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ROTTERDAM, August 21 -- Photographer Aleksandr Belensky has documented what many observers feared.
Despite spending more than 50 billion US dollars on the Sochi Olympics, Vladimir Putin has left Sochi not the vital place he promised but a ghost town where there are almost no tourists and where much of the infrastructure is already decaying.
Belensky’s pictures tell his story, but he provides brief commentaries for each of them, and they too are instructive. He notes that it isn’t the case that there is no one about. One can sometimes see three or even as many as five people if one looks closely. “But the place is lifeless and isn’t working at even five percent of capacity.”
In the places built for the Olympics, he notes, “there is simply nothing to do,” and there are no people doing anything. In one five-story parking garage, “there wasn’t even a single car … the only thing being parked there are broken toilets.” And the people who are in evidence are clearly locals: they are doing crossword puzzles rather than looking at guide books.