MOSCOW, January 9 (R-Sport) – In a move with echoes of Tsarist Russia, over 400 Cossacks arrived in the Winter Olympic host city of Sochi on Thursday to help policemen during next month's Games.
The Cossacks will accompany police patrols in full traditional uniform, a spokesman for the Kuban Cossack Brigade said. Typical Cossack costume includes elaborate tunics, fur hats, and even swords.
"They've already arrived at the resort [Sochi] and will take part in maintaining security all the way to the end of the Paralympic Games [on March 16]," the spokesman said.
They will provide security for athletes, foreign delegations and tourists, the spokesman added.
Most Cossacks are descendants of medieval Russian settlers in the south of the country and Siberia. The Kuban Cossack Brigade is native to the Krasnodar Territory that contains Sochi and has been given powers to check identification and detain criminals in the region.
Heightened Olympic security measures came into force in Sochi on Tuesday, most significantly a ban on any non-local cars entering the city without a special Olympic pass, as well as “combat readiness” for the emergency services.
Over 30 people died in two bomb attacks in the Russian city of Volgograd last month, but the latest measures were planned before then. Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov has expressly ruled out increasing Sochi security in response to the attacks, saying existing measures remain sufficient.