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As Sochi security tightens, bloody conflict continues in nearby Dagestan

January 27, 2014 at 6:36 PM EST
As security in Sochi tightens around the Winter Olympics, John Ray of Independent Television News reports from Dagestan, just a half day's drive from the games and the volatile center of the insurgency against Russia's anti-terror operations.
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TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: We turn now to Russia, where the Olympic Games are just weeks away. We begin with a look at the country’s aggressive efforts to secure the Games.

John Ray of Independent Television News reports.

JOHN RAY: The Russians are taking no chances with the torch, tight security, a trouble-free parade today, but these Olympics are already steeped in blood.

Here, just half-a-day’s drive from Sochi, they are waging war. Special forces have cornered suspected militants, a husband and his young wife, at home where they are making a last stand.

Beyond the cordon, a friend pleads with the mother to surrender.

“I don’t want to come out,” she replies. “I want to die.”

But she does hand over her son. His name is Ravaha. He’s 2 years old and terrified. And, soon, he will be an orphan.

On the desolate hillside, a world removed from the slopes of Sochi, a cemetery reserved for the dead of Russian’s anti-terror operations that have that intensified as the Games have come closer. There is much freshly-turned earth here.

This is a war in which no mercy is shown, even to the dead. Here, they are buried with no ceremony, in graves with no names. In this graveyard and others like it, Svetlana Isaova has searched for her son, missing, presumed dead, and innocent, she insists.

SVETLANA ISAOVA, mother (through translator): This is our system, our bloodthirsty system. When the order comes from the center, people are destroyed.

JOHN RAY: Dagestan is Russia’s wild southwest, breeding ground for Islamist terrorists. Suicide attacks in Volgograd demonstrated their range and deadly intent.

Now police hunt another suspect, a so-called black widow, Ruzana Ibragimov, out to avenge a husband killed in an anti-terror raid. Dagestan’s deputy prime minister must make good on Vladimir Putin’s promise of terror-free Games, whatever it takes.

“It is not true that we set out simply to exterminate terrorists,” he told me. “The single purpose must be to ensure the safety of the Olympics.”