Steve Sailer: iSteve: What is Sochi all about?

One nagging question is why Vladimir Putin is spending a supposed $50 billion dollars to fix up the Black Sea coastal town of Sochi and a nearby inland mountain ski village to host the upcoming Winter Olympics. That's a huge amount for a Winter games, which are smaller in scale than the summer games that contributed so much to Greece's current debt problems.Putin's reasons no doubt include national pride and to allow his friends and supporters to skim tens of billions off the top of the construction budgets.But another reason appears to be to develop one of that vast but northerly country's most southerly, mild, palm-lined, and scenically-varied regions into a world-class four-season resort and retirement destination for Russia's ruling class, where they can't be arrested by Russia's rivals. Many of Russia's biggest pre-Putin criminals have fled to safe havens in London, New York, the South of France, and the like, where they occupy themselves owning major league sports franchises and so forth. But Putin and his current oligarchs figure that the Washington-New York-London axis will look less approvingly on their crimes than on those of their predecessors. So, they'd better have a nice, warm place within Russia to retire to. Czarist and Soviet rulers used to have resort homes in the Crimea (e.g., Yalta), but that beautiful, mostly Russian peninsula got handed to the Ukraine on 1/1/1992. Stalin had a second home south of Sochi on the Black Sea, but that's now in Georgia.

So, Russia's latest rulers need a new, improved dream destination. Hence, the huge investment in Sochi.

That also helps explain some of the Western anger over the Sochi Olympics: the development of Sochi is intended to reduce the threat of Western countries taking Russian leaders prisoner some day, which reduces Western influence over Russia.