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The Best of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival

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Cannes 2018: and the Palme d’or goes to....

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Cannes 2018: Lebanese film 'Capharnaum' wows critics

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EYE ON AFRICA

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo: vaccinations to start on Sunday

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The Royal wedding: Pomp & controversy

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Cannes 2018: John Travolta brings the mob to the red carpet

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Summit or No Summit: North Korea angry over military drill

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Could thawing permafrost unleash long-gone deadly viruses?

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French and noble in 2018: What remains of France's aristocracy?

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REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2018-02-16

Video: How the 2014 Winter Olympics transformed Sochi

© France 24

In 2014, the Russian seaside resort of Sochi hosted the Winter Olympics. With a price tag of $50 billion, they were the most expensive Olympic Games ever. The event was intended to showcase the triumphant return of Vladimir Putin to the international stage, two years after his re-election as Russian president. Today, what has become of these sprawling sites? Our reporter returned to Sochi.

In 2007, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to Sochi, kicking off a profound transformation of the southern Russian city. Initially estimated at $12 billion, the cost of hosting the Games kept soaring to reach $50 billion. One corruption scandal followed another, while the authorities and companies sharing the works were less than transparent about the budget. But in the end, Sochi pulled it off. After five years of building work day and night, the city had brand new infrastructure to boast of: more than 550 kilometres of roads and railway lines, dozens of hotels, several new ski resorts, a conference centre and no less than six Olympic stadiums.

But even before the Sochi Games’ closing ceremony, the eyes of the world were already on neighbouring Ukraine, where the pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovich was ousted by the Maidan revolution in February 2014. The following month, Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and fell out with the West, leaving a bitter aftertaste to the panache of the Sochi Games. In the city, however, building work continued in order to turn the Olympic infrastructure into a site suitable for welcoming tourists. For as well as the Olympics, Vladimir Putin had another project in mind: giving Russia a world-class tourist resort to attract holidaymakers from Russia and abroad.

Up to 20 years to pay off cost of Games

The beach in summer, the ski slopes in winter: Sochi’s subtropical climate makes it an ideal location for tourists. The Russian president himself owns a villa there. His charm offensive towards his compatriots seems to have worked: last year, 6.4 million tourists visited Sochi, most of them Russians. Vladimir Putin spared no expense on promoting the city: sport, cultural and geopolitical events now take place throughout the year in Sochi.

But although successes are undeniable, there are also difficulties - especially financial ones for investors who are struggling to repay the cheap loans granted by VEB, a Russian state-owned bank that finances major government projects. Experts estimate that it will take at least 15 to 20 years to pay off the colossal expenses incurred for the Games. Nevertheless, for the people of Sochi, the Games have breathed new life into their city.

By Elena VOLOCHINE , Thomas LOWE

Archives

2018-05-11 Africa

Video: Ten years on, what remains of Somalia's 'Pirateland'?

A decade ago, Somali pirates were frequently in the headlines for hijacking boats and holding their crews for ransom. The epicentre of the piracy crisis was Somalia's...

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2018-04-27 Americas

Video: California residents prepare for 'the Big One'

All Californians are aware that one day "the Big One" – a massive earthquake – will hit the San Francisco Bay area. According to experts, there is a 90 percent probability that...

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2018-04-13 Europe

Video: ‘Yugo-nostalgia’ versus nationalism in the Balkans

Our reporters Michael Sztanke and Julien Alric returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, almost three decades after the break-up of Yugoslavia. Today, these two neighbouring...

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2018-03-28 Africa

Video: The Sudanese people’s long wait for a brighter future

Our reporters Bastien Renouil and Élodie Cousin return to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum six months after the United States lifted its economic sanctions on the...

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2018-03-16 Ireland

Ireland: The forgotten Angels of Tuam

Our reporters returned to Ireland, where the remains of 800 children who died at the Tuam Mother and Baby home in County Galway were found in a mass grave. Our team met with...

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