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U.S. Issues Travel Warning Amid New Sochi Terror Threats

Published: January 13, 2014 (Issue # 1792)



  • A series of unexplained killings in southern Russia involving booby-trapped bombs has further heightened security fears ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi.
    Photo: Viktor Korotayev / AP

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for Americans traveling to Sochi for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics as security threats continue to emerge in southern Russia, which is set to host the Games next month.

Over the weekend, police defused two handmade bombs in the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Interfax reported.

They discovered one in the regional center of Nalchik on Saturday, in a counterterrorism operation where five suspected members of an international terror group were detained, and the other one on Sunday in a car near a town of Tyrniauz, 90 kilometers west of Nalchik.

On Friday, six suspected terrorists were detained in the southern Stavropol region of Pyatigorsk, which allowed security forces to prevent a terrorist attack, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said, without specifying where and when the attack had been planned.

On Wednesday and Thursday, police found six bodies with gunshot wounds and the same number of explosive devices planted in cars throughout the region of Stavropol, in what appeared to be a trap for law enforcement, Kommersant reported.

The discovery was followed by an announcement from FBI Director James Corney on Thursday that the U.S. will send two dozen FBI agents to Moscow, and another dozen to Sochi to help with security during the Olympics. The games run from Feb. 7 through March 15.

Despite the security boost, however, the State Department stressed on its website on Friday that personal security still depends very much on individual "good judgement and discretion."

U.S. citizens should "remain vigilant … when using any form of public transportation" in Sochi, located in the Krasnodar region, which borders the volatile North Caucasus federal district, the State Department said.

U.S. citizens are also highly recommended to subscribe to the government's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program in order to receive updates about security threats in the region through e-mail, or check regularly with the Embassy's or the State Department's website.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.