Insurgents who want to create an Islamist state in the North
Caucasus mountains have threatened to attack the Games and suicide
bombers killed at least 34 people in the southern city of Volgograd
President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his personal and political
prestige on next month's Games, has put troops on combat alert in
Sochi and tightened security across the country but fears of an
attack on the Olympics remains.
"You can't just count on the special services and heroic commandos,"
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's national Investigative
Committee, which answers directly to Putin, told Izvestia newspaper
in an interview.
"If our citizens are not ready to be vigilant, and to refrain from
the shady business and corruption that create an environment for the
terrorist underground, the intelligence services and — even more so — the investigators can only ... face the tragic consequences."
Markin did not specifically refer to the Olympics but that is
currently the country's main security concern.
Markin said his agency had lost count of how many militants had been
killed in Russia, which has fought two separatist wars in Chechnya
in the North Caucasus since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.
Markin said federal security agencies cooperated well but civilians'
help was still vital.
"In my view this is the only way, simultaneously from the top and
bottom ... to control channels of illegal trafficking and
terrorism," he told the paper, which is allied to the Kremlin.
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Sochi lies on the Black Sea and on the western edge of the Caucasus
Mountains, where the Islamist insurgents wage almost daily violence.
The insurgency's leader and Moscow's most-wanted man, Doku Umarov,
has urged militants to exercise "maximum force" to prevent the Games
Putin said after the Volgograd bombings that he would annihilate
"terrorists" and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said he is
confident Russia can guarantee security at the Games, which start on
About 37,000 personnel are now in place to provide security in Sochi
and the International Olympic Committee has expressed confidence the
Games will be safe.
But, underlining the danger of attacks, security forces said on
Saturday they had arrested five members of a banned militant group
in southern Russia and defused a homemade bomb packed with shrapnel.
(Editing by Timothy Heritage and Ralph Boulton)
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