Russia city risks hosting World Cup next to prison
One of Russia's World Cup host cities has yet to solve the problem of the future of two prisons that are currently next door to the stadium that will host the football matches in the 2018 tournament, officials admitted Wednesday.
The Urals city of Yekaterinburg, the most easterly of Russia's World Cup hosts, needs to move the prisons because their presence will clearly be jarring for the thousands of foreign fans expected to attend games.
But the Sverdlovsk region -- whose main city is Yekaterinburg -- acknowledged that there is not enough money in its budget for the costly relocation of the prisons.
"There is not enough money in the budget of the Sverdlovsk region to move the prisons from the area that will host the World Cup," the regional government spokeswoman Elena Voronova told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
She said that the regional government was now in talks with the federal authorities to receive extra budgetary means to move the prisons.
The head of the regional prisons service had earlier complained that nothing was being done beyond talking about moving the prisons.
"A certain amount of funds are being handed out to host the World Cup," said Sergei Khudorozhkov, quoted by the local Ural.ru news agency.
"If the authorities give the money to build a new prison at their own expense, then we will be glad to move our people over," he said, estimating the cost of building a new prison at 3 billion rubles ($100 million).
The authorities would have to start work building a prison this year if there is to be any chance of the inmates being moved in time.
It is not clear whether Yekaterinburg could still host the competition if the prisons stay where they are. Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said after the 11 host cities were announced in September that the prisons would have to be moved.
Pre-trial detention centre Number One and prison colony Number Two both lie on Repin Street on the western edge of central Yekaterinburg, adjacent to the stadium.
Rather than building an entirely new stadium, Yekaterinburg is planning to expand and renovate its existing facility whose proximity to the prison has amused rather than bothered Russian football fans until now.
The issue also highlights the massive challenge Russia faces in developing infrastructure for the World Cup in provincial cities that have developed much more slowly than Moscow after the fall of the USSR.
Related England News