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Chechen rebel leader calls for militants to disrupt Sochi Olympics

RussiaVladimir PutinGainesville

A Chechen rebel leader has encouraged Islamist militants in Russia's Northern Caucasus to target the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Russians are spending an estimated $51 billion on the Games in Sochi in February, which would be a record budget for sport's grandest event.

"They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea," Doku Umarov said in a video posted by the Kavkaz Center website on Wednesday. "We as mujahideen are required not to allow that, using any methods that Allah allows us."

Umarov urged his fighters to "do their utmost to derail" the Games.

His proclamation signals a change in tactics. Last year, as Russians took to the streets in Moscow to protest against President Vladimir Putin, Umarov spoke of avoiding civilian targets.

But Sochi lies just 300 miles from Dagestan, a center for the insurgency that has spread across the region.

Jean-Claude Killy, head of the IOC coordination commission for Sochi, said he was not surprised by the threat.

"We get threats before every Olympics," he told the Associated Press. "This cannot be taken lightly. I think the Russians are well equipped to face the challenge."

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