Russia’s Olympic chief says security for Sochi 2014 will be beefed up after terror attacks

By David Nowak, AP
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Russia to enhance Olympic security after attacks

SOCHI, Russia — Russia will enhance security for the 2014 Winter Olympics following multiple suicide bombings blamed on militants from the nation’s southern provinces.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, the Cabinet minister overseeing preparations, sought to reassure visiting International Olympic Committee members Thursday. He said a “comprehensive plan” was under consideration to ensure “strengthened public protection measures.”

Last month’s twin suicide bombings in the Moscow subway killed 40 and wounded more than 120. Officials said the attacks were staged by Islamic militants based in the North Caucaus region in Russia’s south. Sochi is on the Black Sea coast across the mountains from the nation’s restive southern provinces.

Kozak added, however, that security would not be significantly higher than for February’s Winter Games in Vancouver or the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. He refused to elaborate on security plans.

Sochi is less than 200 miles west of the volatile regions of Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan, where authorities are fighting a deeply entrenched Islamist insurgency. Officials attribute the recent terrorist attacks across the country to suicide bombers from Dagestan.

Kozak’s comments came at the end of a three-day inspection of the 2014 facilities, which Russia is building from scratch, by the IOC’s coordination commission.

“We know what is happening in Russia,” commission head Jean-Claude Killy said during a news conference in the mountain retreat of Krasnaya Polyana, where the snow-based competition will take place.

“Those measures that are already in place will be augmented, and the position of the IOC is straightforward in this matter,” he added. “We entrust these issues to the authorities of the respective countries to monitor the situation.”

Killy said the IOC had met with high-ranking Russian security officers Wednesday, but would not disclose details. The IOC said last month it was confident Russian authorities will take all measures to ensure a “safe environment” for the games.

On another matter, Kozak said the luge and bobsled track will be safe even if it takes last-minute changes in the final stages of construction. Russia wants to ease concerns following the death of a Georgian luger during a practice run hours before the start of the Winter Games.

“What happened in Vancouver … gives us cause to have a long hard think,” Kozak said.

An official report into the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili will be published Monday. The IOC said the report will be shown to Kumaritashvili’s family before being made public. Report writer Svein Romstad has said no single reason explains how and why Kumaritashvili crashed at Whistler on Feb. 12.

An Austrian company hired to study the blueprints of the track confirmed it conforms to safety standards, Kozak said.

“We can implement certain corrections during construction to guarantee the track’s safety 100 percent,” he said.

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