World Views
1:36 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Attacks In Russia Could Undermine Safety And Security During Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects ski jumping slides at one of the sites for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Credit Press and Information Office of the President of Russia / kremlin.ru

The Russian city of Volgograd is still reeling from two suicide bombings this week at the main railway station and on a city trolleybus that killed dozens and wounded scores more.

No claim of responsibility has been made for either attack, but they come a few months after the leader of an Islamic insurgency in Russia's south called for attacks in the run-up to February's Winter Olympics in the resort city of Sochi.

“We have to remember last year the bombings in Boston at the marathon, so sporting events are obviously targets,” says Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies. “Even Olympics have been targets – Munich, Atlanta – [but] we don't tend to see these things happen before Olympics, we tend to see them happen during Olympics.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not publicly address Monday’s attacks until Wednesday before a meeting in Volgograd with the heads of the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry.

"Whatever motivated the criminals' actions, there's no justification for committing crimes against civilians, especially against women and children," Putin said.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says Putin’s initial silence makes sense because he knows militant groups in Chechnya and Dagestan suspected of the attack want to undermine him.

“Putin has so identified himself with these Olympics. They are his baby, and they are going to show that Russia is back,” Landis says. “Perhaps by not responding, he was hoping that somehow it would blow away, and it wouldn't turn into this ‘him against the Chechens’."

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