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Russia takes unprecedented security measures ahead of Sochi Olympics

January 10, 2014, 16:04 UTC+3 Itar-Tass Analysis

MOSCOW, January 10. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree instituting additional security measures in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics, took effect on January 7. Experts polled by the Itar-Tass political analysis centre say these measures are indispensable for the time of the Games or any other events equal in importance and scale.

The special security procedures will be effective in Sochi from January 7 to March 21. By different estimates, maintaining security will be the job of a force of over 30,000, among them 8,000 interior troops, 25,000 police, as well as personnel of different special forces and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The latter is even planning to use space satellite monitoring to forecast emergency situations.

Law and order will also be secured by more than 400 Kuban Cossacks who have already arrived in the city. The Cossacks will be checking identity documents and taking abusers to police stations.

During this period access to this tighter security area will be practically impossible. Essential business or official duty reasons will be the sole exceptions. The zone’s perimeter runs along the border of Karachay-Cherkessia and stretches to the Russian border with Abkhazia. Visitors to some controlled areas will be let in only after due police checks.

Those who want to go to Sochi by car will have to leave their vehicles at intercept parking lots. Cars from other cities are now not admitted to Sochi.

Air space above the Olympic region will be guarded by an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron as well as cutting-edge ZRK S-400 and Pantsir-S1 air defense rockets. From the sea, Sochi will be protected by four counter-terror gunboats.

“For those saying security measures taken in Sochi are excessive there is a good proverb: there cannot be too much money, information and ammunition. This is what all special services and forces say. This also applies to security measures,” said the president of the International Counter-Terror Training Association Josef Linder.

“One should understand that ahead of such a serious event as the Winter Olympics, an event of great political importance for any country, especially the hosting state, no security measures can be redundant. That is, we should stick rigorously to the principle of universal security, otherwise we cannot call it security at all,” Linder added.

Another issue, Linder says, is inconvenience caused for the locals: “Awareness promotion and explanation work is needed with the help of the media, and by all means in advance, so that the people should understand what is at stake. The population should be talked not as an angry crowd but as potential allies. The locals should be involved in assisting the security system along with the volunteers.”

Co-chairman of the Association of Military-Political Scientists, Vasily Belozerov, agrees there cannot be too much security.

“We need to remember that Sochi is located not far from the regions that have experienced or are still experiencing conflicts and extremist acts and suffer from social and political tensions,” the expert said. “Therefore, we cannot discount the possibility that some destructive forces keen to shake loose the situation in Russia may use the Games for a high-profile act. The security measures are totally justified.” He added that the Russian authorities’ decision was based on the analysis carried out by the law enforcement authorities, military forces and intelligence services.

“Russia cannot afford to fail in holding the Olympics properly,” Belozerov believes. “Such events have always caused certain inconveniences for the locals wherever they took place. Clearly, sometimes such measures go too far. There will always be people who prefer to be guided by the principle ‘It is better to overdo than underdo’. We need patience, if we wish to be proud of these Olympics rather than regret anything afterwards.”

The head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), James Comey, said Thursday he was satisfied over security cooperation with the Russian law enforcement authorities in Sochi. According to Comey, about twenty FBI agents will work in Moscow and about ten others, in Sochi. Some of them are already on site.

Besides, in early November British special services resumed cooperation with their Russian counterparts, interrupted over the controversial high-profile death of a former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, Alexander Litvinenko, in London. At the Sochi Olympics Russian and British security personnel will be working together.


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