Russia has claimed that it foiled terrorist plans to use drones in an attack on football supporters during last summer’s World Cup.
According to Alexander Bortnikov, director of the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB), seven different groups planned attacks against visiting fans during the tournament, as well as during the preparation and organisation of other “mass political and sporting events”.
Bortnikov made the claim at an open meeting of the heads of Russia’s special services and law enforcement agencies on Wednesday, with National Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev adding that the attacks were unsuccessful because of cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies.
“A striking example of successful international cooperation in this area [security] is the holding of the World Cup in Russia this year, during which joint efforts have been able to avoid terrorist attacks,” Patrushev said, according to RIA News.
No details of the plots were disclosed, but Bortnikov claimed that drones were a key element of the threat and called for tighter government controls over use of the devices.
“In our opinion, to prevent and promptly neutralize this threat, it is necessary to immediately start jointly developing the basics of the regulatory framework for the use of drones,” Bortnikov said.
Russia claim that drones are regularly used by terrorists in attempts to attack their military installations in Syria, and in 2018 a group of militants were found guilty of planning to deploy a drone to help blow up the FSB’s territorial headquarters in the Sunzhensky district.
Back in June 2016 the Russian government passed new regulations stipulating that all drones weighing more than 0.25 kilograms must be officially registered.
Despite fears heading into the tournament, last summer’s World Cup was staged without any significant security incidents and was hailed as a triumph by president Vladimir Putin.
“People have seen that Russia is a hospitable country, a friendly one for those who come here,” he said.
“I’m sure that an overwhelming majority of people who came will leave with the best feelings and memories of our country and will come again many times.”