Connect with us

Latest

News

World Cup 2018

The story behind FC Zenit’s twelve year construction saga of Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg

How Zenit Arena has become the symbol of corruption.

Published

on

1,399 Views

In March 2005, the governor of St. Petersburg Valentina Matvienko and CEO of Gazprom Alexei Miller announced a joint decision to begin the construction of a new ultramodern arena for 50,000 spectators on the Krestovsky island. It was assumed that the construction works for new home for FC Zenit (Zenit Arena or Krestovsky Stadium) would last for three years.

Nobody knew at the time that three years of planned work could easily have turned into twelve.


How did the construction costs increase?

In April 2008, the media began to mention a 70% increase of the initial cost. At the current rate, it was almost $900 million.

Four years later, in October 2012, an increased figure of 43.8 billion rubles was announced, which at the current rate was over $1.4 billion.

Today, in 2017, we can only imagine how great the final cost of the stadium is. That is taking into consideration the difference in rates throughout the years, the sanctions that have influenced the cost of materials and also the permanent rise in prices because of the financial crisis in Russia.


Which stadiums could have been built in St. Petersburg instead of the stadium on Krestovsky?

5 PPG Paints Arenas – where the Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins host their matches:

4 CenturyLink Fields – a sacred place for fans of the MLS champions Seattle Sounders FC and the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL

12 Allianz Stadiums – the home of Juventus Football Club, the most successful club in Italian soccer history

Moreover, Zenit Arena is $200 million more expensive than the famous U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Super Bowl LII will be held next year.

Finally, it’s hard to believe that Zenit Arena has the same construction cost as, perhaps, the most discussed stadium of the last month in North America – the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. On September 16, 2017, Atlanta United played an MLS regular season match versus Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 70,425 spectators, the largest crowd in a stand-alone MLS match.


Why the time and costs suddenly began to grow?

Federal laws against the stadium…

In January 2010, the government suddenly introduced new federal laws for firefighting. The forced reconstruction of the dome of the arena with the replacement of materials, as well as the reconstruction of fire escape stairs, required new investments and an increase in terms for almost a year.

Customer is late, constructors are in a hurry…

In January 2011, the documentation for the redevelopment was received by the builders three months later than expected, so the builders, who hurried to start the work, faced the need to dismantle the roof of the future stadium.

Sudden decision about changing the project…

In October 2011, the St. Petersburg Government Construction Committee approved a new design for the roof exactly two months after the start of work.


What kind of scandals surrounded the construction of Zenit Arena?

FIFA’s dissatisfaction…

FIFA representatives returned a verdict about the stadium’s inconsistency with the organization’s standards five times

The anger of the PM…

Dmitry Medvedev shared his opinion on the progress of construction in 2012: “This is not just a long-term construction, it looks shameful.”

Slave labor and death of workers…

According to the Norwegian magazine “Josimar” 110 North Korean builders had worked on the Zenit Arena. As stated by the Russian lawyer Olga Zeitlina, those laborers lived in terrible conditions and were completely exhausted both mentally and physically. Passports were confiscated in order to prevent them from escaping.

Officially at least ten workers were found dead, but the exact figure remains unknown.

The stadium is more important than hospitals…

The City Governor’s Office approved a plan to reallocate funds for the completion of the stadium and the surrounding infrastructure. For this purpose, $45 million was allocated from the state budget which was intended for schools, cultural facilities, and the healthcare system.

Cormorants are destroying the stadium…

According to Igor Albin, the vice-governor of St. Petersburg, the protective layer of the stadium roof could withstand up to 400 kilograms per square meter, but could not cope with cormorant attacks. This required a new full-fledged defense structure for the arena’s roof.

The stadium is dangerous for the health of spectators and athletes…

Specialists from the Ministry of Health found that the content of ammonia and formaldehyde in the locker rooms and halls was exceeded. Toxins were being given off from the materials that were used to finish the premises. The reason lies in the concrete and additives that were used during the winter period construction.


What strange things were taking place during the construction of Zenit Arena?

The Kremlin oligarchs’ unexpected successes…

In 2013 the Construction Committee of St. Petersburg and Oleg Deripaska’s company Transstroy, which was responsible for the construction works on Krestovskiy island, terminated the contract. In two months Transstroy won the bid for the second time, and the city government re-signed the contract.

Bids for nonexistent works…

In 2014, the bid for the creation of an artificial land plot around Krestovsky island for the construction of an “invisible stadium” for the 2018 World Cup was shelved. The estimated amount of allocated funds was $39 million. The number of similar undisclosed initiatives remain unknown.

