Russia's president Vladimir Putin has used his New Year’s speech to condemn this week's bombings in Volgograd. Russian leaders traditionally give messages as the year begins in each of the country's nine time zones.
In a break from convention, Putin recorded two messages this year. The first, broadcast in the far east of the country, showed Putin at the Kremlin and called on Russians to work together.
In the second, made on Tuesday while he was meeting flood victims in the city of Khabarovsk, he mentioned the Volgograd suicide attacks on a railway station and trolley bus which killed at least 34 people in the space of less than 24 hours on Sunday and Monday.
"We will confidently, fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation," Putin said, vowing to ensure security in the year ahead, which includes Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February and taking over the G8 presidency.
Putin has a history of memorable New Year's Eve speeches, having come to power when Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation on the final day of the year 14 years ago.
The streets of Volgograd were quiet in the final hours of 2013, with large public gatherings cancelled following the bombings.
US offers security help
On Monday, the White House said that it would lend any expertise it could to Russia after the two bomb attacks in Volgograd, a major regional transport hub which lies about 650 kilometers (400 miles) from Sochi. Russia's Foreign Ministry on Monday blamed Islamist "bandits" for the attacks, claiming that the bombers had ties to North Caucasus insurgent leader Doku Umarov.
"The US government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. "We would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators and other participants."
While Russia is primarily responsible for security at the games, the US Olympic Committee works closely with the US State Department on its security arrangements. The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security typically assists host nations at such events, working in tandem with law enforcement and security officials.
Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov said the bombings didn't highlight a need for additional security measures, claiming "everything necessary already has been done."
se/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP)
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