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MOSCOW, October 3 (Itar-Tass) - Russian authorities are going to take some fundamental measures to maintain security during the forthcoming Sochi winter Olympics at the proper level, in particular, to ward off potential terrorist threats. At the same time they promise that neither the participating athletes not spectators should brace for any inconveniences. Security measures will be no tighter than those at any previous such events in other countries.
Official representatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service FSB appeared at a special news conference in Moscow on Wednesday to offer explanations regarding how it would implement in practice certain clauses of the presidential decree on tighter security at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The security service officials vowed the security measures would not be unusually harsh.
All related procedures in Sochi during the Olympics will be inconspicuous and will not prevent local residents and guests from enjoying the sports events, FSB spokesman Alexei Lavrishchev told the news conference.
He said that the security measures at the Sochi Olympics would not be harsher than elsewhere in the past.
“In London-2012, for instance, some facilities were surrounded by high voltage perimeter security fences. Video cameras were planted even in toilet cabins, and there were snipers on many roofs. We shall not have anything of the sort. We will be taking very sensible measures. The city’s life during the Olympics will be in no way different from the usual routine,” Lavrishchev said.
In general, as follows from the previous experience of major international events, particularly those involving the presence of VIP persons, such as heads of state and government, security measures are normally tighter than usual, the FSB official said. He recalled that the streets of London were patrolled by military. Nothing of the sort will be seen in Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last August signed a decree ordering the introduction of controlled and restricted access areas for the period of the Olympics. Also, all motor vehicles with license places issued elsewhere will be banned from entering the city. Also, no rallies will be allowed to be held there on January 7 through March 21, 2014.
The restricted areas will remain open to those having authorized access by virtue of professional or business needs. The borders of controlled and restricted access areas will be marked by well-seen signs and inscriptions and also equipped with engineering and technical security devices.
Lavrishchev said that the ban on any processions not related with sports events was by no means a response to the latest actions by the world’s LGBT community, because the drafting of the decree had begun back two years ago.
“Mass protest actions may hinder the Olympics. Such restrictions had existed at the previous games,” the FSB spokesman said. “And at the recent FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil street processions often ended in rioting and the tournament was almost disrupted.”
Starting from January 7 - one month before the opening of the Olympics - certain restrictions will apply to motor vehicles entering the city and the roads leading to sports facilities. In particular, this concerns the Alpine cluster roads. This measure is part and parcel of International Olympic Committee requirements the organizers are expected to comply with. On some busy roads special fast lanes will be reserved for the motor vehicles used by the organizers, participants and officials.
The Interior Ministry has been instructed to ensure tighter security at the athletes’ hotels and sports facilities, other sites and territories and also to make arrangements for the surprise inspections of legal entities selling firearms and ammunition.
Those entering Sochi during the Olympics between January 7 and March 21 will need special accreditation at the Games’ transportation directorate. However, if a motor vehicle enters the city limits earlier than January 7, the restrictions will not apply. As for Sochi residents, they will need no accreditation at all.
There are going to be no restrictions for Russian and foreign nationals arriving in Sochi or their movements about the city, except for the special status of the several restricted areas.
At a meeting of the Security Council on September 9, where terrorism problems were discussed in connection with the situation in the North Caucasus, Putin called for devising new measures in the struggle with terrorism, extremism and crime. He pointed out that was crucial to stabilizing the situation in the region. “And, of course, the suppression and neutralization of the terrorist and criminal threats are exceptionally important in connection with hosting the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014,” Putin said.
The Olympics enjoyed special attention at the meeting, largely because the leader of Islamic militants in the North Caucasus, Doku Umarov, posted a video message on the Internet to urge all of his associates to do what they can in an attempt to upset the Sochi Olympics.
After Umarov’s threats Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev promised to establish a multi-tier system of security meeting the International Olympic Committee requirements.
Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to do away with Umarov before the Olympics begin.
“Each law enforcement agency has drafted its own security measures. The National Anti-Terrorist Committee does the coordination work,” Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said.
He declared that Russian special services maintained close cooperation with their counterparts in other countries. “This work is done on the traditional basis. Our partners cooperate actively with us, just as we cooperate with them. I do hope that if they get some crucial alarming information, our security agencies will be briefed on time.”
“There is the certainty that security at the Sochi Olympics will be ensured on the necessary scale,” Patrushev said.
In the meantime many experts believe that militants from Russia, currently involved in fighting government forces in Syria, may pose a significant threat to the Sochi Olympics.
Analyst Aleksei Malashenko, of Moscow’s Carnegie Centre, has described mercenaries from Russia in Syria as “crazy fanatics.” He suspects that as the Games’ opening date draws near, they may pose a real threat.