Winter Olympics 2014: Deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak defends Pussy Riot treatment in Sochi

Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were described by Kozak as 'provoking conflict' following their attack by Cossacks

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak defended brutal police treatment of protest group Pussy Riot in Sochi, insisting at a media briefing on Saturday that they had provoked a conflict.

Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who served prison sentences after performing a protest song against Russia president Vladimir Putin in a church, were among five band members and a cameraman attacked by Cossacks as they performed under a sign advertising the Games on Wednesday.

Footage showed the Cossacks whipping the band members, pulling off their ski masks, and throwing them to the floor.

Kozak, speaking at the daily IOC/Sochi 2014 briefing, said of the incident: "The girls came here specifically to provoke this conflict.

"They had been searching for it for some time and finally they had this confict with local inhabitants - this hooligan act."

 

Security in Sochi was a major focus before the Games with the threat of terrorism a major concern following the attacks in Volgograd, when dozens were killed by two terrorist bombs.

Kozak, asked if he had been worried about a security breach at the Games, said: "We were certain that our security forces would be able to complete the tasks given to them.

"Security threats today are of a global nature, with terrorist organisations, so of course we were concerned about that.

"The Olympic Games became a target for the terrorists. But our law enforcement agencies and our special forces, in co-operation with all the countries of the world, all the special services in the world, including Great Britain, joined in the effort to prevent terrorism. All of us have fulfilled this task brilliantly."

Kozak was quizzed about the hefty price tag on the Sochi Games - estimated to be £30billion - and said the majority of the money was spent on infrastructure for the Sochi area.

He said: "The sport venues had to be built from scratch. Most of the money was spent on the infrastructure to modernise the city."

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Kozak, who said the real cost to Russian taxpayers was 3.5billion US dollars, also dismissed as "speculation" reports of corruption and embezzlement in relation to money spent on the Games.

"We had tough control over the budget money," he said. "According to the results of the investigation we didn't find any major incidents of corruption.

"We ask anyone who says that there is to provide specific fact of the corruption. If they do we will carry out investigations and, if proved, the culprits will be punished. But so far we don't have this informaton, so it's just speculation."

Asked about legacy for the Sochi 2014 sport venues and, specifically, the Iceberg Skating Palace where Russian athletes enjoyed notable success, Kozak said: "The policy was set in place some time ago, for all the sport sites.

"As for the Iceberg, the thought was to turn it into a cycling track. During the Games there was another idea - to use it as a centre for world ice shows that would attract athletes from all over the world.

"No single venue will be left without any use," he vowed.

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Sochi 2014 organising committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko, reflecting on the Games, said: "There was a great atmosphere in the Olympic Park, it was electric.

"I am glad Russians have supported all teams, not just Russian teams.

"We have almost reached the finish line but there are exciting events still ahead - the closing ceremony will be something special."

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli voiced his approval of Sochi 2014, saying: "What we have seen here has been of a very high level. Everything has run very smoothly."

IOC spokesman Mark Adams, asked about a letter from the Korean skating union requesting a review of the result in the ladies figure skating, when Kim Yu Na lost out to Russian teenager Adelina Sotnikova, said: "At this stage it's a matter for the skating union (the International Skating Union). They have their processes and relations. You'll have to speak to them but, from what I understand, the letter wouldn't trigger any investigations, as far as I understand it is a protest letter."

The ISU released a statement late on Friday in which it said it was "confident in the high quality and integrity of the ISU judging system".

Adams was also asked if the IOC was disappointed by the emergence of some doping cases in the latter days of the Sochi Games.

Germany's two-time winter Olympics gold medallist biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced on Friday that bobsleigher William Frullani had been sent home from the Games after testing positive for a banned stimulant. The four-man bobsleigh brakeman underwent testing at the Olympic Village on February 18 where traces of dimethylpentylamine - found in dietary supplements - were discovered.

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Adams said: "I can only confirm at the moment one case, which is the German case. There's a lot of speculation. It's really important that we don't jeopardise any of the cases that are in process or could be in process, so I won't comment any further apart from the one German case, which you know about.

"Of course it is always disappointing. It is always disappointing when we catch people. But what it shows, I think, is a determination to catch cheats. No one wants to see cheats here, it affects the credibility of the Games.

"As you know the president (IOC president Thomas Bach) said on many occasions we have a record number of tests here. Not just a record number of tests, more smarter testing, too.

"So we have something like 57 per cent more pre-competition testing than in Vancouver and something like 14, 15 per cent more tests in total. But it's much more targeted."

The IOC later confirmed that, as a result of Sachenbacher-Stehle's doping case, its disciplinary commission has decided to amend the results of the women's 12.5km mass start and mixed relay events.

Sachenbacher-Stehle, who originally finished fourth in the 12.5km mass start held on Monday, has now been disqualified. She was also part of Germany's mixed relay team which finished fourth on Wednesday, so the German team has also been disqualified from that event.

PA

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