Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Putin On The Fritz

Well, we’re literally days away from the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, and Vladimir Putin is starting to see his chickens come home to roost:

The Olympic teams of Germany, Hungary and Italy said Wednesday that they had received emails threatening attacks at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, adding to mounting security fears two weeks before competition begins.

The International Olympic Committee told NBC News that it did not consider the threats credible and said that they appeared to be “a random message from a member of the public.”

Still, the threats arrived as Russian security forces were hunting for at least five suspected terrorists who may be plotting attacks against the Olympic torch relay or the games themselves, according to noticed posted in Sochi.

There’s a certain irony to Germany and Hungary receiving threats, as they were part of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Whether these particular threats are credible or not, as the snippet here points out, there are definite terror threats in or arriving in Sochi.

Partly, or perhaps even mostly, because of this:

Ukraine’s anti-government protests claimed their first victims as police retook parts of the capital from demonstrators readying another mass rally.

After a third night of street violence, two dead bodies were found at a medical point set up by protesters, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov. Reports that a 22-year-old activist died in a hospital after being beaten and falling are being investigated, he said today. The U.S. said it would annul the visas of officials linked to violence last year.

“I am extremely concerned about the dramatic developments in Ukraine and the reports of several deaths in Kiev,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an e-mailed statement. “It is urgent that all parties engage in a real dialogue, show restraint and avoid any further escalation,”

The Ukraine and other Baltic region sectors of the Russian Federation have long been in conflict with Putin’s regime.

By the way, keep an eye on the Olympic torch relay this week, as it enters Dagestan.

How concerned is Putin about all this? He’s re-opened top-level communications with Barack Obama. His military, the Russian military, has requested American technological (and by extension, military) assistance in protecting the Games.

I suspect he will not be sleeping well until the Games are over.