Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday told members of student construction brigades involved in building Olympic facilities in the southern Russian resort of Sochi of his student past.
Student construction brigades, or stroyotryads, were popular in the Soviet Union. They were temporary construction teams consisting of higher education students who received money for working at various locations during their vacations.
The practice of stroyotryads is being revived in modern-day Russia.
"I worked in the Komi ASSR [Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic] [now Komi Republic in northern Russia]. We repaired houses, and chopped down a glade for power lines; we worked about 12 hours [a day]," Putin said, adding that they used axes and chainsaws and the work was hard.
"I was an ordinary member [of the brigade] and got some 900 rubles for 1.5 months," he said, adding that the average monthly wage in the country at the time was 200 rubles.
One student said: "You probably did not know what to do with the money."
But the premier said: "We did know. We went with friends to Gagry [a resort city on the Black Sea in Abkhazia, then part of the Soviet Union] and happily left half of the sum there. And then I bought a coat and wore it for about 10 years. It turned out to be a good coat."
Another student asked Putin whether he had had a love affair during his youth in student construction brigades. Putin said: "I won't conceal [information] about love in stroyotryads. I will tell you about this on a separate occasion. Of course I did."
Asked what his favorite sport was, the premier said: "It's a big secret, but I'll tell you: judo and mountain skiing."
Putin is a judo black belt and an honorary president of the European Judo Union. He is also a co-author of a book entitled "Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin".
Sochi is to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. More than 200 sports and infrastructural facilities are to be built by the time of the Games. The cost of building the facilities and infrastructure for the Games is estimated at more than $30 billion.
The Russian resort city on the Black Sea won the right to host the Olympics at an International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Guatemala in July 2007 after a close race with South Korea's Pyeongchang and Austria's Salzburg.
Putin, a noted sports fan and participant, was the driving force behind Russia's successful bid.
He took the unprecedented step of delivering a speech in English at the IOC meeting in Guatemala to select the host city, and was credited with swaying delegates to vote for the southern Russian resort.
Russia has never staged the Winter Olympics and Moscow's hosting of the 1980 Summer Games was marred by a U.S.-led boycott involving more than 60 countries.
SOCHI, July 14 (RIA Novosti)