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US immigration agents arrest ex-Russian Olympic official whom Putin fired

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Officers. (ICE/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have arrested the former deputy head of the Russian Olympic Committee at his South Florida home.

Agents apprehended Akhmed Bilalov, who fled Russia after Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin criticized him for construction delays and ballooning costs before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

ICE took him into custody on October 23 at a condominium in Sunny Isles Beach, north of Miami.

It was not clear whether Bilalov, a native of Daghestan, is wanted for extradition to Russia and Interpol told the Miami Herald it “doesn’t have information to share” about him.

An ICE spokesman could not give any details on Bilalov’s arrest to dpa news agency.

Preparations for the games in Sochi were marred by allegations of government corruption related to public procurement orders and bids to win contracts.

Russia’s total price tag for the Olympics that year came to about $50 billion.

Putin had sarcastically berated Bilalov on live television for inflating costs of a ski-jump venue after which he fled the country soon afterward.

He was dismissed as vice president of Russia’s Olympic Committee in 2013.

That year, Bilalov told British newspaper The Guardian that he had been poisoned with mercury while in Russia before fleeing.

He had been living with his wife and newborn child at the condominium.

Bilalov’s lawyer didn’t respond to a dpa request for comment.