With the Sochi Olympics almost half finished, a cautious optimism is embracing the event.
No terrorist attacks have taken place, and Russian security is just as tight as at the opening ceremonies. The chief organiser of the Sochi Olympics has recently bragged that the city is currently the “most secure venue on the planet.” Kremlin officials have insisted that the games will be protected by a “ring of steel.”
Yet if security at Sochi looks right out of a war zone, it’s only natural considering how close Sochi lies to North Caucasian region where Russia has fought rebellion and terrorism for decades — indeed, an Islamist militant group from the area promised an attack at the Games.
Security for Sochi begins outside the city. Here, security forces in a camouflage tent keep watch over railway lines leading into the city.
A battalion of Spetsnaz, the Russian equivalent of Special Operations, has been deployed in the mountains outside of Sochi. Their directive is to stop possible militants from crossing into Sochi from the Caucasus.
Russia is taking to the skies to spy on the Olympic attendees. A massive drone fleet is currently being deployed above the region.
In terms of CCTV coverage, Sochi is going for the gold. The intense CCTV blanket makes it one of the most watched cities in the world.
CCTV coverage goes beyond the confines of the city. Cameras also set up throughout all Olympic venues and trails outside Sochi.
Free wi-fi is being provided throughout the city, with the inclusion of Deep Packet Inspection technology. This allows security personnel to filter key words out of communications and see who is speaking to whom and about what.
'Everyone should expect that all their communications, all the technical devices like smart phones, laptops, will be completely transparent,' Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist and security services expert, told CBC news.
All attendees hoping to enter into the Olympic areas in Sochi must go through thorough physical screenings. Sochi also marks the first Olympics in which all attendees will have to go through background checks before attendance.
Upwards of 50,000 police and soldiers have been deployed to patrol the city and man the numerous checkpoints around the Olympic buildings.
The police being deployed within Sochi are set to high-alert and are heavily armed for any potential conflict.
Mounted patrols have also taken to the streets of Sochi, adding another visible element of security.
Russian police and soldiers are constantly searching the sewer systems around the Olympic Park for any hidden explosives.
Putin isn't taking any chances with possible airline hijackings either. Anti-ballistic missile batteries have been set up at key points throughout the city, providing an intimidating change in scenery.
These missile batteries also function as military outposts and further surveillance centres. Here, soldiers watch the surroundings of the cross-country skiing venue.
As Sochi is a coastal city on the Black Sea, Russia has placed its navy in a defensive perimeter around the city. Sonar is also being used to detect the possibility of any hostile submarines.
Smaller boats are being used to perform constant sweeps along the coastline for any suspicious activity.
Emergency patrol vehicles are also instructed to perform constant sweeps around the Olympic districts in Sochi.
Russian police will be aided by the patrols of 410 paramilitary Cossacks. The Cossacks will be unarmed and will function as a sort of community watch.
Cossacks have also been stepping up patrols throughout the Caucasus in response to the deteriorating security situation. Here, two Cossacks check a woman's purse before allowing her to enter a cathedral.
Despite all the assurances of safety, attendance at the Olympics remains low, with many events failing to fill to capacity.
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