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Is Sochi Going to be Safe?

sochi-olympic-park-38We’re starting the one-month countdown till the Sochi Winter Olympic Games and no, I don’t believe the Russians can keep the games, their athletes, and their spectators safe.

I hope they do.  Maiming and mutilation should happen to no one, but given Russia’s track record with terrorism, honestly, don’t count on it.  As was recentlyphoto 3-1 demonstrated, Sochi itself may not be the main concern, but it may be the transportation hubs networking throughout the rest of Russia and leading to the games.

041913David Satter, who is a Russian commentator and analyst, wrote recently for CNN:

“The terrorist attacks in Volgograd on December 29 and 30 are an ominous sign that the decision to hold 437039-bomb-blast-in-volgogradthe 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi may lead to one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the Olympics.”

“Many of the 120,000 persons expected to visit the Olympics do not realize that they are walking into what effectively is a war zone.”

There you have it.  The suicide attacks are right on schedule with Chechen separatist leader Doku Umarov’s directives.  This is no surprise to anyone familiar with the region.

91262759877Our kids grew up in southern Russia and the northern Caucasus.  I remember reading a U.S. State Department travel advisory before we left for the adoption trips.  It recommended that no one travel to such areas.  Since then, there was a cease-fire of sorts between the separatists and Russia, but now the terrorists are calling for an escalation in attacks. 

And Russia seems incapable of stopping them, despite its $50 billion investment in the games.

Satter rightly refers to the 2002 Moscow theater hostage situation where Russian forces tried to free the almost one thousand hostages and ended up killing 129 hostages right away with poison gas.  They thdidn’t perform much better in 2004 during the Beslan school attack, where grenade launchers and flame throwers killed 334 hostages, hundreds of which were children.

So it might be the terrorists attacking you, or the rescuing Russians who might kill you.

New Year’s celebrations in Russia were reportedly low-key this year as smart locals opted to stay away from large gatherings and avoid public transportation.  That’s what I would recommend to any potential Olympic visitor:  just stay home.

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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Leah says:

    It does appear as though the handwriting is on the wall. Such a shame. Do you recall the Moscow Summer Olympics of 1980 and how they were boycotted? That was over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. What about Russia’s deplorable human rights record of today with orphans, gays, and religious groups under fire? Not to mention 2,000 stray animals recently disposed of in Sochi? No thanks. We don’t know of anyone attending either.

    • avatar admin says:

      I hear you, Leah. What I’m wondering is why Sochi, so close to the Caucasus? Nice mountains, but…? It must be because that’s where Pres. Putin vacations. It’s all about him… at any cost….

  2. avatar sarah says:

    Alexandra, I couldn’t agree more! I could bring myself and the kids since I live in Europe. I had planned on going when it first was awarded to Sochi. No one could pay me enough to go now. It isn’t only the terrorism and lack of respect for other humans it also is the disastrous construction that has gone on in the area. There are many articles here how immigrant workers come from outside Russia and have worked with no pay. The structure of the buildings are terrible. The main Olympic area is built in a major flood plain and does not have an adequate sewage system. Large buildings are dangerously built by unskilled labor. Everything about it is a disaster. I feel for the athletes that have trained forever to compete to be in such a contentious Olympics. Watching on TV is more than enough for me.

    • avatar admin says:

      I know, Sarah, I know. We have the same articles here– foreign workers not being paid, their passports being held so they can’t leave, contractors (guess-whose childhood friends?) being overpaid by billions, standards that are not being adhered-to…. The whole thing could collapse! And what’s the main point of the Olympics, anyway? Good will-!

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