By Nick Butler

Russia has today began implementing its Sochi 2014 security plans ©AFP/Getty ImagesJanuary 7 - Russia has today begun one of the biggest security operations in Olympic history to coincide with the one month to go mark until the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. 

More than 30,000 police and Interior Ministry troops have been deployed, while measures to restrict vehicle access, the sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition, and protests, which are not connected with the Games, have also come into operation, it has been confirmed.

"Starting January 7, all divisions responsible for ensuring the guests' security at the Games are being put on combat alert," said Russia's Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov.

"Every facility will be put under protection and a space-based monitoring system will be launched," he added, before confirming that all vehicles will be banned from the area from today except for those registered in Sochi or with special Olympics passes.

This comes after a period in which security concerns have been particularly high following the two suicide bombings last month in the nearby city of Volgograd and due to the fear of greater attacks in the Sochi area over the coming weeks.

Two suicide bomb attacks occurred in Volgograd late last month ©AFP/Getty ImagesTwo suicide bomb attacks occurred in Volgograd late last month ©AFP/Getty Images

The two attacks on consecutive days in Volgograd killed 34 people and wounded many others, and this followed another attack in the city which killed five in October. 

Separatists in Chechnya have fought two wars with Russian forces over the last two decades and in recent years the violence has spread across the Northern Caucasus region, including into mainly Muslim regions such as Ingushetia and Dagestan.

It is presumed that this violence is connected with this instability and, with Sochi lying closer to Chechnya than Volgograd, that the Olympics have provided an opportunity, not to mention the international spotlight, to justify further attacks. 

The leader of the Islamist insurgency Doku Umarov last summer indeed called for attacks aimed at undermining what he calls the "Satanic Games" in Sochi.

As a consequence of this threat the measures which have come into operation today are the culmination of many other schemes aimed at curbing attacks.

Closed circuit television and surveillance drones will also be used to identify possible issues, while Russian President Vladimir Putin last month introduced additional anti-terrorism legislation into the Russian Duma.

This includes the introduction of prison terms of up to 10 years for those who receive training "aimed at carrying out terrorist activity".

Putin has also carried out a personal visit to Sochi this week where he inspected a number of Games sites and provided reassurance over security concerns. 

Vladimir Putin paid a personal visit to Sochi this week after the latest concerns ©AFP/Getty ImagesVladimir Putin paid a personal visit to Sochi this week after the latest concerns
©AFP/Getty Images

Concerns have also been highlighted by international Governments, with a Canadian intelligence report last month raising raises concerns that "any Westerners could be targeted". 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is among the organisations who have condemned the attacks and insisted Russia will be up to the task of maintaining security.

"Unfortunately, terrorism is a global phenomenon and no region is exempt, which is why security at the Games is a top priority for the IOC," a spokesman told insidethegames in a statement last year.

"At the Olympics, security is the responsibility of the local authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russian authorities will be up to the task.

"The Games are a celebration of peace and we look forward to that spirit being respected in 2014."

The IOC's influence can also be felt in the introduction of protest zones for sporting matters, which were confirmed by Putin last week after being first announced during last month's IOC Executive Board Meeting in Lausanne.

This represents a deviation from the original plan of a blanket ban on all forms of protest during Sochi 2014, and has also come into operation today.

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