News / Europe

Can Terrorists Penetrate Ring of Steel Around Sochi Olympics?

Can Terrorists Penetrate Ring of Steel Around Sochi Olympics?i
X
January 31, 2014
They are touted as the new Russia’s $50 billion coming-out party -- the triumphal moment for Vladimir Putin’s presidency. But could Islamic terrorists spoil the Sochi Winter Olympics? James Brooke reports from Moscow.
TEXT SIZE - +
— A deadly bombing of a train station in southern Russia last month is the kind of nightmare that Russian authorities seek to avoid in Sochi, the southern Russian city where the Winter Olympics open on February 7.

Two weeks ago, two men from a jihadist group in Russia’s Dagestan claimed they carried out the bombing that killed 18.  One warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a video:

“If you hold these Olympics, we will give you a present for the innocent Muslim blood being spilled all around the world - in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Syria,”  the man said.  Then he warned Olympic visitors:  “For the tourists who come, there will be a present, too.”

This week, the Olympic torch rally peacefully made its way through Dagestan and across the conflict-torn Caucasus.

In this region, Russian police say that last year they killed 260 Islamic militants and seized 320 homemade bombs.

Protected by isolation

But security experts say that largely Christian Sochi is physically and culturally isolated from Russia’s mostly Muslim Caucasus. Defense expert Pavel Felgenhauer says this isolation protects the Olympics.

“Sochi in the 19th century was totally ethnically cleansed by the Czarist military forces of all indigenous population, and it was re-populated by Russians and other peoples from other parts of the empire: Georgians, Armenians, even Estonians, Greeks,” said Felgenhauer, who writes a defense column for Moscow’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

“There is no indigenous support for jihadist terrorism in Sochi. And Sochi can be bottled up," he said.  The mountains that are the background of the city, right now during the winter, are just simply physically impassable. There are no roads there, and there is no way even a well-trained person could get through at this time of the year,” Felgenhauer said.

"Ring of steel"

President Putin said he is using this geography to protect Sochi with a “ring of steel.”

“If we allow ourselves to exhibit weakness, to exhibit fear, to show our fear, this means that we will contribute to terrorists in achieving their goals,” he recently told foreign and Russian reporters.

In what looks like the most heavily protected Olympics in history, Russia is deploying 60,000 police and soldiers - 26 for each athlete.

“Sochi has been more made into a country of its own,” said Mark Galeotti, a professor of global affairs at New York University and a specialist on Russia’s police. “You need to have a special visa, an entry documentation to get in there. Inhabitants of the area have been brought under considerable controls. You can't drive a private car freely,” he said.

Galeotti adds that the Russians will be monitoring all communications by Olympic guests, visitors and journalists. “They've rolled out a brand new series of electronic measures, basically to intercept every single text message, every single e-mail conversation,” he said.

But some terrorists may slip through. Last week, police distributed to hotel receptionists wanted posters for three women in head scarves.

In Russia, they are feared as “black widows” - jihadist women who carry out suicide bombings to avenge the deaths of their husbands.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid