In a "travel warning," the department urged Americans to be
vigilant about personal security at the February 7 to March 14
Olympic Games, and flagged the possibility of petty crime,
inadequate medical care and hotel shortages.
It also highlighted a Russian law, much criticized by rights groups,
that would make it a crime to publicly promote the equality of gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
"Large-scale public events such as the Olympics present an
attractive target for terrorists," the State Department wrote in the
travel warning, saying that Russian authorities have said they are
taking appropriate security measures.
However, the department noted what it described as "acts of
terrorism" in Russia during the final three months of last year,
including three suicide bombings that targeted public transportation
in city of Volgograd, 600 miles from Sochi.
"There is no indication of a specific threat to U.S. institutions or
citizens, but U.S. citizens should be aware of their personal
surroundings and follow good security practices," it said.
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The warning also highlighted the danger of petty crime and
the possibility that political demonstrations — which the
Olympic charter bars at the site of the Games, but which Russian
authorities say may take place seven miles from Sochi in the
village of Khost — could unexpectedly turn violent.
It also noted that Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament
passed a law in June banning the "propaganda of nontraditional
sexual relations" to minors which, in the U.S. government's
view, applies to Russian citizens and foreigners.
"Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a
fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face
similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation," it said.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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