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Latest update : 2012-06-08

Ukraine: Who benefits from Euro 2012?

Ukraine has invested billions in hosting the Euro 2012 tournament. But faced with shady construction firms, contracts obtained without calls for tender and costly renovations, some are wondering where the money for Euro 2012 really went.

Ukraine has spent over 10 billion euros on preparations for Euro 2012, half of it taxpayers' money. But opposition groups, such as Ukrainska Pravda, denounce the lack of transparency in awarding contracts and insist that fraud has taken place. They claim, for example, that a contract was awarded to a construction company that is registered in Cyprus.... The government denies any corruption.

Besides, Ukrainians can see the elite's increasing wealth for themselves. The president owns a luxury home in Mezhyhyrya, outside Kiev. The general feeling is that Ukraine's entire political class - even former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, currently in jail - is corrupt.

Like many Ukrainians whom we met, the workers on the Kiev stadium are angry. They told us they had been paid pitifully little, or late, or not at all. Few of them agreed to speak on the record - for fear of being beaten up, or worse, they said.

But even as they rail against alleged corrupt spending on Euro 2012 preparations, angry Ukrainians and NGOs will no doubt still enjoy the tournament. For Ukraine, hosting such a prestigious sporting event is a huge deal. Some EU politicians may boycott Euro 2012, but Ukrainian football fans certainly won't. Whether that will lead the people to forgive the government its sins before October's elections, however, is another question.

By Gulliver CRAGG

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