Italy has spared no effort to provide security for the upcoming Turin Olympics, the premier said Tuesday. "We have worked thoroughly for security and I think that no government has ever done what we have," Silvio Berlusconi said on state-run radio just days before the Winter Games kick off on Friday.
The security plan includes increased intelligence and coordination between various law enforcement agencies, he said. "For certain events ... we are on high alert," Berlusconi said, referring to the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April and Pope Benedict XVI's installation Mass.
"Certainly, we have acknowledged that there is an extra danger, and so we are now being ... even more attentive," said Berlusconi. Italy is mounting a massive security operation in Turin, with some 10,000 police reinforced by soldiers to protect Olympic venues. NATO is providing two AWACS surveillance planes to patrol over northern Italy during the games, which run through Feb. 26.
Security officials also said Monday that they were stepping up their efforts in response to worldwide protests among Muslims over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Also Tuesday, Italy's president called on everybody in the country to work for the success of the Games.
"I am confident that all, citizens and institutions, will work in harmony for the success of these Olympics," Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said in a message for the opening of the games released by his office. Politicians seized on his comments to decry recent protests near Turin that over the weekend forced a detour in the Olympic torch route. Residents, unions and environmentalists in the northern Susa Valley were protesting plans for a high-speed train linking Turin to Lyon, France.
Pier Ferdinando Casini, speaker of the lower house of parliament, called the protests "irresponsible" and demanded that the center-left step in to prevent further ones. On Tuesday, a few dozen union workers from a Fiat plant near the Olympic village in Turin slightly disrupted traffic during a three-hour strike, police said, reports the AP.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his speech dedicated to the Day of the Russian Navy, recalled the threats that Russia is currently facing from a number of countries.