Suspended criminal cases…

In 2015, an investigation into an embezzlement case of $2.5 million by one of the subcontracting parties was terminated due to the statute of limitations expiring.

The disappearance of the scoreboard from Zenit Arena…

In 2016, the Investigative Committee and the St. Petersburg Economic Police launched large-scale searches of $2.5 million that were intended for the installation and exploitation of a scoreboard.


What kind of incidents took place in the stadium?

  • The vibration of the field exceeded the permissible limit by seven times
  • The wind damaged the roof of the stadium twice
  • Cracks in the concrete walls were found several months before the opening
  • The stadium was flooded two times, so some parts of it were covered in mold


Who is in the dock?

Only one official!

According to the investigation, the vice-governor of construction Marat Oganesyan ensured the illegal involvement of a subcontractor in the construction of the stadium. The result was the plundering of more than $866,000 through one-day companies.

From 2004 to 2010, Marat Oganesyan led the “Soglasie Group” company, which was engaged in the reconstruction of the buildings of the Moscow Kremlin and built the trade and hotel complex “Moscow City”.


Who is suspected by media?

In 2013, the press vigorously discussed the report of the Control and Accounting Chamber of St. Petersburg. As soon as this report was made public the authorities classified this information as confidential. A number of well-known names disappeared from the final version of the document, among them:

Governor Valentina Matvienko, who signed the draft law on the allocation of more than $164 million for a new contractor – Inzhtransstroy. She holds the post of speaker of the Federation Council.

Vice-governor Roman Filimonov, who lobbied for large-scale project changes and increasing the costs. Today he holds a high position in the JSC Russian Railways.

Vice-governor Alexander Vakhmistrov, who was responsible for solving the issues of capital construction and reconstruction of real estate objects. Now he is the coordinator of the “National Association of Builders”.

The name of the chairman of the Construction Committee Vyacheslav Semenenko was mentioned so often in corruption cases on Krestovsky island that his resignation, according to the Media, was the result of scandals around the arena. However, instead of a criminal case, the official was appointed to the Administration of the governor of St. Petersburg.


How is the arena functioning after the opening?

The case of the Krestovsky Stadium remains the most discussed sport topic of the day in Russia.

The reasons why Zenit Arena is not ready to host matches at the highest level are the following:

The overdraft of the construction of a pitch that could roll out beyond the stadium for special events. Today it is not functioning, as the FIFA media center is built near the stadium, which interferes with the construction. The imminent transfer of the media center will require an additional $7 million.

  • The unique roof does not close or leaks when it is raining
  • Zenit FC was forced to change the lawn two times during the last six months. For example, in April the grass rotted due to improper use of the insulation system. It was switched on at night for a month, but should be used only 4 hours per day.
  • Memes regarding the unfinished state of the stadium and its leakages became the most popular segment of the Russian web in the first half of 2017.


Why the construction on Krestovsky island is a sad verdict for Russian realities?

For the last twelve years the country has been living in some kind of reality show, where each episode only confirms how logical the season finale is, but new participants and sensational incidents allow people to believe in an unexpected ending.

Big businesses, officials, rascals from one-day companies and sport giants felt the ground for new frauds, lost a sense of the measure. For them it’s only possible in the reality show called «Russia».


The ghastly saga of the Zenit stadium serves as a supreme example of the sort of things that still go wrong in Russia.

In the twelve years since the project was launched it has become a feeding trough for an unholy collection of profiteers and blunderers. Big prestige projects like this often attract corruption in many countries but the failure of the Russian authorities to get a grip on it in this case, the lack of transparency and basic accountability, and the protection offered to privileged and sometimes corrupt insiders speaks for itself and shows that Russia has still not put the ghastly realities of its corrupt past entirely behind it.”

The Russians actually are not bad at carrying out big construction projects. It depends very much on who is involved. If the project is run by the central government then it runs a reasonable chance of being completed without the timetable or budget suffering from excessive cost overruns.

Projects run by local governments – like this one – are a wholly different matter.

In this case I suspect that part of the problem was that Matviyenko, the mayor of St. Petersburg who initiated the project and who is an exceptionally steely character (she is an outside possibility for Putin’s successor), was over focused on a large number of other gigantic infrastructure projects in the St. Petersburg area, of which the huge dam built to protect St. Petersburg from floods (talked about since the 1950s but only actually built under her) was just one, and as a result she lost focus on the stadium.

