Danger looms at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, but is Russia's security up to snuff?
Threats of terrorism and extensive security measures suggest that Sochi is preparing to host an Olympics like none other
By Grant Hatchimonji, Senior Editor
"[The Safe City Initiative] is not just security," said Besse. "It's transportation, protection of infrastructure like power, energy, and telecom. It's protection of hotels and restaurants. And it's all to comprehensively provide a contemporary city with a safe environment where economic development can take place rather than be repressed by crime and terrorism and fear."
Besse speculated that there would be a high degree of communications between the Russians and different security teams that are visiting Russia, but reiterated that the Russians are taking the reins. "At one time, we had offered security intelligence to the Russians and it was pushed back on. It's a Russian show, and they're well equipped to secure it."
Ultimately, it will be up to Russia as to just how much outside help – and armed forces – it will bring into the country. While Russian armed forces are involved in the security plan, this has usually been the case for many Olympic venues in the past. But aside from military forces and SWAT-like team units for rapid response, the Russians will also deploy sonar systems and anti-missile batteries around Sochi to guard against attacks from both air and sea.
Beyond the visible military presence, there will also be what Besse referred to as "not-so-visible operations," including undercover operations. There will also be equipment being used to constantly monitor the air for hazardous materials, as well as drones over both Sochi and the nearby mountain regions to provide intelligence. Meanwhile, cybersecurity measures are also in place, like the monitoring of digital conversations ("I don't think people can expect much privacy," said Besse); DPI packet inspection technology will allow all conversations that take place via Wi-Fi to be intercepted and monitored by the government.
Besse also pointed out that there are two venues at which Olympic events would be taking place: the mountain venue (for most of the outdoor events like skiing) and the coastal venue (for the ceremonies and indoor events like skating). The two are widely separated and each have their own issues associated with them, but their sizes, the crowds, and the power requirements are common traits across both venues.
Russia, then, has no shortage of concerns to address when trying to map out a comprehensive security plan for the Games in Sochi. One major aspect of the physical security in Sochi would be stringent access control, both to the event venues and to the Olympic village.