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Russian Deputy PM says can guarantee Games safety

Russian Cossacks enter a security checkpoint as preparations continue for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor

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Russian Cossacks enter a security checkpoint as preparations continue for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics …

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Thursday that visitors to Russia's Winter Olympics in Sochi would be safe, and that the threat of a militant attack was no greater than in many other cities around the world.

Russian security forces are on high alert after Islamist militants in southern Russia, not far from where the Games are being held, threatened to try to disrupt the event, which officially opens on Friday.

"Our security services are working with colleagues from Europe and North America," Kozak told reporters in Sochi.

"There is no reason to believe that the level of danger in Sochi is greater than at any other point on the planet, be it Boston, London, New York or Washington.

"We can guarantee the safety of people as well as any other government hosting any mass event," he added, speaking through a translator.

President Vladimir Putin has staked his reputation on the Games, and has sought to reassure visitors by saying that a "ring of steel" around the venues would make them safe.

But security forces were last month hunting a woman suspected of planning a suicide bombing and who may already be in Sochi, and twin suicide bombings killed at least 34 people in December in the southern city of Volgograd.

To counter the threat, Russia has put about 37,000 personnel on combat alert in Sochi and drones and warships are being deployed.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White and Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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