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Former Olympics Official Bilalov Faces Charges

A criminal case has been opened against businessman and former Russian Olympic Committee deputy head Akhmed Bilalov, whom President Vladimir Putin publicly scolded and sacked over delays and cost overruns at the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort in Sochi.

Bilalov is accused of spending money allocated to the North Caucasus Resorts state corporation on lavish trips to London and across Russia, the Prosecutor General's Office said Wednesday in a statement.

"During the [2012] Summer Olympics, $65,000 was paid for Bilalov's stay in a London hotel, as well as $26,000 on transportation services," the prosecutor's office said.

Following Putin's criticism of Bilalov, law enforcement agencies including the Federal Security Service and the Federal Service for Financial and Budgetary Inspection opened an inquiry into the corporation's dealings.

Amid mushrooming speculation regarding his potential arrest, Bilalov resigned from all his posts in Russia and left the country along with his younger brother Magomed, who returned in March. Vedomosti reported that Akhmed Bilalov also returned to Russia late last month, but that information could not be independently confirmed.

Analysts have linked the attack on the elder Bilalov to the ongoing struggle between liberal and conservative camps within the government. Bilalov is purportedly an associate of Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is a close ally of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

If Bilalov is charged and convicted of abuse of office, he will face up to four years in prison.

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