Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics and Terror Threats

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Sochi, a Russian city is currently grabbing international headlines because of the Winter Olympics and terrorist threats. Coincidentally, it was right about 25 years ago that I happened to be in Sochi. In fact, I spent three weeks at the resort city of Adler which was less than an hour-bus ride to Sochi which lies on the western edge of the Caucasus mountains on the Black Sea in southern Russia. Adler just like Sochi was situated on the banks of the Black Sea. I still remember 'Frigate' was the name of the 20-story modern resort house where I was provided accomodation for relaxing in the summer vacation.
Probably, all the statuses are not quo in case of Sochi. Twenty five years ago, Sochi was a typical Soviet city, full of ubiquitous Soviet style buildings, roads, parks and public transportation networks. But I still remember when I landed at the Sochi airport, I was so surprised to see the mix of tall mountains and the sea, it was so incredible, so amazing. But back then the Sochi airport was comparatively not a big and sophisticated one.
Now that the Winter Olympics is just around the corner, the Sochi airport should have been transformed into a modern airport and Sochi itself should have been morphed into a modern city, thanks to billions of dollars worth investment by the Putin  administration on the infrastructure and development of Sochi.
Meanwhile, according to media reports, an Islamic militant group in the volitile Caucasus region has threatened to attack the Olympic Games and has claimed responsibility for two bombings last month in the southern city of Volgagrad that killed 34 people.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with foreign correspondents, said Russia would do "whatever it takes" to ensure the security of Olympics participants and guests. The Russian president who has staked his political prestige on the success of the Olympics has ordered safety and security measures stepped up in Sochi and across Russia. Approximately, 40,000 Russian police and military personnel are providing security in the Sochi area.
According to media reports, at least, 10,000 Americans are traveling to Sochi for Winter Olympic Games.Obviously, the terrorist threats of assaults have triggered panic among the international participants and visitors. Going by the American media reports, many visitors and relatives of the participants are in a fix whether or not make a trip to Sochi during the Olympics.
There is no doubt that the threats of the Islamofascists should not be taken merely as hoax. According to the media reports, Russia has made adequate and necessary arrangements of security in Sochi and across the Russian Federation.
Judging by Sochi's geo-polititical location, it looks like terrorist assaults during the games is not possible in or around Sochi, but most likely, any terrorist assault can take place at places other than Sochi.

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