Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Window on Eurasia: FSB Will Pass on All who Want to Attend Sochi Games

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 18 – Those who want to attend the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014 will be subjected to a preliminary screening by the Federal Security Service (FSB), and only those who pass and are given a special certificate will be allowed to do so, the Moscow newspaper “Vedomosti” reported yesterday.

            Citing a source in the FSB, the paper said that those who apply and are turned down will have their money refunded. And it insisted that this measure reflects Moscow’s study of “all the advanced  experience of the organization of Olympiads in other countries” and that the Sochi-2014 organizers would issue the documents (www.newsru.com/sport/17dec2012/fsb.hrml).

            Commentators like political scientist Vyacheslav Igrunov suggested that this screening would apply only to citizens of the Russian Federation because Moscow simply does not have enough resources to deal with foreigners, adding that in his view the authorities were completely correct in taking this step.

            But however that may be, this is a clear black eye for Moscow generally and President Vladimir Putin in particular who has made the holding of the Sochi Games a centerpiece of his third term because it highlights not the danger of soccer violence by fans but rather the continuing violence in the region adjoining the games’ venue.

            And this announcement, even if as seems likely it is subsequently disavowed, is certain to provide new fuel to groups in Sochi itself who oppose the heavy-handed way in which Moscow has prepared for the games and to the Circassians who object to holding an athletic competition in the place and on the 150th anniversary of the genocide they suffered at the hands of the Russian authorities.

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