budget problems nowadays. Russia is self-sufficient and has the biggest gold and exchange currency reserves in its history. We have two funds: the Reserve Fund and the Future Generations Fund. We also have state programmes.

Representing the Accounts Chamber, I can confirm that the words of  President Vladimir Putin in Guatemala are honest and true.

RT: The Russian President has asked the Prosecutor General's Office to keep an eye on the possible embezzlement of funds. How closely are you planning to work with the Prosecutor General's Office?

S.S.: We already co-operate closely with them. I have already mentioned that we have an agreement on co-operation with the Prosecutor General's Office. This year alone we conducted two joint board meetings – so we have some experience. The Prosecutor General's Office will join us in the cases of various violations of the law, if any. The Accounts Chamber, as in the work on the national projects, and in other controlled cases, is ready to provide the material. We have good experience together with the Prosecutor General's Office, working in the Amur region as one group. We will certainly use this experience, and the experience of the joint work with the Presidential Control Directorate, in keeping the budget spending on the Olympics under control.

Official websithe of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation