Sochi locks down for Winter Olympics

 Police officers walk in front of the main station at Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in the western Caucasian mountains near Krasnaya Polyana some 50 km outside of the Black Sea city of Sochi,
Police officers walk in front of the main station at Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in the western Caucasian mountains near Krasnaya Polyana some 50 km outside of the Black Sea city of Sochi,
Credit: Getty Images

Maximum security has been imposed around Sochi one month ahead of Russia’s Winter Olympics. As of January 7, an exclusion zone has been enforced around the Black Sea city, stretching 100 kilometers along the Black Sea coast and up to 40 kilometers inland. Within the zone, demonstrations are banned, military presence is high, and access is blocked for any non-authorized visitors.

Over 37,000 officers have been deployed to the area. They are on “combat alert” said Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, following last month’s terror attacks on Volgograd that killed 34. The attackers are believed to have been separatists from the volatile North Caucasus region, who have explicitly threatened the Games.

Security has placed restriction on local people, hundreds of whom had staged protests at the weekend.

“Police stop all the cars and try to take our driving licenses to keep roads free…only special services can drive,” Sochi resident Gregory Adler, 25, told Metro. “I don’t feel more protected, it’s more like a show.”

“All of us are excited about the Games but we also want this nightmare to be finished,” said Ulyana Butikova, 20. “At every step you find policemen and metal detectors appearing at all the train stations and shops.”

Human rights groups are concerned that security measures will impact civil liberties.

“For weeks we have been receiving reports of activists and critics being threatened and intimidated in the name of security,” said Rachel Denber, Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch.

While the authorities have softened a ban on protests by providing demonstrators designated zones, Denber believes the gesture is hollow. “You need a permit from security services and to request one would make you a target. They have done what the Chinese did by establishing a protest zone far from the city or anywhere people could access.”

Security experts believe terror fears will create a difficult atmosphere for visitors. “They are flooding the area with security personnel to try and lock down the area,” said Raymond Mey, senior program manager at the Soufan Group and former FBI agent with responsibility for security at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. “It’s not going to be the picture of sport and peace the International Olympic Committee want.”

But Mey believes an “enclosed security bubble” is the only way for authorities to address a genuine terror threat, with Sochi a high-profile target that is hosting its first event on this scale. Policing that threat will entail a zero-tolerance approach to dissent, he added.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.