International sporting events always pose a significant security threat, and none more so than this years FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia. With President Putin looking set to be re-elected in March 2018, the tournament could face it’s toughest security challenges yet.
Russia, and the Putin administration in particular have often courted controversy, and this year is no exception. Opposition supporters and civil rights activists are expected to stage protests throughout the year, and may increase their intensity during the World Cup event. The tournament will almost certainly be tightly controlled by police and all unsanctioned protests face the risk of being dispersed by security forces. Rival hooligan groups are another source of disruption and potentially violent clashes. In 2016, clashes between England and Russia supports resulted in severe damage being caused, and arrests were made. Racist and sectarian violence is also a risk, but one that should be well handled by local security forces.
The Islamist Threat
Sunni extremist groups based in the North Caucasus, have been conducting attacks against Russian administrative and security assets throughout the last two decades. With their ties to criminal organisations in the East, and an allegiance with Islamic State, extremists terror attacks are a possibility. With this in mind, Russians security forces have made anti-terrorist operations a priority during the tournament. Preventive security operations will be increased including the detainment of suspects, seizures of weapons and the disruption of known plots.
Following an Islamic State-linked bombing in St Petersburg last April, all Russians cities will be on high alert during the competition. International events are always attractive to insurgents looking to cause disruption or worse and in this instance, it is suspected that militants inspired by the Islamic State propaganda will try to carry out attacks using IEDs, knives, firearms or vehicles. Stadiums themselves are likely to have stringent measures in place, but gathering-places and transit points around venues in Moscow, St Petersburg, Rostov, and Volgograd will be at highest risk.
Professional security companies like Black Mountain Security understand that such major sporting event, increase the risk of attacks throughout the host country. That is why they are on hand to offer first class security for the 2018 World Cup Russia, to any visitors travelling to Russia to watch the football.