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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Beefs Up Security for Forum

Police are beefing up security ahead of a World Economic Forum in Moscow next week, but organizers said Wednesday last month's attacks on U.S. landmarks made violent anti-globalization protests unlikely.

President Vladimir Putin is to address the two-day forum on Russia's investment climate, the first major gathering of international business figures since the Sept. 11 hijacked airliner attacks on the United States.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and a host of other top government officials and business leaders are to attend the forum, which gets under way Monday in the Marriott Grand Hotel.

Organizers say 300 to 400 participants have pledged to attend, despite widespread fear of flying following the attacks.

"We have taken all the security measures, as is our usual practice, to protect all the participants coming to the Moscow meeting," said Claudia Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the forum. "But fortunately we don't expect any kind of [protest] movement, and we think in Russia nothing is likely to happen.

"The anti-globalization movement has suffered the impact of Sept. 11 as well. ... And it is not quite clear whether public opinion now would think it was appropriate to do something in the street that could end up in violence."

Moscow police said security plans were being finalized, and it was not clear how restricted access to the venue would be or how close protesters would be allowed.

Russian media said thousands of anti-globalization protesters were expected to flock to Moscow, enticed by cheap flights offered by airlines hit by post-Sept. 11 low demand.

The Moscow meeting of the Geneva-based group is also one of the first large international gatherings since the death of an anti-globalization protester in July, shot dead by police during demonstrations against a summit of Group of Seven leaders.

The death cast a pall over the meeting in the Italian port of Genoa, which was turned into a fortress by security forces.

Anti-capitalist demonstrations have become increasingly violent in the past two years, leading to pitched battles with police, volleys of teargas, pepper spray, mass arrests and shop window-smashing rampages.

In December 1999, a curfew was imposed and 500 people were arrested after battles between police and protesters at a World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Protests disrupted an IMF-World Bank meeting in Prague the following September.

Violence also marred the European Union summit in the Swedish port of Goteborg in June this year. Protesters stoned police and pulled mounted police off their horses. Police shot and wounded three men.

The Izvestia newspaper quoted law enforcement sources as saying "several thousand anti-globalist protesters" were expected in Moscow.

Izvestia said political radicals and hooligans were organizing themselves via the Internet, and could swell the ranks of protesters to 20,000 to 30,000.

But few in Moscow expected serious disorder given the Russian police force's reputation for a no-nonsense approach to crowd control. Authorities quickly clamped down on attempts to hold anti-China protests during a summer meeting of Olympic officials in Moscow.

"Especially in the Russian reality we feel very confident," Gonzalez said.