Russia prepares for terror threats to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict has angered several extremists, rendering the country vulnerable to terror attacks. This has prompted Russia to start implementing precautionary measures to avert any terrorist threats while it hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This comes amid ISIS' increased calls for attacks targeting the tournament. Will terrorists target the football world cup? Read on.
Russia as a target of terrorism
Russia was actively targeted by terrorists during the first and second Chechen wars from 1994-1996 and 1999-2009, respectively. However, the threat element has magnified since Russia's military intervention in Syria in 2015. Recently, a bombing in the St.Petersburg Metro in April 2017 claimed 15 lives. Also, an ISIS-inspired knife attack in Siberia in August 2017 left 7 people dead.
Russian experts: Terrorists could target the 2018 football world cup
"There is a real threat of an attack in Russia during the world cup," said Alexander Golts, an independent security expert. The threat seems graver when taking into account the thousands of ISIS-fighters who are returning to Russia after fighting in Syria and Iraq. Additionally, experts believe that terrorists view any high-profile sporting event as an opportunity to "attract attention and make an impact."
Averting terror attacks: What precautions has Kremlin taken?
Russia set up an international working group to oversee the tournament's safety in 2016. According to Deputy PM Vitaly Mutko, the government plans on spending about $512 million on securing the tournament. Moreover, President Vladimir Putin recently signed a decree to strengthen security measures during the world cup and the confederations cup, which includes curbs on protests and cars in 11 host cities.
Will Putin's world cup safety decree violate human rights?
Human Rights Watch has said that it is impossible not to be concerned about Putin's security decree. Speaking to AFP, Russian researcher Yulia Gorbunova raised similar concerns and said that Kremlin had arbitrarily detained at least 33 people during the Confederations Cup.