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Ukraine, NATO working on soccer security
by Staff Writers
Kiev, Ukraine (UPI) Mar 29, 2012

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Ukraine says it's working with NATO on anti-terrorism measures for this summer's Euro 2012 European Football Championships, to be played out across Ukraine and Poland.

Ihor Dolhov, the head of Ukraine's mission to NATO, told the Interfax news agency his country's Security Service and the soccer host committee will have anti-terror exercises with members of the Western alliance next month at the city's Olympic National Sports Complex.

Euro 2012 -- the championship tournament of the Union of European Football Associations -- will be played throughout June at the venue, as well as at other sites in Ukraine and Poland, leading up to the July 1 final at Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

"Football is very popular in Europe and demand to see the matches is huge," Dolhov told Interfax. "We hope that the Ukrainian hosts of the tournament will do everything for the convenience of their guests. Relevant conditions, including in the security sphere, should be created for a successful holiday."

The effort, he said, will seek to ensure the "security of teams, fans and the prevention of possible illegal visitors coming to Ukraine" as the country hosts its highest-profile event since the end of the Soviet era.

Among other things, Ukraine and NATO will work on emergency scenarios that could arise during the soccer matches with the aim of developing tight command-and-control cooperation between various agencies, Interfax reported.

Another element of the training will be educational with Ukrainian experts working with private and public-sector experts about bacteriological, radiological and chemical threats aimed at big international sports competitions.

The newly announced NATO cooperation comes after Ukraine's Security Service carried out 33 training sessions last year covering Euro 2012 infrastructure facilities, including stadiums, international airports, sports and hotel complexes, Security Service chief Igor Kalinin told the news agency.

"We've been preparing for this event seriously and thoroughly," he said. "At present, almost all of the departments and regional agencies of the service are involved in this."

The focus of the security effort is the July 1 championship final. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Gryschenko said tapping NATO's anti-terror expertise will be crucial to ensure its safety and last week credited NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for providing the help.

"We thanked (NATO) for cooperation in ensuring security at Euro 2012. In this regard, I asked him to inspect how this cooperation will produce results at the final stage of the championship," Gryschenko told reporters in Brussels.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, speaking Monday at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, said Ukraine is taking measures to prevent nuclear terrorism at the soccer tournament.

"Our country is building a rational control system on the border and with international support is developing its own scientific and technical opportunities in the sphere of nuclear criminal expertise," he said.

Ukraine is emphasizing the NATO-backed security measures after receiving criticism for being ill-prepared for the Euro 2012 tournament.

Wojciech Folejewski, the head of Poland's host committee, this month blasted stadium and infrastructure construction delays in Ukraine, predicting the country will have trouble accommodating the hundreds of thousands of expected visitors.

UEFA President Michel Platini admitted in January organizational problems are a concern in Ukraine but asserted the needed infrastructure is being built and vowed the tournament will go ahead as planned.

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