Sochi Winter Olympics Spread: Sochi’s “Ring of Steel”: Behind Russia’s “airtight” Olympic Security

Questions regarding security at the Sochi Games have also been at the center of Sochi’s controversies.
Due to the geopolitical climate of the region, these concerns are by no means unfounded. Geographically, Sochi, Russia’s largest resort city, lies only 515 miles from Chechnya and 670 miles from Dagestan.
These two regions of the Northern Caucasus have had historically hostile relations with Russia, and are undeniably the most terror-prone regions in the nation. These residents of the Northern Caucasus differ both ethnically and culturally from Russians, most notably in their practice of Islam, which is the predominant religion of the area. Thus, Russians and Northern Caucasians have engaged in frequent conflicts over the centuries, from Sheikh Mansour’s attempt to rally Chechens against Russian encroachment in 1785 to the Russo-Chechen wars of the 1990s.
Ethnic relations were even more strained during the Soviet years when in 1944, “Joseph Stalin accused all Chechens of being Nazi collaborators and exiled almost half a million of them to Siberia and the Kazakh steppe, thousands of miles from their homes,” writes Simon Shuster of Time Magazine. Over 100,000 Chechens died as a result.
And when Chechens declared their independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly formed Russian Federation waged two wars against Chechen rebels, wreaking widespread destruction across the region. However, due to the region’s vital role as an overland oil pipeline route from Azerbaijan, Russians have been unwilling to allow the region to secede.
Since, the region has remained volatile, with Islamic terror brigades operating with relative freedom. Attacks have been carried out by militants and lone wolves, and are generally directed at soft targets like mosques or transport centers. The target of the Volgograd bus station bombings in December of 2013 that killed 34 was one such attack. These attacks are thought to be prompted by calls for action by Doku Umarov, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate militant group. Umarov also released a video in July of 2013 condemning the Sochi Olympics.
“They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea,” Umarov said in the video. “We as Mujahideen are required not to allow that, using any methods that Allah allows us.”
But perhaps an example of Chechen or Dagestani terror that hits closest to home for most Americans was the Boston Marathon bombings. The two perpetrators, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were Chechen and the older of the two, Tamerlan, received training and underwent further radicalization in Dagestan.
Needless to say, this surge in terrorist activity has not gone unnoticed by Russian authorities, as security has become a prominent focus in Sochi. As a result, a staggering amount of security measures have been taken. According to the Associated Press, a force of around 100,000 police and army troops have been deployed in Sochi.
By comparison, Sochi will see around 213,000 spectators enter its venues and around 6,000 at­hletes compete in the Games’ events.
More high-tech measures have also been taken according to ABC News, including the use of drones, reconnaissance robots and a computer system known as “SORM,” that can monitor all communications made by Sochi residents, visitors and competitors. Although concerns have been raised that such measures represent a breach of privacy, the Russian government has nonetheless continued to tap into information in  electronic devices in an effort to prevent any Chechen Islamist militant attacks.