News / Europe

Russia Imposes Pre-Olympic Security Clampdown in Sochi

Russian traffic police stand guard on a road near venues at the Olympic Park near Sochi, January 7, 2014.
Russian traffic police stand guard on a road near venues at the Olympic Park near Sochi, January 7, 2014.
Reuters
Russian forces went on combat alert in Sochi and tightened restrictions on access to the Black Sea resort on Tuesday, exactly one month before the start of the Winter Olympic Games.
 
Aware that the success or failure of the Sochi Games will help shape his legacy, President Vladimir Putin has increased security across Russia following two suicide bomb attacks in the southern city of Volgograd which killed 34 people.
 
Moscow's most wanted man, the Chechen insurgent leader Doku Umarov, has urged militants who want to carve an Islamic state in Russia's North Caucasus region to use “maximum force” to prevent the Games going ahead.
 
Police began to impose long-planned restrictions that will heavily curtail entry into Sochi and limit the movements of its residents, who had mixed feelings about the clampdown.
 
“The resort is turning into a sort of concentration camp. Naturally this will deliver a serious blow to tourism and the huge number of people at the Olympics,” said Alexander Valov, a Sochi resident and blogger.
 
“When the town is in such a state of siege I don't think it will be comfortable here.”
 
But other residents and foreign visitors on the streets of Sochi told Reuters they welcomed the beefed-up security.
 
“After what happened in Volgograd it's necessary,” said Dina Kovalenko, at a kiosk selling tickets for town excursions.
 
“There is definitely a sense we have here in Sochi that we feel good, we feel safe,” said Nathan Wright, a British tourist posing with friends for photographs near the town center.
 
Authorities have deployed an additional 30,000 police and Interior Ministry troops in the resort, bringing the total number of personnel providing security at the Games to about 37,000, according to Russian officials.
 
Restrictions
 
Ordered by Putin in a decree last August, the heightened security measures will stay in force until March 21.
 
In this period the only road vehicles allowed into Sochi are those officially registered in the city or accredited for the Games or essential services. Visitors must also register with local authorities within three days or face expulsion.
 
Movement is being even more tightly controlled in several high security zones where only those accredited for the Games will be allowed. The zones include a swathe of territory extending to Russia's southern border with Abkhazia in neighboring Georgia, some 25 miles away.
 
“The restrictions are to make the roads free and easy for spectators, athletes and members of the Olympic family to move around,” a transport directorate said.
 
Local businesses have been ordered to stock up on supplies to enable them to do without outside deliveries for a few weeks.
 
Moscow has deployed regular troops and also anti-aircraft batteries to protect the Games from air attack. Last month Russian bloggers posted photographs of several surface-to-air missile installations within yards of the Olympic venue.
 
The region's air force commander said squadrons of Mig and Sukhoi fighter jets are ready to repel attack from any altitude.
 
Valov, the critical blogger, said many residents planned to leave for the duration of the Games, adding that a mass expulsion of migrant workers was also causing headaches.
 
“We're desperately short of janitors. As a result the town is looking dirtier. There's simply no one to do this,” he said.
 
More than 200 people protested on Sunday against how Moscow has run the Games so far, under the banner: “Natives of Sochi own the Games, not the visitors.”
 
But Putin, who on Saturday attended a rehearsal of the Games' opening ceremony in Sochi, has eased curbs on demonstrations, allowing groups to hold some marches and rallies at sites approved by the security services.
 
Campaign groups, calling for everything from gay rights to political reform, had complained that a blanket ban on rallies, imposed in August as part of earlier security measures, violated the Russian constitution.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid