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Russia prepares for possible threats to 2014 Winter Olympics

MOSCOW, March 28 (UPI) -- Russia is preparing for possible terrorist threats to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

At a recent session of the Russian Security Council in Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Games, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that Russia intends to spend $2 billion on security for the 2014 Olympics, twice what was spent on security by the organizers of the 2010 Games in Vancouver and more than the outlays on security by the organizers in Athens, Greece, in 2004 for the Summer Games, which are larger than Winter Olympics.

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In Athens in 2004 the Games organizers faced three major threats -- Kosovar Albanians, who had gained independence and were promising to focus attention upon themselves with a terrorist act; radical Turks who were reportedly preparing to seize Olympian athletic hostages; and dissident Kurdish elements, Nasha Versiia reported Sunday.

A recent Security Council session said possible threats to the Games included North Caucasian separatists in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and Karachay-Cherkessia and Georgian irredentists.

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Of the various possible disruptive elements in Sochi, Russian authorities are said to be concerned that potential Georgian attackers might have significant foreign backing, as Georgian governmental irredentists have the support of the Western democracies, led by the United States.

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Since the 2008 conflict, relations between Russia and Georgia have remained extremely strained, as the administration of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has never accepted the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose subsequent independence Russia recognized.

Adding to the uncertainties surrounding the games, on Feb. 25 Saakashvili spoke live on PIK television. Reading his televised address in Russian, Saakashvili stated that "Georgia poses zero threat to Sochi physically."

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In contrast, at a recent meeting of the Security Council in Krasnaia Poliana, Medvedev noted that Russian intelligence services have information on possible provocations during the 2014 Olympics being prepared by Georgia.

"There are also certain problems involving our neighbor Georgia, everything that requires increased attention along the lines of the Foreign Ministry, law enforcement authorities and the uniformed agencies has to be done, therefore, and a secure barrier has to be placed in the way of any provocations," Medvedev said.

As part of the blueprint for security drawn up by the FSB, successor to the KGB and providing for the creation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs 2014 Olympics center, it is planned to increase the ranks of the Sochi police to 25,000 to deal with any unexpected events.

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