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Banned carry-on items get through Russian security

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Despite a temporary Russian ban on liquids in carry-on luggage, some air travelers heading to the Sochi Olympics through Moscow have brought toothpaste and other toiletries past security checkpoints without any problems.

Security concerns ahead of the Sochi Games were renewed after the U.S. Homeland Security Department warned airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives into the country in toothpaste tubes.

Yet six Associated Press employees arriving in Moscow from across the world or beginning their journey there passed through security without having to remove toothpaste, hand lotion or water bottles from their carry-on luggage.

Another AP journalist, arriving in Moscow from Singapore, said a security official checked his deodorant and then returned it, but didn't notice or make mention of a very small tube of toothpaste.

Other air travelers heading to Sochi also said their experience of Russian airport security was surprisingly hassle-free.

"It was pretty chill. I had an empty 1-1/2 liter water bottle because I was hoping to fill it up on the plane but no one checked it," said Matt Segal, an Australian tourist who traveled from Moscow to Sochi on Thursday. "No one has pulled it out and asked about it."

The no-liquids rule applies to anyone departing from a Russian airport, including transit passengers, said Russian Transport Ministry spokeswoman Nataliya Nesterova. She said it was up to airports to make sure it is enforced.

The seemingly sporadic enforcement underscores the difficulty that governments face in ensuring that airport personnel in many places, screening thousands of impatient people in a compressed period of time, maintain consistent practices as they try to prevent attacks that could be both human and public-relations disasters.

And even if practices are consistent inside a single country, the many points of transit that travelers pass through en route to Sochi fall under the jurisdiction of multiple governments.

Moscow airport officials didn't immediately return calls Thursday seeking comment about enforcement of the ban, which runs from January to April, well after the Olympics and Paralympics end. Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak had no comment Thursday on the toothpaste warning from the U.S. Homeland Security Department in the U.S.

"I don't have any reaction at this point. We're checking this information," Kozak told reporters Thursday at a news conference in Olympic Park.

He said Russia can guarantee the safety of people attending the Sochi Games as efficiently as any other government hosting a major event.

"I believe that warnings about Sochi, about Russia were superfluous, and the threat levels in Sochi are just like they are in Boston or London," he said. "I would like to reiterate that security in Sochi will be no worse than in New York, London, Washington or Boston."

Some AP employees traveling directly to Sochi from Frankfurt, Germany, passed through security there carrying travel-sized liquids, including toothpaste.

A photographer who brought a Ziploc bag with a half a dozen liquid items said he was asked to take it out in Boston, where he began his trip, but security officials in Frankfurt left it in the bag, while inspecting his camera equipment.

No-liquid rules appear to be enforced more strictly at train stations in the Sochi area. One AP journalist was stopped Feb. 2 at a security checkpoint in the train station in Krasnaya Polyana, the mountain hub for the games, because his hand luggage contained a tube of leather conditioner. He was asked to open it, stick a finger in it and rub it onto his shoe.

Another AP journalist who carried a water bottle at a train station in Sochi had to hand it over to security officials who examined it with a scanning device to make sure its contents were not flammable.

In late December, bombings of a train station and an electric trolleybus killed 34 people in the southern city of Volgograd, heightening security fears ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

The leader of the Caucasus Emirate, an umbrella group for militants seeking to establish an independent Islamic state in the North Caucasus, has urged his followers to strike the Winter Olympics.

Join the discussion

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idodeco2 February 07 2014 at 4:13 AM

Are all these journalists scared to be over there in Russia or what? Why all the negativity? You'll find what you look for, so why not tell us what's good about it instead. We're heard nothing but negativity about the country since the cold war. Describe the landscapes, the artchitecture, something besides negativity.

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mesadapi February 06 2014 at 2:35 PM

Don't worry Russians, we think our journalists are slime too. They are out to get you due to Vlad's anti gay laws. Has nothing to do with security, hotel bugs or dirty water. You can find the same problems at any airport or hotel in the US. Speaking of Secuirty, does anyone remember the Atlanta Games and its bomber?

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1 reply
Susana and Lucia mesadapi February 06 2014 at 3:11 PM

Yes, he was a right wing nut.

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Steve February 06 2014 at 3:27 PM

I suspect that objectivity by the writers are missing when writing about Russian airports. They are neither better nor worse than many airports in "third-world" and "fourth-world" countries. Keep in mind that Russia and the prior "Soviet Union" were never that "advanced" outside the major cities when compared to other parts of Asia, etc in the first instance.

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markiesplatter86 February 06 2014 at 3:39 PM

Lawrence of Arabia?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
markiesplatter86 February 06 2014 at 3:40 PM

How the nun with Lead poison?

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darbar February 06 2014 at 3:53 PM

They ban yogurt but they can't detect liquid items in luggage? This may be the most inept Olympics since the very first one. I, for one, am concerned about our athletes and their safety. I don't think Russian security could detect a boil on their own behinds.

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maxdurch99 February 06 2014 at 4:01 PM

Back off Media! Just report the facts; of course you do not do in this country very well concerning this administration. Remember, these are Leftist/Marxists and ethics and honestly are not usueal words in their vocabulary. I did like the fact, however, that they showed that as soon as a cellphone or laptop was activated, it was hacked. Probably by their intelligenc and theives. Remember #2, this is exctly where we are headed and the reason accomodations are not so good is because the government sucks up all the money for their purposed, exactly where we are headed with this administration. Have a good look and this will be the US in 15-20 years unless we change to what made us great. The bigger the government, the smaller the economy and the lower the standard of living; 100% of the time.

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mmagdaleno February 06 2014 at 4:07 PM

no two airports on the globe are consistent with what should or shouldn't be passed through security. it's always a surprise on what the 'drill' is at each airport....

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naughty9975 February 06 2014 at 5:59 PM

Ah, more of the negative about Russia. When I traveled from O'Hare to Miami, I didn't realize I was supposed to remove my ziploc of travel size liquids from my carry on. Neither airport's security asked me to remove the bag before my bag was x-rayed. In Miami, I was subject to the wand scan as well as a pat down, but they never asked about my liquids. I want to see some articles about the culture that the Journalists are exposed to. Quit feeding us all the negative and promote the Olympics. Oh, I just figured it out. HuffPost will probably take an entirely derogatory tone on Russia since Putin isn't liberal.

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2 replies
naughty9975 naughty9975 February 06 2014 at 6:02 PM

Correction to my comment, just noticed this is an AOL article. I should have just said the liberal media will take a derogatory tone on Russia. Oops

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rb7583 naughty9975 February 06 2014 at 8:48 PM

Exactly, just finished watching the opening and all I heard was political BS from our US journalist. I don't blame countries from hating us, we force our liberal ways on everyone. It is bad enough that we have to hear all this gay this and gay that stuff here. Gays don't demand we accept them, they demand that we put them on a pedistal and worship their decadent ways. Three cheers for Putin and the Russians for sticking to their beliefs and shut up American Journalist, if you don't like how it is done in Russian, get out.

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JOHNTYKIE February 06 2014 at 5:06 PM

If the media is trying to test the Russian Security, when they get caught, they should be treated just like anybody else. Put them in the Goolog and have them go through the Russian Court system.

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