- By Hanna KozlowskaHanna Kozlowska is a fellow at Foreign Policy. She previously worked as a fixer, researcher and freelance contributor for the New York Times in Poland, and as the associate editor for Poland Today, an English-language magazine. Her work has also appeared in the Huffington Post and several Polish publications. She graduated from Swarthmore College where she was coeditor in chief of The Daily Gazette.
With less than a 100 days till the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia is really ramping up its security — in decidedly creepy ways. Russian officials are taking saliva samples from orthodox Muslim women in Dagestan in an effort to gather DNA data in case they decided to blow themselves up during the Games.This comes after a suicide attack on Oct. 21 on a passenger bus in Volgograd in southern Russia carried out by a Dagestani woman, Naida Asiyalova. The bomb she detonated killed six people and wounded 30. Asiyalova was a representative of a new breed of suicide bombers, the so-called Black Widows, who have enacted close to 50 attacks in the region over the past 13 years.
According to Reuters, Russia is stepping up its push to eliminate leaders and operatives of the Islamic insurgency in the Northern Caucasus, which has been ravaging the region since the conclusion of the Second Chechen War in 2009, before the skiers, bobsledders and speedskaters descend on Sochi. The effort focuses on Salafi Muslims who adhere to a strict version of Islam and are often associated with jihadist movements. Salafi men are arrested, jailed, killed and kidnapped. Young madrassa students are photographed and fingerprinted. And the women are asked to spit.
"There are simply no other ways to combat these inhuman monsters," said Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the Russian minister of interior.
Suicide-bombing prevention through collecting saliva and fingerprinting teenagers is part of a broader effort to enhance security before the Games begin. Russian authorities have deployed a special contingent of 300 Cossacks, the age-old tribe of horsemen used by the tzars to suppress all sorts of social upheaval in centuries past to support the police force in the region.
The Cossacks are being incorporated into police efforts all over Russia. The semi-official patrolmen often perform their duties wearing traditional garb.
The Russian authorities are using modern security measures, too. According to Russian investigative journalists (and FP contributors) Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, the secret service is preparing what could be "near-total surveillance" for the time of the Olympics. They’ve found that the Federal Security Bureau — the descendant of the infamous KGB — wants to monitor all internet and phone traffic coming in and out of Sochi. According to The Daily Telegraph, it won’t be just meta-data gathering. "This is about content," Soldatov told the British daily. Soldatov suggests that this surveillance isn’t just a way to prevent terrorist attacks, but a way to monitor information useful to the authorities about the opposition to the Kremlin. And that’s nothing to spit at.