SOCHI, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin vowed Friday that Russia will do everything it can to ensure a safe Winter Olympics without making security measures too intrusive.
Concerns for the Sochi Games, which run Feb. 7-23, have been heightened by back-to-back suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd. Putin tried to assuage fears about safety, while assuring visitors that the atmosphere would remain festive.
"We will try to make sure that the security measures taken aren't too intrusive or visible and that they won't put pressure on the athletes, guests and journalists," Putin said. "At the same time, we will do our best to ensure that these measures are efficient."
No one has claimed responsibility for the late December bombings, which killed 34 people and wounded 100 others in Volgograd, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) from where the Sochi Games will be held. But the bombings followed Chechen warlord Doku Umarov's call to launch attacks on the games.
Putin expressed confidence that terrorists won't succeed.
"If we allow ourselves to show weakness and fear, display our fear, then we will be helping the terrorists to achieve their goals," Putin said, adding that the international community should pool efforts in the fight against terrorism.
An insurgency seeking to create an independent Islamic state in the Caucasus has swept the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya. Chechnya's Moscow-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, claimed Thursday that Umarov was dead, but he offered no proof to the claim he had repeatedly made in the past.
The province of Dagestan, located between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of Sochi, has become the epicenter of the rebellion, with daily shootings and bombings of police and other officials.
A car bomb Friday wounded nine people, including two police officers, in the provincial capital, Makhachkala, regional police spokeswoman Fatima Ubaidatova said.
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