The Sochi Winter Olympics, which begin next week, will forever be known as Putin's Games. However they eventually pan out, Russia's President has staked a good deal of political capital on their success -- not to mention plenty of actual capital, too -- and his legacy will ultimately be coloured by that of the project he has spearheaded from the get-go. At more than $50 billion, Putin's Games can claim to be the most expensive in history, costing five times more than original estimates, $10 billion more than Beijing, and more than all previous Winter Olympics combined. They have already won gold by a significant margin in terms of alleged corruption as well. Whether or not they become the most violent -- and terrorist attacks in Volgograd in December have raised concerns that they might -- remains an open question.
One person interested in the answer is Dr Mark Galeotti (@MarkGaleotti
), clinical professor of global affairs at New York University and an expert in Russian security affairs and transnational organised crime. Not that he expects to see the sort of attack within Sochi that many have expressed concern about.
"Making predictions is always giving a hostage to fortune," Galeotti told Crikey
, "but I think an actual attack inside the security cordon is unlikely. The massive security operation is frankly as good as the Russians reasonably could mount, considering the limitations on protecting any such public event. It's not quite how Western powers would try to secure an event, to be sure, but that shouldn't blind us to the measures that have been taken.
"I think the real threat will be to other Russian cities," he said. "The insurgents need to launch attacks to keep up their propaganda initiative, but Sochi may be too hard a target. Instead, they're likely to look at other cities in the country's south, close enough to benefit from the international media spotlight, but less well-protected, especially as some of those cities' police have been sent to guard the Games."