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Russia practising tight security ahead of 2018 World Cup

Russia is using Champions League matches involving English clubs to prepare it for hosting next summer’s World Cup. Organisers say the 2018 tournament will be one of the “most protected” ever – as the country faces threats from terror and hooligans. Some 2,000 British fans are in Moscow as Liverpool play Spartak Moscow and Manchester United face CSKA Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

Authorities are using the fixtures as dummy runs for security ahead of the World Cup. Hooliganism in Russian football has been a matter of growing concern over recent years. So-called Russia “ultras” were involved in clashes with England fans during the 2016 Euro Championships in Marseilles.1

Many Russians were believed to have come trained, equipped and determined to cause carnage in the French port.

But Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has introduced a string of tough measures targeting sports hooligans in the past six months. These included tough new sentencing for people who cause trouble – both Russian and foreign. Russia’s role in the conflict in Syria means the threat from terror is continuing to grow.

But organisers predict the 2018 World Cup will be one of the “safest” and “most protected” yet. This will entail levels of security never seen before. Fans travelling to Russia for the tournament can expect to go through several layers of security before even entering a stadium.

Once inside, police will monitor activity inside the grounds from a central control room, using hundreds of individual cameras attached to seats.

Organisers also say that spectators will know exactly where the line is when it comes to behaviour.

References

  1. ^ 2016 Euro Championships in Marseilles. (www.itv.com)

Afghan Officials Tighten Kabul Security After Series Of Attacks

Afghan authorities in Kabul are increasing security in the area of the capital that houses foreign embassies and government offices after a series of attacks killed hundreds of people in the city and across the country. Salem Ehsaas, acting police chief of Kabul, told Reuters on August 6 that our priority is the diplomatic area” in the new security plan for the center of the city.

“The highest threat level is in this area, and so we need to provide a better security here,” he said. United Nations figures show that 209 civilians have been killed and 777 injured in suicide and other attacks, mostly blamed on the Taliban, in the first half of the year in the Afghan capital.

Among the larger attacks, a massive truck bomb blast in Kabul s diplomatic sector on May 31 killed about 150 people and wounded around 400 others, mostly civilians. On July 24, a Taliban suicide car bomb killed at least 26 people and wounded 41 others in the western part of the city. Outside of the capital, up to 50 people, including women and children, were killed after Taliban militants seized control of a village the Sayad district of the northern province of Sari Pu on August 5.

Underscoring concerns in the capital, Afghan intelligence officials said on August 6 they had seized a truck in Kabul carrying more than 16 tons of explosives hidden in boxes marked as poultry feed.

“It was loaded with explosives to make bombs, suicide vests . and conduct terrorist activities in Kabul,” the National Directorate of Security said. Included in the new security will 27 permanent checkpoints along the 42 roads through the diplomatic zone.

They will be supported by mobile explosives scanners, sniffer dogs, and security cameras. Trucks arriving in the city will be checked by scanners at four of the eight main entry points . The other four sites will get scanners at a later date, officials said.

Officials estimated that the measures will be fully in place within six months.

With reporting by Reuters and ToloNews

Venezuelan chief prosecutor’s office blocked by security forces

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan security forces took up positions outside the office of the country’s chief prosecutor on Saturday, a day after the government inaugurated a new legislative body that the prosecutor said was fraudulently elected.

Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega had asked a local court to halt the inauguration of the country’s new 545-member constituent assembly, citing allegations that the government fudged the results of the vote that created it.

The new legislative body has no checks on its powers.

It could re-write the constitution, re-arrange state institutions and allow socialist President Nicolas Maduro to rule by decree . Assembly members had said they would fire Ortega the first chance they got . It took less than 24 hours from the assembly’s inauguration for her offices to be cordoned off.

Ortega, in a tweet, asked the international community to denounce what she called “arbitrary action” of security forces blocking entrance to her offices.

Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States, said he was concerned that evidence against Maduro’s government was at risk of being compromised by the security forces surrounding Ortega’s office.

“Aggression against her is aggression against all of us,” Almagro tweeted, adding that the presence of the security forces “puts evidence of human rights violations and corruption on the part of the (Maduro) regime at risk.”

Venezuelan National Guard members stand guard in front of the Prosecutor’s office in Caracas, Venezuela August 5, 2017.Andres Martinez Casares

Since the opposition started a round of protests in April, Ortega has become the president’s main challenger from within the ruling socialist movement, accusing him of human rights abuses and of running roughshod over democracy.

The opposition, which won control of congress in 2015, boycotted Sunday’s vote, calling it a naked power grab by Maduro .

The boycott meant that all candidates for the new assembly were from Maduro’s coalition, giving him carte blanche to pass laws aimed at locking his policies into place.

The assembly was installed despite opposition street protests . More than 120 people have died in four months of sustained marches against Maduro . Critics say his policies have pushed Venezuela into an economic crisis marked by triple digit inflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.

Maduro says the U.S. “empire” is waging economic war on Venezuela and refuses to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country . He says the new assembly is the only way to unify Venezuela into a peaceful, prosperous socialist state.

Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, a hard-line Maduro loyalist, was named president of the new assembly.

“There is no humanitarian crisis here . What we have is love . What we have is a crisis of the right-wing fascists,” said Rodriguez, in a fiery inaugural address in which she paid homage to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s mentor and predecessor.

The assembly will function in the same downtown Caracas legislative complex as the existing opposition-run congress, which could potentially be dissolved . For now, the two bodies are set to hold sessions in parallel, separated by an ornate cobblestone courtyard.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein, Corina Pons and Girish Gupta; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Steve Orlofsky