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Recent Terrorist Activity in Russia Highlights Need For Security Vigilance During Sochi Olympics
Jan. 10, 2014
A recent spate of attacks throughout southwestern Russia, attributed by the Russian government to extremist groups in the North Caucasus region, has underscored the need for security vigilance for those planning to be in Sochi during next month's 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, which run from Feb. 7 to 23.
None of the attacks has involved aviation targets, such as airports or FBOs; however, the proximity of the attacks to Sochi has raised concerns among aviation security experts.
Resulting precautions have also led to concerns for flight-planning companies organizing trips to the event, according to Jerri Banks, team manager for the Echo, Large Aircraft and Team Europe teams at Universal Weather and Aviation.
"Our primary focus ahead of the games has been with providing our clients with the proper security briefings for the region," Banks said. "Since the attacks, however, many of our clients have inquired about significantly upgraded security arrangements, including additional personnel to guard their parked aircraft, security details for crewmembers and armed bodyguards to accompany them throughout their stay in Sochi.”
Another security provision being considered by many clients is ground transportation via hardened vehicles, driven by vetted security personnel who are extremely familiar with the surrounding area.
“Security vendors are also being strictly regulated by the International Olympic Committee,” Banks added, “which means attendees [of the Olympic Games] should work with their service provider to coordinate this request.”
Although any Olympic event carries increased security considerations, the years-long conflict between Russian troops and rebels operating in the region placed additional emphasis on the Sochi games even before the late-December terrorist bombings in the southern cities of Pyatigorsk and Volgograd, located 170 miles east and 430 miles northeast, respectively, from the Olympic city.
Banks noted that considerations ahead of the Sochi games have been markedly different from her experiences coordinating travel to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
"I would say there's an even-greater focus on safety and security ahead of the Sochi games, because there are recent events that are fresh in everyone's minds," she said. "As one example, in the wake of the attacks, the Russian Federal Security Service committed some 40,000 military troops and law enforcement officers to provide security throughout the games.
"Like with any other public event, though, the most important advice for attendees is to carry a daily dose of common sense and ensure they are aware of their surroundings at all times," she added.