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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

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