January 26th, 2014
12:33 PM ET
9 months ago

Russian ambassador says he’s certain Olympics will be safe

(CNN) – The Russian ambassador to the U.S. said Sunday he’s “absolutely certain” the Olympic Games in Sochi next month will be safe from terrorist attacks. He pushed back against reports of a “black widow” threat.

“There was a report of some notice that (was) circulated as a kind of lookout information. It doesn't necessarily mean that there is an immediate threat,” Sergey Kislyak said in an exclusive interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Police in Sochi handed out fliers at area hotels warning of a woman they believe could be a terrorist and who may currently be in the city.

One flier, obtained by CNN, asks workers to be on the lookout for Ruzanna "Salima" Ibragimova, described as the widow of a member of a militant group from the Caucasus region, in southern Russia, which has seen repeated terrorist attacks in the past month.

The woman, according to the flier, may be involved in organizing "a terrorist act within the 2014 Olympic region.”

FBI conducting interviews in U.S. with people from Caucasus

Pressed on whether there should be concerns about the suspected “black widow,” Kislyak said Sunday he doesn’t have the same information as law enforcement, but he argued security is in place to “ensure that there will be joyful, peaceful, and successful Olympic games.”

“We have good planning. We have excellent specialists who are working on it. We have put up pretty strong team that is working to deny terrorists any chance of success,” he told CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “And I am absolutely sure that we are going to succeed.”

With less than two weeks before the opening ceremony on February 7, the United States has been issuing warnings and creating backup plans.

State Department officials on Friday cautioned American athletes against wearing their Olympic uniforms outside of sporting events in Sochi. The U.S. military says it will have up to two warships and several transport aircraft on standby help evacuate American officials and athletes from the games, if ordered, a U.S. official said last week.

U.S. lawmakers: Winter Olympics aren’t safe

According to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, 50% of Americans say it’s very or somewhat likely that the Winter Olympics in Sochi will see a terrorist attack, while 45% say it’s very or somewhat unlikely.

U.S. officials have said they’ve offered Russia assistance with its security plans, but the country has not fully taken up the offer. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Russia has not asked the United States for "any specific assistance or technology.”

Rep. Peter King, chair of the House counterterrorism and intelligence subcommittee, said Sunday “the Russians have not been cooperating with us or with other countries anywhere near the extent that, for instance, the Greeks or the Chinese or the Brits did.”

“The Russians don't want to share what they have, because they're afraid that that will enable us to learn how they obtain their intelligence and we'll use it against them in the future,” the Republican from New York said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country has stepped up its security efforts, and Kislyak said the U.S.-Russia cooperation is “good enough.”

“We have pretty solid capabilities to deal with it on our own,” he said. “We certainly rely on a lot of cooperation with the others, including the United States, and I'm rather comfortable about the quality of this cooperation.”

Attacks show Sochi Olympics under grave threat

The ambassador argued that a vast majority of spectators at the Olympics will be Russians, indicating that the people who know the area best consider it safe.

“I'm absolutely certain … we are doing everything that is needed in order to make sure it's going to be safe, and it will be as safe as any other Olympics that can be held currently in the world,” he said.

CNNs' Joseph Netto, Barbara Starr, and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Olympics • Peter King • Russia • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Nothing is truly safe, but Russia can't afford to have any major problems, during the Olympics.......it would totally destroy their image of having control over their country.

    January 26, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Reynald

    no one can ever be certain no matter the security put in place.

    January 26, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. HenryMiller

    I didn't know they had Olympic roller-coastering—that's what that big ring thing in the pic looks like.

    January 26, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Jessica McGwin

    I personal can not wait. I love hearing and watching the stories of athletes journey to the top of the world. Not just the competition of nations. I always want team USA to win. However i real enjoy seeing the progress of an athlete. It takes years of dedication, over coming life's challenges and trials. The journey there is nothing short of amazing for every athlete. As a mom no matter win or loose you can not help to be proud of all of them.

    January 26, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. don in albuquerque

    Hope he is right.

    January 26, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Lee

    K this dude is certain he wants people to still come and spend money, and thats about the only thing he's certain of.

    January 26, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Thomas

    With so much fighting and instability in he world , the Olympics in Russia sounds very absurd and out of touch .

    January 26, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. rs

    Putin will arrest everyone in Sochi to ensure the safety of the Olympics- probably why the GOP loves him so.

    January 26, 2014 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  9. Russ

    It looks like he suffers the same affliction as Marx the NYU blogger. Denial,denial,denial. Any attack in South Russia is dangerous.

    January 26, 2014 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |