In another potential setback for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russian authorities announced they will have to temporarily house dozens of convicts in Sochi hotels until a new prison is built.
The government said it doesn’t expect visitors and athletes will be bothered by the prisoners, who will be held at three of the hotels reserved for foreign athletes and visitors.
“Visitors to the Winter Olympics should not worry about their safety, as the prisoners will be confined to their rooms and not allowed to attend the games,” according to a statement from the Ministry of the Interior.
“Russian-language signs will be posted in each hotel so guests will know where their room is and where the prisoners are located. We expect everything to go very smoothly.”
Russian officials demolished Otkryty Dver prison, located 10 miles outside Sochi, to make room for a multi-billion dollar ice rink. However, construction of a new prison for the inmates was overlooked and is not scheduled to begin until March, after the Olympics end.
The arrival of the prison inmates -- whose crimes reportedly range from theft and burglary to armed robbery and murder -- may be another problem for the Olympics in Sochi, which has been criticized for widespread corruption and poor preparation.
Journalists have already reported on the many embarrassing problems in their hotels, such as unfinished construction, urine-colored water, faulty electrical wiring and strange bathrooms.
However, the local Olympics committee insisted there was no problem putting dangerous inmates next to foreign visitors, noting that prison officials were taking advantage of the available rooms.
“We trust that guests will enjoy their stay in Sochi without any problems,” according to a committee statement. “Russia is known for treating its prison inmates humanely, so guests should do the same and everything will be fine.
“We are committed to presenting the best Olympics that $50 billion and counting can buy.”