Crazy Restricted Zone Goes Up Around Sochi Today

Vladimir Putin's measures may be most extreme of any Olympics

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 7, 2014 7:31 AM CST

(Newser) – An ominous new report on Vocativ says the Sochi Olympics may be the most extreme, security-wise, in the history of the Games—the site describes "a gulag-style restricted area" instituted by Vladimir Putin. The Christian Science Monitor calls the restricted zone the "ring of steel," an area 60 miles wide and 25 miles deep that will be patrolled by tens of thousands of security troops and in which everyone "will be subjected to near total surveillance." Air Force fighters, drones, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-saboteur patrol boats will be deployed. Travel in and out of the city will be restricted; public protests and marches will be banned. But the most ominous part: According to the Monitor, some worry that even these measures may not be enough.

The biggest potential threat appears to be the North Caucasus Islamic insurgency and Chechen Islamist warlord Doku Umarov, leader of the Caucasus Emirate terrorist group, who has promised an attack at the Games. But there are others, experts warn, who are similarly interested in terrorizing Sochi. "When we examine these recent Volgograd attacks, it's hard not to notice how well planned and well organized they were. They seem to have enjoyed a lot of logistical help," says one expert. "Terrorism has become a big business, and there are people with a real, material interest in keeping it going." A rebel news outlet has been decrying Putin's security measures, Vocativ reports, noting that the lockdown starts today—a month before the Games start—and lasts until March 21, nearly a month after they end.

In this Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 file photo, the Olympic park in the coastal cluster in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, is seen.   (AP Photo/Lesya Polyakova, File)
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