Russian agents have foiled terror attack plans on the Black Sea resort of Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and seized weapons and ammunition.
The FSB secret service agency discovered 10 caches of arms and ammunition last weekend in Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia. The arms seized included portable surface-to-air missiles, grenade launchers, flame throwers, grenades, rifles and explosives.
The FSB claimed it suspected the attacks targeting Sochi were being masterminded by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, whom it alleges has close ties to Georgia’s secret service.
The secret service said Umarov co-ordinated the delivery of the weapons and ammunition to Abkhazia and arranged caches for them. Umarov has previously claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing in a Moscow airport that killed 35 people in 2011.
Authorities said the terrorists were planning to smuggle the explosives and arms to Sochi “in order to use them during the preparations and during the games”.
Sochi is less than dozen miles away from Russia’s border with Abkhazia, a tiny region on the Black Sea that declared independence from Georgia in 2008. Georgia and Russia, both former Soviet republics, had a brief war in 2008 and relations remain tense.
Shota Khizanishvili, chief of staff at Georgia’s Interior Ministry, denied any links between Georgia and Umarov. Sochi’s selection as the host of the 2014 Winter Games had sparked fears of possible terrorist activity.
The city is in the same area as Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, which is plagued with violence linked to an Islamist insurgency.