A $30 million splurge on Putin’s daughter’s favorite sport

News Hour

Russia is building a $30 million complex for acrobatic rock’n’roll, a niche sport in which President Vladimir Putin’s daughter is a leading dancer and has a senior role for development, a Reuters review of public documents has shown.

The Zhavoronki Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll Center will be built on the western outskirts of Moscow at a cost of 1.9 billion roubles, according to state tender documents available online, and will be funded by the municipal government.

It will be the only specialized facility in the world for the sport, according to governing body the World Rock’n’Roll Confederation (WRRC). The money being invested dwarfs that spent on some other, bigger, sports in Russia such as archery and biathlon.

The complex is being built for the Moscow City Khamovniki state sports and dance school, where Katerina Tikhonova – identified by Reuters last year as Putin’s youngest daughter – was trained in acrobatic rock’n’roll and for which she competed several times until 2014. (here)

The 30-year-old is a top Russian acrobatic rock’n’roll dancer, a vice president at the WRRC, and also a senior official in the sport’s national federation, chairing its international committee and committee for Russian regional development. Her former dance coach heads the Khamovniki school.

Reuters has no evidence the Kremlin or Tikhonova had any influence over the Moscow city government’s decision to build the complex.

Tikhonova, the Moscow city sports department and the Russian Federation of Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll did not respond to repeated requests for comment about Tikhonova’s role in the project or its expense.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This topic does not have any relation to us.”

The Moscow city construction department said the complex was part of a wider program of state-funded sports facilities that were important for the city.

“Moscow attaches great importance to building sports facilities. Over the past five years in Moscow the number of new sports facilities being brought on-stream has effectively doubled,” the department said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Around 9,000 people actively participate in acrobatic rock’n’roll in Russia and organizers aim to add another 3,000 people by 2020, according to the national federation.

By comparison, more than 22,000 people actively participate in archery in Russia but only 21 million roubles of state money will be spent developing the sport this year, according to the Russian Archery Federation.

The federation said there was no specialized center of any kind in the country for archery, a sport in which Russia won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in August.

Around 19,000 people participate in biathlon in Russia, according to the Russian Biathlon Union, but the body does not receive any state funding.

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