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Russian toilet facilities cause an online 'twitter'

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The BBC printed a photo of a men's restroom at a Sochi Olympics site on Tuesday, and it has many people "all-a-twitter" with amusement. The picture in question is the bathroom facilities at the Biathlon Center.

Steve Rosenberg, the Moscow correspondent for the BBC tweeted the photo, and it was picked up by a number of people, including the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny apparently tweeted an inquiry, asking just how the $50 billion had been spent. He then retweeted the photo, commenting, "This is a men's toilet in a Sochi Olympics media centre for 1.5bn roubles ($45 million)."

Another blogger wrote, "Two toilets - 28,000 roubles. Olympic media centre - 1.5bn roubles. Global embarrassment - priceless."

There were comments over the one roll of toilet paper on the wall between the toilets, leaving one commenter to suggest grabbing a handful of paper might be prudent before sitting down.

The Olympic Biathlon Center was completed two years ago, with investments from Gazprom, Russia's state gas company. It is considered the world's biggest and most comfortable type of building of its kind, according to a Gazprom company representative.

The sight of twin toilet facilities may be unusual in European parts of the Russian Federation, but it is not unknown. Travelers to Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe will find the facilities are different than what is seen in the U.S. and in Western Europe.

While modern, well-appointed facilities will be found in well-populated places, old-style and sometimes primitive toilet facilities can still be found in Russia and many of the former soviet countries. This is nothing more than a cultural thing, and it even goes so far as to dictating the extent of the separation of the toilet facilities.

Many restrooms in Eastern Europe, like those in train stations and large shopping malls have pay toilets. Visitors should always carry some change in the country's currency, as using the facilities only cost a few cents. But it is always better to bring your own toilet paper, because a roll of toilet paper is often not available.

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