(WFI) Russian president Vladimir Putin says security chiefs must work hard to prevent terrorist attacks on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup.
Putin spoke to Russian security forces this week, stressing the importance of the two mega-events as well as the associated dangers of terrorism.
Islamist militants in Russia’s North Caucasus region have threatened to attack the Olympics in the Black Sea resort; they demand the region be turned into an Islamic state.
“In the coming years, a whole series of very large political and sport events are going to be held in Russia, and it should be a matter of honour for law enforcement officials and special forces to do everything so that these events take place in a normal, businesslike, festive atmosphere,” Putin was quoted by the Interfax news agency.
“We have lots of tension and conflict hot spots here, but we also have enough strength, skills and means to deter possible threats,” Putin added.
In May, Russia foiled a plot by Islamist insurgents to attack the Sochi Olympics, confiscating weapons and explosives including surface-to-air missiles.
Kazan, one of the 11 host cities for the 2018 World Cup, was subjected to a terror attack on a senior Muslim religious leader earlier this year.
A major test of the city’s security forces will come when Kazan hosts the 2013 Universiade.
Two weeks ago, Russia’s World Cup organisers confirmed the host cities and 12 stadia that will be used to stage the tournament’s 64 matches.
Already divided into four geographical clusters, the host cities/stadiums are: Moscow, the only city with two stadiums, namely Luzhniki and Spartak (central cluster); St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad (Northern cluster); Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Saransk and Volgograd (Volga cluster); Rostov-on-Don and Sochi (Southern cluster) as well as Yekaterinburg.
Officials also revealed that the budget for the 2018 World Cup was nearly twice the figure proposed to FIFA in Russia’s bid book. The cost of building and renovating stadia as well as upgrading transport and hotel infrastructure is now estimated at 600 billion rubles ($19 billion).
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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