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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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