World Cup workers imprison woman in own house

by Dmitry ZAKS
World Cup workers blamed for trapping a woman in her house "for several days"

The perils of Russia's rush to revamp its cities in time for the World Cup have been laid bare by the case of a woman trapped inside her own house.

The story with the plotline worthy of Edgar Allan Poe began last week when road repair workers were paving a central street in Nizhny Novgorod.

The industrial Volga River city is one of 11 chosen to host the June 14-July 15 football showpiece.

It is also one of many in urgent need of a sprucing up worthy of the vast crowds about to descend on Russia's sleepy provinces for the first time.

The problem in Nizhny Novgorod was that crews were so eagre to get the job done that the pavement they laid blocked the entrance to Anna Chemodanov's home.

Russia's OTR public television showed the metal gate to the rickety house clearly stuck in place and Anna's frustrated husband Ivan standing on the street outside.

He was at work at the time while Anna was busy doing daily chores inside.

"Can you imagine the level of idiocy this city has reached," Ivan asked the OTR crew.

"They mure people up just to get paid, just to get the job quickly over and done with."

The gate to the Chemodanovs house opens up to a courtyard where Anna was standing when the OTR reporters arrived.

Ivan examined the metal fence and asked his wife to take a step back on the other side.

He then tossed a bag full of groceries to his wife so that she does not starve.

"Did I kill you," he asked after the bag sailed into the air. OTR said the woman had been stuck inside for "several days".

City authorities told Ivan that the roadwork seems to have been done in the evening when it was getting dark.

It was not clear why it was taking so long to open up a stuck metal gate -- even if some pavement was in the way.

Russia will spend more than $13 billion (10.9 billion euros) on the most expensive World Cup ever staged.

Much of that money is being spent on infrastructure work that should give cities across the European part of the country a more modern feel.

Organising committee chief Alexei Sorokin said on Monday that everything has been going according to plan.

"We do not see anything to be worried about," he told the Izvestia daily.

World Cup workers blamed for trapping a woman in her house "for several days"