State Department issues a warning for Sochi Olympics

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 10, 2014 


Media prep outside the Bolshoy Ice Dome, hockey venue for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which hosted its first events in early 2013.


The State Department has issued a travel alert for Americans traveling to the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia, noting that such large events "present an attractive target for terrorists."

The alert issued Friday urges those attending to "remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times."

The warning -- which comes after terrorist attacks in the Russian city of Volgograd killed dozens -- says that Russian authorities have indicated that they are taking "appropriate security measures" in Sochi in light of the attacks and the Olympics.

It says that acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage takings, continue to occur in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region. Between Oct. 15 and Dec. 30, it says, there were three suicide bombings targeting public transportation in Volgograd -- 600 miles from Sochi -- two of which occurred within the same 24-hour period.

Other bombings over the past 10-15 years occurred at Russian government buildings, airports, hotels, tourist sites, markets, entertainment venues, schools, and residential complexes, the warning says.

There have also been large-scale attacks on public transportation including subways, buses, trains, and commercial flights. It also notes that in July 2013, Doku Umarov, the head of the Caucasus Emirate (an organization the United States designated as a terrorist organization in 2010) released a video message rescinding prior directions not to attack civilians and calling for attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Caucasus Emirate is responsible for many of the aforementioned attacks, the State Department says.

It also notes that the Winter Games are the first large-scale event to be held in Sochi and that "medical capacity and infrastructure in the region are untested for handling the volume of visitors expected for the Olympics."


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