Russia says it foiled terrorist attacks in Sochi
Russian agents have foiled terror attack plans on the Black Sea
resort of Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, authorities said
Thursday, blaming Chechen separatists and neighboring Georgia of
jointly masterminding the plans.
Georgian authorities and security experts, however, called the
accusations ”paranoid” and ”hard to believe.”
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said the FSB, the
successor agency to the KGB, had discovered ten caches of weapons
and ammunition on May 4 and May 5 in Georgia’s breakaway republic
of Abkhazia, which lies just miles from Sochi.
The arms seized included portable surface-to-air missiles,
grenade launchers, flame throwers, grenades, rifles, explosives and
maps, the security service said.
Authorities said the terrorists were planning to smuggle the
explosives and arms into Sochi ”between 2012 and 2014 to use them
during the preparations and during the games.” They did not
elaborate on how they came to this conclusion.
Sochi is less than dozen miles away from Russia’s border with
Abkhazia, a tiny province on the Black Sea that declared
independence from Georgia in 2008. Few countries other than Russia
have supported its independence and it remains roiled by political
The FSB said it suspects the mastermind behind the plans
targeting Sochi is Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, whom it
alleges has close ties to Georgia’s secret service. The secret
service said Umarov had coordinated the delivery of the weapons and
ammunition to Abkhazia and arranged caches for them.
Umarov has previously claimed responsibility for the 2011 deadly
bombing in a Moscow airport that killed 35 people. The ailing
Chechen separatist is widely seen as the nominal leader of
fractured groups of Islamists and separatists in Russia’s volatile
North Caucasus region.
Georgia and Russia had a brief but intense war in 2008 and are
still very distrustful of each other. Georgia has accused Russia of
sending spies and supporting a failed coup to topple pro-Western
President Mikhail Saakashvili and has urged the world to boycott
the Sochi Games.
On Thursday, Shota Khizanishvili, the chief of staff at
Georgia’s Interior Ministry, denied any links between Georgia and
”I can only say that the National Anti-Terrorist Committee is
staffed with people with peculiar fantasies,” Khizanishvili told
The Associated Press. ”They’re always trying to accuse Georgia and
its secret services of everything in any situation and without any
grounds. This is a sign of severe paranoia.”
A regional security expert agreed that the Russian accusations
were ”hard to believe.”
”(Georgian authorities) can hardly side with separatists and
organize diversions,” Akhmet Yarlykapov of the Moscow-based
Ethnology and Anthropology Institute told the AP.
Sochi’s selection as the host of the 2014 Winter Games had
sparked fears of possible terrorist activity, although no attacks
have occurred so far.
The city is located in the same area as Russia’s North Caucasus,
which is plagued with near-daily violence linked to an Islamist
insurgency that spread from the province of Chechnya to neighboring
areas in the late 1990s.
The International Olympic Committee would not comment on the
specific security case at Sochi but said in a statement that
”security is a top priority for the IOC.
”Security at the games is the responsibility of the local
authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russians will be up to
the task,” the statement said.
Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia, and sports
writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed to this report.