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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs