Russian Ambassador: ‘Sochi Is as Safe as the Rest of Russia’

By Melanie Arter | January 27, 2014 | 2:10 PM EST

Citizens welcome the Olympic torch relay in Rostov-on-Don, a city about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/

( – Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” on Sunday that Sochi, Russia, the city where the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place, “is as safe as the rest of Russia.”

“One, Sochi is as safe as the rest of Russia. Secondly, Sochi is pretty unique a place in terms of its geographics, climate, and very uniqueness in Sochi being kind of resort area on the warm sea and in 2 hours and a half you can also do downhill skiing. So, it's wonderful place for Olympics, first,” Kislyak said.

According to the State Department, “Sochi is located approximately 250 miles from Dagestan. Less than 10 miles to its south, Sochi is bordered by the disputed territory of Abkhazia, which has witnessed its own share of extremist violence.”

“It's not close to war zone. There is no war zone in Russia,” Kislyak said in response to Crowley’s question about whether it was mistake to hold the Olympics “next door to a war zone.”

“Well, it is certainly close where a lot of terrorist activity takes place as recently as last week and the week before. That was my - not an official war zone, you're right,” Crowley said.

“The phenomenon of terrorism is global in nature,” Kislyak said. “So, wherever you are, you might become a target of a terrorist. But, we do not take it lightly so we have good planning. We have excellent specialists who I have working on it.

He said Russia has a “pretty strong team that is working to deny terrorists any chance of success. And I am absolutely sure that we are going to succeed.”

In 2010, the U.S. designated “the Caucasus Emirate (known in Russian as the Imirat Kavkaz or IK) and its head, Doku Umarov, as a terrorist organization,” according to the State Department.

In July 2013, Umarov “released a video message rescinding prior directions not to attack civilians and calling for attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi.” The group has “previously targeted civilians, including attacks on a ski resort, metro system, high-speed rail, airport, and a theater, as indirect supporters of the government.”