It’s the Vladimir Putin we all know and love. Skiing, playing hockey, signing anti-gay legislation. That’s a typical, shirtless day for the Russian president. But as the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia come closer and closer (February 2014), the leader has a lot more to worry about besides his bravado and antics. Let’s start with the two suspected suicide bombings that occurred in Vologograd, Russia. More than 30 people were killed. Then let’s work our way back to the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred in April 2013. This tragedy didn’t happen on Russian soil, but it alerted the world to terrorism at a major sporting event. And let’s not forget, the terrorists responsible for this act had ties to Chechen rebel groups.
Now the Olympics in Sochi. Will terrorists attack the Olympic Village or somewhere else to divert attention? Is Putin prepared to hinder potential terrorist plots from radicals? Is the FSB up for the job? The answer is: we shall see. It’s not a good answer but an honest one.
You have to keep in mind the location of Sochi and its crime background as a city. First, Sochi lies less than 200 miles from the Northern Caucasus region, where tension brews with radical groups. Putin has had major problems with this area in the past, including tensions with Georgia and Chechnya. Then there’s Sochi itself. My Russian studies professor described it as the “Wildwood, NJ” of Russia; he basically said it was cheesy. OK, whatever. But then my classmate in a Russian studies class, whose husband is Russian, said that the husband’s friend visited Sochi several years back. Upon exiting the train, bandits attacked him and took all his possessions, including his clothing. She said Sochi is known for its bandits. That’s when I decided not to visit the city as research for my novel.
So Sochi is rogue, cheesy, and close to a terrorist region. That doesn’t make for a fun, stable environment for the Olympic Village. However, Putin, bless his heart, as he did with the anniversary of St. Petersburg, has basically built a wall encasing the built-up parts of Sochi. Outsiders like us don’t have to see the ugly parts on television.
I have to say, I’m worried about the safety of those who attend the Sochi Olympics. All the moving parts aren’t broadcasting safety, and with the recent bombings in Volgograd, just six weeks prior to the Olympics, it may be a warning sign. Are terrorists planning something horrific? Many people don’t understand the ramifications of a terrorist attack in a global sense. The Sochi Olympics is Putin’s baby. If this baby is scraped or maimed in any way, there will be all-out war. Putin will go after whoever is to blame. That’s a scary consequence too. If anyone disagrees, please reference the Second Chechen War.
All Putin can do is enlist the FSB and security to the max. The rest is out of his hands. The only thing I hope to see this Olympics are the snowboarders and skiiers sailing down the slopes…and nothing more eventful.