MOSCOW, April 27 (R-Sport) - The former head of the ski jump construction project for next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi said Saturday he has been poisoned with mercury, and Russian police have told RIA Novosti they are prepared to investigate.
Akhmed Bilalov was publicly censured by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month over delays and cost overruns during his time in charge of the RusSki Gorki ski jump complex.
He has since fled to Germany with his brother. Russian authorities have claimed he misspent millions of dollars while in charge of a state-owned firm, Northern Caucasus Resorts.
Reports in the Russian media cited Bilalov as saying mercury had been found in his blood, and the website gazeta.ru cited an unnamed source close to Bilalov as saying traces of the metal were present at a Moscow office where he used to work.
Russian police told RIA Novosti they would investigate the claims if Bilalov made a formal complaint.
“Bilalov obviously can turn to the law enforcement bodies with the relevant application,” an Interior Ministry spokesperson said. “It will be looked into in the specified manner.”
The beleaguered Bilalov was removed from his role as vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee in February.
Bilalov has been under investigation for at least a month. In early March, prosecutors claimed he had appropriated about $2.6 million from Northern Caucasus Resorts to charter flights to France and England, as well as a helicopter flight from a hotel to an airport in the United Arab Emirates.
Another investigations concerns claims that $97,000 in company funds were spent on unnecessary accommodation and transport costs.
Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said last month that investigators from the FSB security service, the police and the Rosfinnadzor state audit agency were probing Bilalov.
The ski jump he oversaw is one of the few Sochi 2014 facilities to experience significant delays in building. Some minor test events were postponed last spring when construction work went overdue.