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Sochi puts security at top of its Olympic agenda

Published time: January 10, 2014 13:38
Edited time: January 10, 2014 20:04

A police officer stands near a metal detector frame at the Gornaya Karusel (Mountain Carousel) sports and holiday complex, that will be used at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi (AFP Photo)

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An unprecedented level of security has been implemented around the Russian city of Sochi, the site of the Olympic Games. Tens of thousands of police officers have been tasked to protect tourists, athletes and locals against possible threats.

Up to the start of the Games, around 23 thousand personnel will carry out security measures, while around 40 thousand people will ensure safety during the Games.

The country is to spend around $2 billion on security, according to reports in the Russian media.

Many of the forces taking part in safeguarding the safety of the Games will take courses in English and alpinism, to be able to communicate with international guests, as well as to react in emergency situations in the mountainous areas.

Ships and submarines will protect the city from the sea, while helicopters and drones will take over the air defense of the area. Quad bikes will be used for security and safety operations in the mountains.

Since 2007, when Sochi was chosen as the host of the 2014 Olympics, questions have been raised about the security of the city and its surroundings, due to the proximity of the Caucasus region, infamous for frequent tensions.

However, the officials in charge say that security has been their number one priority while preparing for the Games.

“Terrorism is a global threat, and for terrorism there is no boundaries, no territories, but here in Sochi from the very beginning of the construction phase the state authorities did their utmost to prepare special measures, starting from the screening of raw materials, checking all the venues and preparing far-reaching security measures to provide the safest ever environment here,” Dmitry Chernyshenko, Chairman of the Sochi Organising Committee, told RT.

A controlled zone has been implemented to ensure security, and this area stretches 60 kilometers along the coast and 25 kilometers inland. It encompasses all venues.

Reuters / Maxim Shemetov

Anyone staying in the city for over 3 days has to get registered, and all the spectators are set to get a special “Fan passport”, which will give the intelligence services access to personal data.

The regional postal service has warned that all packages must be sent open, from January 1 to March 31.

All the sites that will take part in the Olympics are heavily guarded. This includes a brand-new train station in the city of Adler, which is located 20 kilometers from Sochi.

“We have CCTV cameras, intercoms that connect you with the engineer, and a police presence at train stations and on the train. Security is pretty tight,” Artyom Rudyuk, deputy chief for the High-Speed Rail Directorate told RT about the safety of the train station.

In fact, it won’t be just Russian forces that ensure the Games stay absolutely secure; they will be aided by US and UK special forces.

“In terms of security, Sochi is a special case, because this whole area is for authorized visitors only. There are security details from a number of countries, including the UK and US, working here,” Robert Schlegel, State Duma Deputy, told RT.

About 20 FBI employees will be serving in Moscow, and 10 people will maintain security in Sochi itself.

Concerns have been voiced over security in the city of Sochi, especially following the violent Volgograd bombings in late December that killed 34 people.