Before Olympics, Russians urged to help prevent attacks
By Gabriela Baczynska
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Less than a month before the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian investigators appealed to civilians on Tuesday to be more vigilant and help avert the threat of "terrorist" attacks.
Insurgents who want to create an Islamist state in the North Caucasus mountains have threatened to attack the Games and suicide bombers killed at least 34 people in the southern city of Volgograd last month.
President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his personal and political prestige on next month's Games, has put troops on combat alert in Sochi and tightened security across the country but fears of an attack on the Olympics remains.
"You can't just count on the special services and heroic commandos," Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's national Investigative Committee, which answers directly to Putin, told Izvestia newspaper in an interview.
"If our citizens are not ready to be vigilant, and to refrain from the shady business and corruption that create an environment for the terrorist underground, the intelligence services and - even more so - the investigators can only ... face the tragic consequences."
Markin did not specifically refer to the Olympics but that is currently the country's main security concern.
Markin said his agency had lost count of how many militants had been killed in Russia, which has fought two separatist wars in Chechnya in the North Caucasus since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.