SOCHI, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin pointed Wednesday to the Boston Marathon bombings as a big reason for the intense security around the Winter Olympics that Russia is kicking off this week.
The Chechen brothers accused of the 2013 Boston attacks hailed from just a few hundred miles (kilometers) away from the Olympic sites at Sochi. This Black Sea town and neighboring Caucasus Mountains are readying to host world leaders, thousands of athletes and many more spectators at the Feb. 7-23 games.
Twin bombings in another southern Russian city in December have heightened terrorism fears around the Sochi events.
Intelligence agencies from multiple countries will be working together around the clock at a special headquarters in Sochi, Putin said while visiting Olympic sites Wednesday.
"In the U.S., people died at a marathon, during the G-8 there were terrorist acts in the London subway," he said, according to Russian news agencies.
Putin rose to power and popularity 15 years ago on law-and-order, hard-on-terrorism policies that critics say go too far and suppress human rights. He had long warned the West about the dangers posed by Chechen rebels, and urged closer security cooperation with Washington after the Boston Marathon attacks.
Putin has made security central to the Olympic project, in which he has taken an unusual personal interest.
Despite hang-ups and criticism and higher costs than any Olympics in history, Putin told athletes and staff Wednesday that "Russia is ready to host the games."