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BEIRUT, Lebanon – A flood that swept through the western portions of the Krasnodar region where the 2014 winter Olympics are to take place in Sochi near the Black Sea has raised concerns about government preparedness to handle any Islamic militant attack from the neighboring North Caucasus region in southern Russia, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Such a concern could have an impact on international visitors who may travel to Sochi to view the games.
Despite warnings from meteorologists to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry’s regional branch of the impending storm that hit the town of Kyrmsk – killing more than 160 people – residents were given no warning when the flood hit around 2 a.m. on July 6.
There remain concerns that Islamic militants could stage attacks during the Sochi Olympics, coming over into the Krasnodar region which is largely populated by ethnic Russians and nationalists who are concerned about the rising Islamist attacks to the point that many Russians want the region separated from the rest of Russia.
Consequently, the Krasnodar region is regarded as a “Russian frontline” to hold back any spillover effect from the growing population of the North Caucasus republics.
The principal republics where there have been increased Islamist attacks against Russian security service troops include Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachevo-Cherkessia and North Ossetia.
The Islamists who do not represent a majority of the Muslim population in these republics want to create a Caucasus Emirates and bring it under Shariah law.
“The situation in the Krasnodar region has multiple implications for Russian state policies because of its size, geographic proximity to the North Caucasus and hosting of politically important projects, such as the 2014 Winter Olympics,” according to Valery Dzutsev of the Washington think-tank Jamestown Foundation.
Part of the problem is that officials in the region, especially the governor of the Krasnodar region, Aleksandr Tkachyov, are close political friends to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite an investigation, none of those politically aligned with Putin were dismissed for the lack of warning to the residents of Kymsk in the Krasnodor region.
According to the Jamestown Foundation’s Dzutsev, Tkachyov also is a key planner for the Sochi Olympics and has a reputation for being a nationalist holding back the Islamists who also happen to be Russians.
“If Tkachyov were to step down or be dismissed under popular press,” Dzutsev said, “it would represent a serious blow to Putin’s power.”
However, it doesn’t look like Tkachyov will be leaving any time soon, since he was just reappointed to another five-year term last March.
“The Krasnodar government’s unimpressive handling of the floods and the corresponding perceptions of the local population vividly show a close relationship between the government’s performance and its accountability in the eyes of the public,” Dzutsev said. “The question now remains as to how this will affect the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.”
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