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Ensuring security for Sochi Games essential in light of recent bombings
Publication Date : 08-01-2014
The Russian government is urged to absolutely ensure the security of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which are set to open in one month.
Late last month, suicide bombings that targeted a railway station and a trolleybus occurred two days in a row, killing more than 30 people, in Volgograd, a major city about 700 kilometres northeast of Sochi on the Black Sea coast.
In the Dagestan Republic in the North Caucasus region, adjacent to Sochi, terrorist attacks have occurred one after another, killing several people.
The recent series of indiscriminate terrorist attacks are believed to be the acts of Islamic extremists and may have been committed by an armed group, which has announced its intention to obstruct the Sochi Games through terror attacks, while calling for the independence of the North Caucasus, which has a large population of Muslims, and the establishment of an Islamic state there.
This is a worrisome situation. Whatever purposes these attacks may have, terrorism must not be tolerated.
Yet there is no denying that the high-handed political stance of Russian President Vladimir Putin has exacerbated the opposition among Muslims, as he has repressed minorities, media and political forces that do not agree with his administration.
It is deemed inevitable the leaders of such countries as the United States, Germany and France have decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, on the grounds of human-rights issues in Russia.
At least for now, it is a matter of urgency to prevent terrorist attacks at the Winter Games, where athletes, senior officials of foreign governments and spectators will gather from around the world.
Areas in and around Sochi have already been put under tight security, with the police and military forces mobilized. But even tighter security is needed.
Other targets possible
Other cities and areas, such as Moscow, may also become a target of terrorism. We hope the Russian government will be on alert against terrorism nationwide.
Following the deadly attacks in Volgograd, Putin said, “We'll fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation.” He may also intend to show regional stability both at home and abroad by hosting a successful Winter Games, set to be held near the unstable region of the North Caucasus.
The Russian authorities have said that last year they killed 260 members of extremist groups in the North Caucasus region and elsewhere. It is certain that they will continue to vigorously carry out cleanup operations.
Yet it is difficult for force alone to end terrorism and solve the fundamental problem.
The Putin administration has used force to bring an armed Islamic force under control in Chechnya in the same region. However, rebels who escaped the offensives by Russian forces have continued to operate in Dagestan and elsewhere.
To bring about lasting regional stability, it is essential to help enhance the poverty-stricken people’s livelihood in the region so as to keep the area from becoming a hotbed of terrorism.
In Sochi, a Group of Eight summit meeting will also be held in June. It can be said the credibility of the Putin administration is at stake over its ability to maintain public peace.