Russia to increase security at athletics event
MOSCOW -- Russian sports officials said Tuesday they will beef up security at sports events and the Sochi 2014 Winter Games in the wake of deadly explosions at Boston's marathon that killed three people, and injured over 140 others.
The World Athletics Championship takes place in Moscow on Aug. 10-18, and the event is seen as a dress rehearsal for the 2014 Winter Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Officials will get in touch with the organizers of the Boston marathon to find out which security precautions may have failed, Mikhail Butov, secretary general of the Russian Athletics Federation, said.
"Our security measures are tough as they are," Butov told The Associated Press. "But when it's clear what actually happened (in Boston), we will draw our conclusions."
Federation president, Valentin Balakhnichev, told the Interfax news agency that the Boston bombings on Monday revealed "problems" in ensuring security at outdoors events and expressed concern that it may inspire "other organizers of terrorist attacks."
Police and security services in Moscow are gearing to up for "all possible emergencies" even though the athletics championships will be held in a confined space indoors at the Luzhniki Stadium.
"Safety, safety and safety is our priority," Alexander Polinsky, the head of the events department at the Moscow City Hall, told Interfax.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko described the attack in Boston as "a grave signal."
"Naturally, we're beefing up security measures," Mutko told the R-Sport news agency. He defended tough security measures Russian officials put in place at sporting events despite complaints by some foreign officials and athletes who consider them excessive.
The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee could not immediately comment on how the bombings in Boston are going to affect preparations for the Games.
Security precautions were high and visible to outsiders at international test events in Sochi in January and February. Some athletes were bemused by what they described as unprecedented security measures including patrols of guards with assault rifles as well as incessant checks of credentials.
From the entrance to the cable car at the foot of the mountain to the slopes at the top, security guards and volunteers checked credentials every step of the way. During a single journey, it wasn't unusual for a badge to be meticulously scrutinized at least a dozen times. Guards with assault rifles and German shepherds patrolled the sports venues in groups, although they seemed to try to keep a low profile.
In February, Dmitry Chernyshenko, chief of the 2014 Sochi Organizing Committee, insisted that the security measures would be exactly the same during the games.
Russia is wary of an Islamic insurgency that has long troubled a patchwork of predominantly Muslim in the south.
The insurgency began in Chechnya during separatist wars with Moscow in the 1990s and spread throughout the region. In Dagestan, the current epicenter of the violence, bombings and shootings targeting police and other officials occur almost daily. In recent years, however, the terror attacks have largely been confined to the North Caucasus region, rarely spilling into the rest of Russia, including the Sochi area.
Yelena Yegorova contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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