MOSCOW, October 2 (R-Sport/RIA Novosti) – Russian authorities plan to limit public demonstrations and access to several territories in and around Sochi to secure next year's Winter Olympics, an official with the country's Federal Security Service (FSB) said Wednesday.
The Games will be held in the Black Sea resort area February 7-23, but restrictions on movement and certain activities, including demonstrations, will be imposed over a much longer time, from January 7 through March 21, said Alexei Lavrishchev, an FSB official dealing with Sochi security.
"There will be so-called controlled and forbidden zones in and around Sochi," Lavrishchev said, adding that access to the “controlled” zones would require tickets and ID, while “forbidden” zones would be accessible only to people and vehicles with some work-related connection to the area.
Security at the Games was thrown into the spotlight earlier this year, when Russian officials pledged safety at international sports events to be held in the country after a Chechen militant leader called on Islamist fighters to target the Olympics.
The controlled zones would include Olympic venues and infrastructure, including the coastal Olympic Park and the mountain cluster of skiing facilities, as well as transport hubs, including air, sea and rail, Lavrishchev said.
The forbidden zones, meanwhile, are to include parts of the border area separating Russia from the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia – very near the coastal facilities – as well as parts of Sochi National Park, an environmentally protected area, he said.
Lavrishchev said there would be restrictions on protests and demonstrations during the same period, but insisted it was not a response to some gay rights activists’ calls to stage protests during the Games over Russia’s recently passed legislation banning the promotion among minors of "non-traditional" sexual relations.
He said the restrictions stemmed from the importance of preventing the kind of violence that marred this year's football Confederations Cup in Brazil, where rioting over perceived government misspending led to dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Games are widely regarded as an opportunity for Russia to showcase its economic achievements under President Vladimir Putin.