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 2:02 PM
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.
James Brooke
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.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid