Moscow, Jan 20 (): An Islamic militant group in Russia’s North Caucasus has claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd last month and posted a video threatening to strike the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The video was posted Sunday on the website of the militant group Vilayat Dagestan.
Islamist insurgents based in North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan who are seeking their own independent state have vowed to disrupt the Sochi Games in order to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin.
December suicide bombings at a railway station and on a trolleybus in the southern Russian city, which investigators have linked to suspects from the mostly Muslim republic of Dagestan, killed 34 and injured dozens.
Tension rose on Sunday in US over the security preparations in Russia ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Several Congressional leaders expressed concern about Russia’s willingness to share information about terrorist threats, while President Vladimir V. Putin stated that he would “do whatever it takes” to protect the thousands of visitors arriving soon for the Games.
U.S. officials say Russia unquestionably has primary responsibility of protecting everyone, including Americans, attending the Sochi Games that starts on Feb. 7.
Putin said in an interview with Russian and foreign media he did not want terrorist acts like the two recent explosions in Volgograd in December 2013 to affect the Olympic Games in Sochi. Putin added that security would be made sure by special services and some 40,000 law enforcement officers.
Putin said a full array of security measures was being brought to bear not just in Sochi, but also elsewhere in Russia. “If necessary, all those tools will be activated.”
There are also international worries about how gays will be treated in Sochi but have been met with assurances from Russian officials and Olympics organizers that there will be no discrimination in Sochi, and Putin restated that stance. Putin declared in the TV interview, “There are no fears for people with this non-traditional orientation who plan to come to Sochi as guests or participants”.