Matviyenko then transferred to Moscow in 2011 to become Chair of the Federation Council, leaving her much weaker successors to sort out the mess. They would have been no match to Oleg Deripaska, the tough oligarch who is behind the stadium project.

That points to the nature of Russia’s problems. It is not Germany where people can be left alone to do things properly by themselves. On the contrary if things are to be done properly they require the unremitting attention of those in charge.

As the Russians say themselves, the country works only on manual not automatic.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

FBI recommended Michael Flynn not have lawyer present during interview, did not warn of false statement consequences

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

Via The Washington Examiner…


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn’s office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered the agents “a little tour” of his part of the White House.

“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”

The agents had, of course, seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with Russian then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,'” the Flynn memo says, citing the FBI 302.

“One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and ‘clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,'” the Flynn memo says, again citing the 302.

Later in the memo, Flynn’s lawyers argue that the FBI treated Flynn differently from two other Trump-Russia figures who have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for making false statements. One of them, Alexander Van der Zwaan, “was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” according to the memo. The other, George Papadopoulos, “was specifically notified of the seriousness of the investigation…was warned that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense’…had time to reflect on his answers…and met with the FBI the following month for a further set of interviews, accompanied by his counsel, and did not correct his false statements.”

The message of the sentencing memo is clear: Flynn, his lawyers suggest, was surprised, rushed, not warned of the context or seriousness of the questioning, and discouraged from having a lawyer present.

That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.

In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.

The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.

In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Macron offers crumbs to protestors in bid to save his globalist agenda (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 36.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Macron’s pathetic display of leadership as he offers protestors little in the way of concessions while at the same time promising to crack down hard on any and all citizens who resort to violence.

Meanwhile France’s economy is set for a deep recession as French output and production grinds to a halt.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via Zerohedge


As if Brussels didn’t have its hands full already with Italy and the UK, the European Union will soon be forced to rationalize why one of its favorite core members is allowed to pursue populist measures to blow out its budget deficit to ease domestic unrest while another is threatened with fines potentially amounting to billions of euros.

When blaming Russia failed to quell the widespread anger elicited by his policies, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to appease the increasingly violent “yellow vests” protesters who have sacked his capital city by offering massive tax cuts that could blow the French budget out beyond the 3% budget threshold outlined in the bloc’s fiscal rules.

Given the concessions recently offered by Italy’s populists, Macron’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to challenge the bloc’s fiscal conventions. As Bloomberg pointed out, these rules will almost certainly set the Continent’s second largest economy on a collision course with Brussels. To be clear, Macron’s offered cuts come with a price tag of about €11 billion according to Les Echos, and will leave the country with a budget gap of 3.5% of GDP in 2019, with one government official said the deficit may be higher than 3.6%.

By comparison, Italy’s initial projections put its deficit target at 2.4%, a number which Europe has repeatedly refused to consider.

Macron’s promises of fiscal stimulus – which come on top of his government’s decision to delay the planned gas-tax hikes that helped inspire the protests – were part of a broader ‘mea culpa’ offered by Macron in a speech Monday night, where he also planned to hike France’s minimum wage.

Of course, when Brussels inevitably objects, perhaps Macron could just show them this video of French police tossing a wheelchair-bound protester to the ground.

Already, the Italians are complaining.  Speaking on Tuesday, Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said Italy hasn’t breached the EU deficit limit. “I repeat that from the Italian government there is a reasonable approach, if there is one also from the EU a solution will be found.”

“France has several times breached the 3% deficit. Italy hasn’t done it. They are different situations. There are many indicators to assess.”

Still, as one Guardian columnist pointed out in an op-ed published Tuesday morning, the fact that the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) organizers managed to pressure Macron to cave and grant concessions after just 4 weeks of protests will only embolden them to push for even more radical demands: The collapse of the government of the supremely unpopular Macron.

Then again, with Brussels now facing certain accusations of hypocrisy, the fact that Macron was pressured into the exact same populist measures for which Italy has been slammed, the French fiasco raises the odds that Rome can pass any deficit measure it wants with the EU now forced to quietly look away even as it jawbones all the way from the bank (i.e., the German taxpayers).

“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University. “Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”

While we look forward to how Brussels will square this circle, markets are less excited.

Exhausted from lurching from one extreme to another following conflicting headlines, traders are already asking if “France is the new Italy.” The reason: the French OAT curve has bear steepened this morning with 10Y yields rising as much as ~6bp, with the Bund/OAT spread reaching the widest since May 2017 and the French presidential election. Though well below the peaks of last year, further widening would push the gap into levels reserved for heightened political risk.

