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Russia tightens security at world championships

By Gennady Fyodorov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities have promised tougher security measures at August's world athletics championships after explosions near the finish line of the Boston marathon killed three people and wounded more than 100.

"The security arrangements will certainly be reviewed after what happened in Boston," Russia's athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichyov told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Security has always been of the highest standard at all our sporting events but, no doubt, we will take into account the latest events and how it was done."

The Boston blasts on Monday appeared to go off near where spectators were standing behind roadside barriers.

Balakhnichyov said Moscow would have a "triple level of protection" for the August 10-18 championships.

"The first level would be the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the police, then we have the city's own security personnel, and, finally, the security in and around the stadium," he said.

"Obviously, the marathon, which is run through city streets, requires extra protection and more security personnel."

The Russian authorities have also waived visa fees for all athletes and officials taking part in the championships.

"All the participants and guests will get their visas for free. Such a decree was signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev," the Russian athletics federation said on its website (www.rusathletics.com) on Tuesday.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko also said the security arrangements would be tightened up considerably.

"In the near future, Russia will stage many major international sporting events so for us this is a serious wake-up call," Mutko was quoted as saying by local outlet R-Sport.

"Of course, we'll tighten up our security measures. Our foreign colleagues have often criticised us for (overzealous security) but, as you can see, these things happen."

Russia will host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next February and the 2018 soccer World Cup.

However, an Interior Ministry official said there was no plan to beef up security at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

"The security system which will be used in Sochi is fully capable of providing the necessary level of security needed for such events," he was quoted as saying by state agency ITAR-TASS.

The Black Sea resort of Sochi is located near a patchwork of Muslim provinces in Russia's North Caucasus, where the Kremlin is battling an Islamist insurgency rooted in two post-Soviet wars in Chechnya.

President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his personal reputation on the success and safety of the Games, has ordered security forces to be extremely alert and prevent any attacks.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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