Monday, March 10, 2014
By Sergei L. Loiko
Los Angeles Times
MOSCOW — Russian police and security agents searched Monday for a suspected terrorist in Sochi, the host city of next month’s Winter Olympics, a local website reported Monday.
Authorities distributed a photograph and personal details about the woman, identified as Ruzana Ibragimova, 22, to police in the area, the report in Blogsochi.ru said.
The alleged would-be bomber reportedly was seen recently on Sovetskaya Street in downtown Sochi, a source close to law enforcement agencies told the website.
The report contained an image of the search document signed by a local police chief that said Ibragimova also had a nickname, Salima.
The report came less than a month after two suicide explosions rocked the industrial center of Volgograd, about 400 miles northeast of Sochi, killing 34 people and injuring dozens.
On Sunday, the radical Islamist website Vilayat Dagestan carried a statement by a rebel group commander taking responsibility for the attacks. It included a 50-minute video in which two young men of Caucasus appearance, identified only as Suleiman and Abdurakhman, are seen allegedly preparing for the suicidal missions at Volgograd’s railway station on Dec. 29 and on a crowded bus in the city the next day.
In a televised interview aired Sunday, President Vladimir Putin insisted that all necessary measures were being taken to provide security at the Sochi Games. About 40,000 police officers and security agents aided by troops are being deployed, he said.
“We do everything . . . with a clear understanding of the operational situation developing around Sochi and in the region as a whole,” Putin said. “We have a perfect understanding of the scope of the threat and how to deal with it and prevent it.”
Putin said the security measures “will be organized in such a way that they don’t catch the eye … and so to say, don’t depress the participants in the Olympic Games.”
However, the measures have already depressed some residents and construction workers in Sochi. Natalia Kalinovskaya, deputy head of the city’s ecology council, was awoken late at night last month by a loud knocking on the door.
“Two police officers told me I was on a list of suspicious persons and that they wanted to take me down to a police station to explain in writing what I was planning to do during the Games,” Kalinovskaya, a resident of the village of Sovkhoz Rossiya in the Imeretian Valley, where the Olympic Village is situated, said in a phone interview. “They said I was blacklisted for organizing mass rallies of local residents in the past.”
Kalinovskaya showed the officers her ID as a federal lawmaker’s aide and they left her in peace – after asking her to show them the way to the apartment of her neighbor, an alleged drug addict.
Less than two weeks ago, police took away more than a dozen workers from the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria who were living in her neighborhood, Kalinovskaya said.
“All these men are Russian citizens and they were working in the Olympic Park planting trees and landscaping the area for ($30) a day,” she said. “They kept them in the station for several hours, interrogating them, taking their photographs and scanning their passports and then kicked them out of the station several miles away in the middle of the night.
“When they came back, they felt humiliated and said they were treated like criminals, so some of them just packed their things and went back to their republic,” she said.
Things may change during the games, but residents and the remaining workforce are being routinely harassed by police, said Kalinovskaya, who plans to leave town during the Olympics.