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FBI chief: Russia devoting ‘enormous resources and effort’ to make Olympics secure

Published time: January 11, 2014 14:11
Edited time: January 11, 2014 15:09
A Russian police officer stands on a street in Sochi December 30, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

A Russian police officer stands on a street in Sochi December 30, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

FBI director James Comey has said that securing any Olympics is an ‘enormous task’, but there’s a substantial effort on the part of the Russian authorities to make the Sochi Games secure. He added the FBI will be cooperating.

“Securing any Olympics is an enormous task. I think it’s particularly challenging in Sochi because of its proximity to areas of unrest and sources of a terrorist threat,” Comey said. Russian authorities are devoting enormous resources and effort to securing the games, he added, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Comey spoke of improved cooperation between Russian and US intelligence officials and announced that about three dozen FBI personnel will come to Sochi and Moscow to rendezvous with their counterparts in the Russian intelligence service to aid the security effort. He expressed confidence that the Russian authorities will keep the Games safe.

“We have been in regular communication – including me personally – with their security organizations to make sure we’re coordinating well. I think we are,” Comey told reporters on Thursday. “We’ve improved our information sharing on counterterrorism…The Russian government understands the threat and is devoting the resources to address it.”

Agencies’ cooperation is nothing new for huge international events like the Olympics, and while a lot of this happens at a classified level of intelligence sharing, it has often been reported in the media about the dispatch of foreign personnel to events in order to assist with security procedures.

On Friday, the US State Department issued a travel alert for Americans planning on attending the winter Olympic Games in Sochi. While no ‘specific threat’ for US citizens is indicated, they are asked to stay vigilant.

The document says that while Westerners will hardly be specific targets for terrorist groups, with the Russian authorities promising to provide appropriate security, US citizens are advised to stay “aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices.”

An aerial view from a helicopter shows the Olympic Park under construction in the Adler district of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

Moscow has repeatedly insisted that every possible security measure is already in place in Sochi. Tens of thousands of police and interior ministry officials will be safeguarding the Games, while 5,000 surveillance cameras installed across the city will bolster the counterterrorism effort.

“All security is in place. And I want to ensure you that despite the global threat of terrorism, here in Sochi everybody will be protected,” the head of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, earlier told RT.The anti-terrorism measures announced include surveillance drones, which will for the first time be used in Sochi to keep the Olympics secure. In addition, two sonar systems to detect submarines and protect the Sochi area from a possible sea-launched terror attack will be used.

This is not the first time such serious security measures have been taken by a country hosting the Olympic Games. At the 2012 Olympics in London, the UK’s security operation involved warships anchored on the Thames, attack helicopters dispatched, and ground-to-air missiles installed within the city. Tens of thousands of security guards and military personnel took part in the operation. The UK capital’s residents also saw surveillance sharply tightened, with countless extra cameras installed and a fleet of spying drones brought into action.