As Bloomberg macro analyst Michael Read notes this morning, it’s hard to see a specific near-term trigger blowing out the Bund/OAT spread but the trend looks likely to slowly drift higher.

While Macron has to fight on both domestic and European fronts, he’ll need to keep peace at home to stay on top. Remember that we saw the 10Y spread widen to ~80bps around the May ’17 elections as concerns of a move toward the political fringe played out in the markets, and the French President’s popularity ratings already look far from rosy.

And just like that France may have solved the Italian crisis.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Watch: Democrat Chuck Schumer shows his East Coast elitism on live TV

Amazing moment in which the President exhibits “transparency in government” and shows the world who the Democrat leaders really are.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency was because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – against Democrat policy decisions and “stupid government” in general.

One of the reasons President Donald Trump is reviled is because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – in the American political scene.

In other words, there are two reactions to the same characteristic. On Tuesday, the President did something that probably cheered and delighted a great many Americans who witnessed this.

The Democrats have been unanimous in taking any chance to roast the President, or to call for his impeachment, or to incite violence against him. But Tuesday was President Trump’s turn. He invited the two Democrat leaders, presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and then, he turned the cameras on:

As Tucker Carlson notes, the body language from Schumer was fury. The old (something)-eating grin covered up humiliation, embarrassment and probably no small amount of fear, as this whole incident was filmed and broadcast openly and transparently to the American public. Nancy Pelosi was similarly agitated, and she expressed it later after this humiliation on camera, saying, “It’s like a manhood thing for him… As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”

She didn’t stop there. According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Queen Bee took the rhetoric a step below even her sense of dignity:

Pelosi stressed she made clear to Trump there isn’t enough support in Congress for a wall and speculated the President is refusing to back down because he’s scared to run away with his tail between his legs.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild,” Pelosi said of the Oval Office meet, which was also attended by Vice President Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

This represented the first salvo in a major spin-job for the ultra-liberal San Francisco Democrat. The rhetoric spun by Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was desperate as they tried to deflect their humiliation and place it back on the President:

With reporters still present, Trump boasted during the Oval meeting he would be “proud” to shutdown the government if Congress doesn’t earmark cash for his wall before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.

Pelosi told Democrats that Trump’s boisterousness will be beneficial for them.

“The fact is we did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi said. “That was an accomplishment.”

The press tried to characterize this as a “Trump Tantrum”, saying things like this lede:

While “discussing” a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: “we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”

While the Democrats and the mainstream media in the US are sure to largely buy these interpretations of the event, the fact that this matter was televised live shows that the matter was entirely different, and this will be discomfiting to all but those Democrats and Trump-dislikers that will not look at reality.

There appears to be a twofold accomplishment for the President in this confrontation:

  1. The President revealed to his support base the real nature of the conversation with the Democrat leadership, because anyone watching this broadcast (and later, video clip) saw it unedited with their own eyes. They witnessed the pettiness of both Democrats and they witnessed a President completely comfortable and confident about the situation.
  2. President Trump probably made many of his supporters cheer with the commitment to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall funding. This cheering is for both the strength shown about getting the wall finished and the promise to shut the government down, and further, Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be “proud” to shut the government down, taking complete ownership willingly, reflects a sentiment that many of his supporters share.

The usual pattern is for the media, Democrats and even some Republicans to create a “scare” narrative about government shutdowns, about how doing this is a sure-fire path to chaos and suffering for the United States.

But the educated understanding of how shutdowns work reveals something completely different. Vital services never close. However, National Parks can close partly or completely, and some non-essential government agencies are shuttered. While this is an inconvenience for the employees furloughed during the shutdown, they eventually are re-compensated for the time lost, and are likely to receive help during the shutdown period if they need it. The impact on the nation is minimal, aside from the fact that the government stops spending money at the same frenetic pace as usual.

President Trump’s expression of willingness to do this action and his singling out of the Dem leadership gives the Democrats a real problem. Now the entire country sees their nature. As President Trump is a populist, this visceral display of Democrat opposition and pettiness will make at least some impact on the population, even that group of people who are not Trump fans.

The media reaction and that of the Democrats here show, amazingly, that after three years-plus of Donald Trump being a thorn in their side, they still do not understand how he works, and they also cannot match it against their expected “norms” of establishment behavior.

This may be a brilliant masterstroke, and it also may be followed up by more. The President relishes head-to-head conflict. The reactions of these congress members showed who they really are.

Let the games begin.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending