Putin Goes Skiing in Sochi After Bombings Before Winter Olympics

President Vladimir Putin is visiting Sochi as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics after a pair of suicide bombings killed more than 30 people.

Putin made a few runs on the ski slopes in Sochi, according to a statement published on the Kremlin website today. In the coming days, the president will inspect Olympic event venues and attend rehearsals of the Olympic and Paralympic opening ceremonies, the Kremlin said.

Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi next month, 700 kilometers (435 miles) southwest of Volgograd, the scene of two terrorist attacks on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30. Putin vowed to bolster security across Russia at a Jan. 1 meeting in Volgograd attended by top security officials.

The rail-station and trolleybus blasts in Volgograd killed 34 people and 65 injured in the attacks remain hospitalized.

Authorities have detained more than 700 people as officers investigate the bombings, according to a statement yesterday on the regional police department’s website. More than 2,500 homes have been searched as part of the investigation, it said.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev joined Putin at the Laura ski resort run by OAO Gazprom, state-run news agency RIA Novosti said today. After skiing together, the president and premier chatted over a glass of mulled wine, RIA Novosti said.

Sochi lies to the west of the Caucasus Mountains, which stretch about 1,200 kilometers through one of the most economically distressed regions of the country across Chechnya to Dagestan on the Caspian Sea. Toward the east, Russian forces battle almost daily attacks by Islamist extremists after two separatist wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The government will seal off Sochi, a city of 345,000 people. It had planned to beef up security starting Jan. 7. Russia is spending at least $48 billion to stage the Games, more than any other previous organizer.

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