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CIAO Focus, February 2014: Security Concerns at the Sochi Olympics

The Sochi Olympics will be Russia's first winter games (after the 1980 summer games in Moscow), although Sochi also bid to host them in 1995. The ongoing war in the Russian republic of Chechnya, a few hundred kilometres away, inevitably cast a shadow over that first bid. The First Chechen War ended with the humiliating withdrawal of Russian troops in 1996 but a surge of Islamist Chechen fighters into the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan in 1999 instigated a Second Chechen War. Under the direction of new Prime Minister, then President, Vladimir Putin, this war ended with a convincing Russian victory – at great cost, but with the installation of a Moscow-friendly strongman to run the republic.

By 2007, when Sochi won its second Olympic bid, Russian troops were slowly disengaging from Chechnya, with security increasingly in the hands of police and internal security services. Today,
Chechnya is merely the most restive of a group of troubled republics in the region. The International Crisis Group reported more than 700 people killed by conflict across the northern Caucasus in 2012, while terrorist attacks across Russia have been traced back to operatives from the region. The military victory in Chechnya, and the years of unrest and terrorism that have followed, set the tone for Putin's dominance to this day: the use of raw force to shape a powerful, authoritarian Russia, but beset by worries of terrorist violence and political uncertainty.

--Gerald Stang, European Union Institute for Security Studies


From the CIAO Database:

The 2014 Sochi Olympics

Terrorism and Sport: Dangers for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi

Politics and Economics in Putin's Russia

Sochi: games with frontiers


Outside Sources: *

The 2014 Sochi Olympics and Russia's Civil Society (George Washington University) Folder/Robert Orttung Sufian Zhemukhov Euxeinos 12_2013.ashx

Russia After Sochi (CFR)

Snowden, Syria, and Sochi: U.S.-Russia Relations on the Eve of the Winter Olympics (CFR Event Video)

The Sochi Effect (The New Yorker)

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