Russia has deployed air defence systems and stringent fan background checks in a sweeping security operation to counter the twin threats of terror attacks and hooliganism at the 2018 Soccer World Cup.
The country was already intensely policed when it was controversially awarded the right to host the event in 2010 but the clampdown that followed saw hardened hooligans seek cover and business barons wind down the operations of factories that process hazardous materials for fear they might be attacked.
Fans travelling to Russia are required to register with the police on their arrival in one of the 12 host cities and even riverboat traffic is being curtailed to make it easier for the authorities to keep track of everything that moves.
At least 30 000 security personnel will fan out across Moscow by the time the hosts kick off against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow.
Squadrons of fighter jets will be on standby near the capital and air defences will be on the alert for suspicious aircraft.
“After long years of preparations we have created a clear security plan,” said FSB domestic security service deputy chief Alexei Lavrishchev. “We are ready to avert and overcome any security threat.”
The 64 matches beamed around the globe will give President Vladimir Putin the chance to project Russia as a modern state that has regained the superpower status of its Soviet past. — AFP.